In the sleepy, laid back, little seaside town of Muar (in Johor), there is a household name in traditional fishball mee pok noodles simply called Lau Lee (old Lee) 老李鱼丸, named after the founder.
Today, there are two 老李鱼丸 stalls, both run by second generation owners; the son and daughter of 老李 who are already in their 50s.
One stall is run by Ah Seng 亚成, the founder 老李's son. The second stall is by 老李's daughter (which I will cover in a separate post as the dish served is slightly different).
亚成's push cart stall is at a side lane along Jalan Sayang, just a stone's throw from Muar's famous Glutton Street 贪吃街.
Till today, Ah Seng still makes the noodles from scratch with flour and eggs at home (after closing his stall for the day at 1:00pm). So, customers get freshly made egg noodles everyday with no preservatives.
Ah Seng makes the egg noodles by hand with the aid of a noodle machine that his father bought in Singapore in the 1960s. The old, rattling noodle machine still works today, if a little quirky and cranky. During those days, Ah Seng said, "If we needed any thing of high quality, we go to Singapore". Well, the noodle machine did stood the test of time, feeding 2 to 3 generations of Muarens 麻坡人 (as Muar people call themselves).
My blogger friend Yuki tried her hand as a noodle maker's assistant for a day at Ah Seng's home "factory". It was hard, strenuous work that requires a lot of heavy lifting and attention to details.
The effort is well worth it. Few simple pleasures compare with the smell and taste of freshly made egg noodles.
The fish balls are also made at home by another of the founder 老李's daughters who hand delivers the freshly made fish balls by motorbike to Ah Seng's stall everyday.
I had the privilege to visit Lau Lee Fishball Noodles 老李鱼丸面 in Muar with my blogger friend Tiffany, the founder 老李's granddaughter.
Whenever Tiffany is away from Muar and family, she misses the taste and smell of her hometown fishball noodles.
Let's take a closer look at Lau Lee's famous fishball noodles.
The simple bowl of mee pok noodles topped with fish cake slices, fish balls, char siew slices, crispy lard crackers and a sprinkling of blanched minced pork - everything is home made. A few leaves of fresh lettuce complete the dish.
The tender al dente mee pok 面薄 (flat egg noodles) are tossed in a old style sauce of mainly lard and fish sauce. Customers have the option of adding dark soy sauce or chili sauce.
The handmade fish balls are thumb nail size and come in various shapes but never perfectly round.
Made with 100% fish meat and a pinch of salt, the fish balls are bouncy but never like ping pong balls. The fish flavour is mild and delicate.
Lau Lee's fish balls are made with these fresh sea eels which is pretty unusual as fish balls are commonly made with Ikan Parang, Sweet Potato fish 番薯鱼, Yellowtail fish or Mackerel fish.
The char siew slices look average but they were sliced in small batches to retain their juiciness. The tender char siew, which Ah Seng roasts everyday at home with charcoal, was a tasty blend of savoury and sweet.
I liked the piping hot, tasty clear soup that come with the noodles. The soup is made mainly with anchovies and soy beans with a sprinkle of dried seaweed.
Yuki enjoyed the soup too.
"Huh? You want to eat some more noodles? Sure, sure" uttered Ah Seng's friendly wife in surprise.
Whenever I asked hawkers if they eat their own food, most said that they don't as they ate too much of their own food already.
老李鱼丸面 is the only stall I know so far where the owners, 35 years in the business, still gladly enjoy their own food.
I gladly joined in. My third round in 1 hour. Yes, I am
Lau Lee Fishball Noodles is at the side lane, off Jalan Sayang, just beside Cheong Heng wanton mee shop.
When you are in Muar, make sure you try Lau Lee Fishball Noodles 老李鱼丸面.
Restaurant name: Lau Lee Fishball Noodles 老李鱼丸面
Address: 13, Jalan Sayang, Muar, Johor
Hours: 6:30am to 2:00pm (Closed on Mon & Tues)
Date visited: 23 August 2014
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