This coffee shop on a particularly desolate and, for some reason, always scorching stretch of Old Klang Road has a couple of things going for it: the pan meen and the char kway teow dished up by its two resident hawkers. Scrape a plastic chair across Theng Wah’s pocked cement floor, rest your elbows on a worn marble-topped table, place your order, and prepare for a long and hot, but ultimately worthwhile, wait. On weekends especially the place can be standing room only.
The pan meen (which literally translates as ‘board noodles’, a reference, perhaps, to their taglietelle-like width), rolled to order through a hand-cranked machine, are as silky and supple as an Italian nonna’s finest homemade pasta. They’re served in soup or ‘dry’, the latter version being the best means by which to appreciate their perfect al dente integrity. ‘Dry’ pan meen arrive as a steaming soy-soaked tangle of toothsome wheat noodles topped with tender minced pork, crunchy deep-fried ikan bilis, and chewy mushrooms (a mix of wood ear and shiitake), meaty broth on the side. The requisite accompaniment, sour and spicy green chili sambal, lends a pleasant charge of heat.
Whether one hundred per cent kway teow (flat rice noodles), all mee (round egg noodles), or a mix of the two, Theng Wah’s fried noodles are a force to be reckoned with. Sporting fluffy bits of scrambled egg, slices of springy fish cake, briny whole cockles, and wilted bean sprouts and choy sum, they’re saturated with the desirable but all-too-often elusive scent and flavour of char. Given the heft of this dish the optional crown of runny-yoked fried egg is entirely unnecessary, but rarely regretted.
Theng Wah’s char kway teow master is a bit of a relic, having inherited the business from his father over thirty-five years ago. He’s been working the wok morning to mid-afternoon seven days a week (with a few extra days off at Chinese New Year) ever since. His fried noodles are proof positive that practice makes perfect. Robyn Eckhardt
|Venue name:||Restoran Theng Wah|
Restoran Theng Wah, Jalan Klang Lama (Old Klang Road), across from Taman Desa