We live in an era where the machines aid us in everything we do. We have simple machines like a bottle opener all the way to precision robotics that made sophisticated parts where human hands used to be. Now even noodles were made using machines and food loses its ‘human touch’, except for when the chef opens the pack and touch it with his hands before cooking us our favourite noodle dish.
Once upon a time, there were noodle masters who knead the noodle dough themselves before cooking it, this is as fresh as it gets. From China we have ‘la mian’ or hand pulled noodles (which are rather common actually..), there were also the bamboo kneaded noodle dough. Today I’m fortunate enough to taste the latter.
We were visiting our relatives in Perth and my Uncle brought my parents, Claire and myself to a Malaysian Restaurant in Coventry Village at Morley, Perth. The place is like a small neighbourhood mall for a small town in Perth, much like what we have in Singapore. The restaurant offers a large array of Malaysian food we all loved so much. In my opinion, Malaysian food and Singaporean food are like siblings. We have our own differences, but in the end we are born into the same family.
We tried Bak Kut Teh served with rice and youtiao, Hei Mee (Prawn Noodle Soup), Hor Fun, Curry Laksa and a secret dish! Why secret dish? Well because its not on the menu, that’s why.
The bak kut teh tastes nothing like the chain stores sprouting all around Singapore like mushrooms after the rain. Its soup is dark and you see goji berries floating all around with slices of TCM herbs in them. Herbal Pork bone broth that is. I love it, it tasted just like how my mom would cook her bak kut tehs, unlike the white broths that’s getting really common in Singapore.
Next is the Hei Mee, partly because its set in front of me that’s why I keep eating from it. But I the soup tasted of fresh seafood, the prawns used were large and juicy, cooked just right. No fishy aftertaste, I imagined they must’ve dump a really large quantity of prawn heads to make it taste so good. I couldn’t stop eating it, but I of course left some soup for the others and Claire. Claire loves soups.
The hor fun was the only lackluster dish comparing to the rest of the dishes. Its still good, I’ll still give it 3/5, I disliked the gooey gravy but this is just my personal preference. Can’t expect the chef to suit everybody’s taste buds right?
Then the Curry Laksa. Like its name, it tasted more like curry than laksa, so don’t make unreasonable comments like it tasted like curry! I actually liked it too, all things with curry tasted awesome. Its gravy is slightly thicker than a regular laksa you can find in Singapore, and its nothing like the Assam Laksa I love so much from Melaka. There’s also something about noodles that’s cooked al dente that make all the noodle dishes here so good.
The Secret Dish. Is called Rochor Mee. Its basically the fried Hokkien Prawn Mee with more gravy and served with sambal chilli. But doesn’t that sound like Hokkien mee? Yeah it does. A quick search online told me that Hokkien mee as we know it today in Singapore was sort of a combination with Rochor Mee, because we Singaporeans like our sambal chilli. Hokkien Mee in the past was fried till almost dried and served with sliced chilli only. Nevertheless, the rochor mee here was made by order and it takes some time to cook, just like in Singapore you see the hawkers at the hokkien mee stalls usually take about 15mins to fry a batch of noodles before they serve it to you with prawns, sliced pork and fish cakes etc, the Rochor Mee here takes a while to cook too. And like all good things, the noodles were well worth the extra waiting time, they were cooked just right, the consistency of the gravy was excellent, not too watery and not too viscous. The noodles were slightly charred and that’s how a good Hokkien/Rochor Mee should be like! I Loved it!
The chef/owner came out to talk to my uncle and he told us he wanted to try making his own noodles using the bamboo kneading method, just like how he does for years before. I can see that in his physique, he look like he’s into his late 50s but the muscles on his arms are still very well defined like someone who frequents the gym. I have heard of the bamboo method and I’m pretty sure its very physically demanding to be making noodles fresh like that. The owner was operating from another location previously where he made fresh noodles all day for the customers then. He has since moved to this cozy place and was dying to ply his forte again, but due to various reason he was not able to do that full time.
We commented that the food was very good and the chef offered to cook us bamboo kneaded noodles for us tomorrow. Because he also wanna give it a try, making fresh noodles like that at this restaurant. Wow that’s a chance not to be missed right!
And so, the next day we came back again to try his handmade noodle dishes.
He showed us how its like kneading the dough using that thick bamboo. But we came a little late so he already done all the kneading, here’s he just being a good sport and showing us how he does the kneading.
He made Bak Chor Mee and Wanton Soup Mee. We were all eager to try it and we were pleasantly surprised by the springiness of the noodle! Its texture is soft yet never losing the springiness or Q-ness of the noodles. It look a little dull in colour compared to factory made egg noodles because the factory made egg noodles adds colourings to make it look so nice. And unlike the factory made ones, which usually stinks of ammonia if you never rinse them many times before serving, the handmade noodles at D’big Mama tastes like something you can pluck out of a tree, if only noodles grow on trees. It can’t get any fresher than this.
I gobbled all the noodles down greedily once everyone had their fill. I especially love the Bak Chor Mee even though it doesn’t have the many ingredients you can find locally, its just Bak Chor (minced pork), some vege and sauce on the handmade noodles.
If I live in Perth, I’ll definitely visit this joint everyday and try everything on the menu. If I go back to visit my aunt again, I’ll make sure I at least visit once.