Restoran One Plus One
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As a mat salleh from northern climes who’s never acclimated to KL’s soggy heat, I avoid soup noodles like the plague. Nothing quite kills the appetite like spooning up broth only to realize it’s probably the sweat dripping from your own brow that’s responsible for that extra punch of saltiness.
I make an exception, however, for the wine chicken noodles dished up daytime at Jalan Alor’s Restoran One Plus One. Sisters Madam Yong and, um, Madam Yong began selling their strangely comforting alcoholic concoction over forty years ago, and the stall boasts a steady patronage of primarily older Chinese men who prize the dish’s health-giving properties (apparently a sizeable splash of rice wine at 10am is just the thing for whatever ails you). Three years ago the older of the Yong sisters retired and the younger Yong went solo; when the load proved just too heavy for one cook her son Liau Kim Leung came on board. Each soup noodle is cooked individually, so expect to wait. On a recent visit we cooled our heels for a good twenty minutes before our order arrived.
If you don’t specify otherwise your starch will consist of a mix of meehoon and thin egg noodles. Bone-in chicken and parts (liver is standard, ask for gizzards if you’re so inclined), thin shreds of cloud ear mushroom and ginger, and a few stems of choi sum comprise the dish’s other solids; the lot is crowned with a few coriander leaves and a good sprinkle of white pepper. There’s no mistaking the hwa teow chiu (Chinese ‘yellow’ rice wine) in the steam that rises from the broth, though it’s not as forward on the palate as you might expect. The soup’s initial flavour is sweetness, with a fairly quick boozy follow-through that, for lighter drinkers, might go straight to the head. As you swallow you’re left with the homely comfort of that only a rich, homemade chicken broth can give.
This isn’t a dish that will appeal to all palates (and for those to whom it doesn’t appeal, Madam Yong and her son also make a mean curry laksa). And it’s guaranteed to make you sweat. But if the though of a little hooch with your noodles – or, rather, in your noodles – appeals (and you can countenance a stained shirt), make a beeline. As countless elderly Chinese men know, it’s good for you. Robyn Eckhardt