Feb 13, 2011

The search for the perfect bakuteh, part 2 (Makan@Alice's)

makan@Alice's Thornleigh

We used to have bak kut teh every fortnight, just after Sunday morning masses. And having the comforts of home to a Malaysian, invariably means having the food! Number One also said he misses bak kut teh, and this 'over-anxious to remove any relocation stress' mom has made it her mission to find bak kut teh.

So when I met a nice lady at church who is married to a Malaysian, I again asked : "Where do I find bak kut teh?" She said she knows of one Malaysian restaurant nearby that serves it - Makan@Alice, at Thornleighs. (she also adds a disclaimer that since she is not a Malaysian, she doesn't really know what bakuteh should taste like). I googled the site and find it's run by a couple from Klang. Hey, people from Klang should know bak kut teh, right?

I call up to ask if they have it and am greeted by an uncle with a true blue, unadulterated Malaysian accent. (I miss the accent! Once I found a Malaysian on the train by opening my ears) "Yes, we do. How many people?" he asks. Two adults, and two kids, I say. "Oh, small group, then you just come, I thought big group then you can make reservation." Ah, sweet Manglish!

We arrived on Saturday at noon to be greeted by smells of Hokkien mee(it's Har Mee day, but to this Penangite, it will always be Hokkien mee). It drives me a little crazy as it smells soooo good, but I am on a mission, I remind myself.

Yes, they have BKT. No, they don't have yew cha kueh/eu char kuey/yaw zha gwai/you tiao. We announce this to Number One and watch his reaction, as it was absolutely compulsory with his bak kut teh. He didn't need the bak and the kut, all he needed was his yew cha kueh and the teh. But here I see evidence of how life get so much simpler when you are stripped of most things. "Never mind," he says. "I like the soup best, don't I?"

We also ordered chee cheong fun, with yong tau foo. It was yummy, the noodles were soft and the yong taw foo stuffed perfectly, but I'd say the sauce didn't really taste like Malaysian chee cheong fun. Too much Hoi Sin sauce, maybe that's the way people here like it.

The bak kut teh, was however, quite flat(sorry, uncle with the nice accent). The meat was tender and fell off the bone the way it should have, but the soup was thin, and lacked any kick. Maybe MSG is missing? We go at it anyway, (I found a spoon of soya sauce greatly improved it), emptying the bowl of all its contents (no tambah soup, you see, so every drop is precious).

At the end of the meal, Number One says with a glum face : "Mama, it's not nice,"

"It's not?" I say, not surprised.

"It's fantastic!" he exclaims, breaking into a happy grin.

Mission accomplished.

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