Jojo Little Kitchen
Time Out says
Jojo Little Kitchen is a jack of the pan mee trade and a master of one with a little shopfront that defies expectations
Malaysians in Melbourne would be familiar with Jojo Little Kitchen, a franchise that originated in Kuala Lumpur and specialises in pan mee – a flat flour noodle dish popularised by the Hakka-speaking Chinese population of Malaysia. The dough for the noodles is hand-kneaded and served either in a soup or dry, and typically with the accompaniments of dried anchovies, minced pork and mushrooms.
Malaysian restaurants that specialise in one particular dish are rare in Melbourne, where you’re more likely to find nasi lemak, char kuay teow and laksa grouped together on one menu. But in Malaysia it's not uncommon for chefs hone their craft, perfect ancestral recipes, and become experts at making one dish – you don’t go to the chicken rice shop for nasi lemak and vice versa. Pan mee specialists Jojo Little Kitchen hails from this Malaysian tradition of specificity.
You can choose between thin, thick, wide and tear noodles, with tear noodles the result of hand-kneaded dough asymmetrically torn into smaller pieces – much like hand-torn strapponi pasta.
In the traditional soupy pan mee, a neat pile of wilted greens, sliced shiitake mushrooms and soy-marinated minced pork sit atop a generous bed of noodles in piping hot soup steeped in the heady aromas of pork bones and anchovies. The springy, slippery, wide noodles are toothsome – although only those with exceptional chopstick skills will be able to skilfully ladle them into their mouths without splashback. Eat this quickly as the handmade noodles swiftly absorb the broth they sit in.
The thick noodles work best in the dry traditional pan mee, but be sure to mix the ingredients together to evenly coat each strand in equal parts pork, mushroom and anchovy. You can be cavalier with the provided sambal – it doesn't reach the dizzying levels of heat in the chilli pan mee.
Hot and spicy is often mentioned in the same breath as vindaloo and tom yum, but Jojo Little Kitchen’s lat jiu pan mee (chilli pan mee) gives these dishes a run for their money. Gradually mix the fried dried chilli on the side of the bowl into your noodles to suit your tolerance for spice whilt the runny poached egg coats the noodles in a creaminess that (somewhat) offsets the heat. Napkins at the ready for streaming eyes and noses.
Tucked unobtrusively below a block of apartments off A’Beckett Street, Jojo Little Kitchen isn’t visible from the street, not that that’s stopped pan mee loyalists seeking it out and crowding into the small confines every lunchtime. With pan mee noodle chain GO Noodle House also setting up shop late last year, pan mee is set to become a mainstay in Melburnians’ dining vocabulary. Jojo Little Kitchen plays no small role in this – it may well be one of the first in a line of many pan mee specialist restaurants, and it has set the bar exceedingly high.