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Hennessy lor mee
Photo: Hizwan Hamid

The dish: Hennessy Lor Mee

Let this dish be a testament to the phenomenally smooth taste of the cognac

The upgrade
Here’s what you should know about the drink favoured by Winston Churchill: technically, cognac is a type of brandy. However, what differentiates cognac from brandy is location. Only grapes grown in the Cognac region in the west of France with its unique soil characteristics and microclimate are used to produce the brandy. Grapes are fermented, twice-distilled and aged in oak casks. The result is a beautiful amber-hued cognac, a smooth blend with notes of delicate vanilla and cinnamon. Cognac purists will insist on sipping the cognac neat. Anything else is a travesty. Well, wait till they pay Sek Fook Yuen a visit.

Twenty years ago, dai chow stall Sek Fook Yuen set up shop in the Ayer Panas Hawker Centre (opposite the Ayer Panas Setapak wet market), a dingy little spot that’s much-loved by locals. Owner and chef Phoon Ah Sang had moved to KL from Bentong, a town famous for their smooth and springy noodles. And Lor Mee is the smoothest and springiest (if that’s a word) of them all. This classic Hokkien comfort dish has undergone plenty of variations but the premise remains the same: thick egg noodles braised in deliciously starchy, eggy broth (add-ons like meats differ), and most importantly, topped with a dash of vinegar for a sharp finish. Phoon began experimenting for alternatives to the dish, and the outcome – probably a tragedy to cognac connoisseurs everywhere – is the substitution of vinegar with a Chinese soup-spoonful of Hennessy cognac.

If anything, this dish is a testament to the phenomenally smooth taste of the cognac. The rich Hennessy Lor Mee (with generous portions of tender pork, egg and prawns) is elevated with a hint of sweet cognac in every mouthful. Where vinegar adds a tart tang, the cognac has a mellow brightness to round up the flavours. If you want extra cognac, Phoon says that his regulars usually bring their own. Even so, Sek Fook Yuen manages to use up to almost 20 bottles of Hennessy VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale, meaning these are aged for the minimum of four years) a week. Count us high rollers in.

RM12.50 for regular, RM24 for large.

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