I thoroughly believe that an essential ingredient of good food -- any good food -- is love. Love of eating, love of ingredients, love of the act of cooking itself, the cook's love of the dish he or she is creating, or for whomever he or she is preparing it for ... indifference simply does not translate well in the kitchen.
If my theory holds true, then what we have above is one big pot o' love. It's beef, cooked long and low with a secret mix of seasonings (I suspect star anise is included), and it figures prominently in the simple noodles turned out at a mere sliver of a shop on Jalan Tun Tau Cheng Lock.
Shin Kee claims to be a "Beef Noodles Specialist" (just barely visible on the right side of the sign). To me, when it comes to food, specialization implies not only a limited menu but also a markedly high level of skill developed over time, with practice. After tasting the product I believe this lady has earned the right to claim the "specialist" title.
Shin Kee's menu is short and sweet: fresh beef noodles (xian niurou mian), beef ball noodles (niurou wan mian), and beef mix noodles (niu zarou mian). A small bowl for 4 ringit, a big bowl for 5. We avoided the latter (I hadn't yet had my innard epiphany) and ordered the first, with yellow mee noodles (guaytiaow and mi xin rice noodles are other possibilities).
The prep is simple: noodles are boiled and tipped into bowl,
sliced beef likewise gets a bubbling water bath before being laid atop noodles,
and meat balls are added before the entirety is anointed with broth, a spoonful from that beefy pot o' love, sliced scallion, and a bit of chili sauce.
The broth is dense with miniscule meat shreds and the balls evince a good texture -- bouncy but not so rubbery as to be teeth-repellant. And they really, really taste like beef. The sliced beef, reminiscent of what you might get in a bowl of Vietnamese pho bo tai, is not overcooked, though I think that next time I'd ask for it served a smidge redder. The goo from the pot and the chili paste are what really make this a bowl of rich and spicy, greasy meaty goodness. After sucking up solids and slurping a fair amount of broth we're left with a chocolate-brown liquid at the bottom of the bowl.
While slurping and sucking we noticed that the folks at the neighboring table -- at most of the neighboring tables, in fact -- were taking their noodles dry, with nary a ball nor a slice but plenty of nubbins from the pot o'. This obviously required investigation, so I waddled my way back to the prep station at the front of the shop and asked for -- with sign language -- a bowl of guaytiaow noodles dry, topped with nothing but love from the pot.
It was worth stuffing down lunch number two to discover this mound of of lusciousness that I will return to Shin Kee again -- and again and again -- for. Two fingers of broth at the bottom of the noodle bowl, along with an additional bowl of it on the side, facilitate a thorough mix of ingredients: pot stuff, chili paste, and soft, chewy rice noodles that seem to absorb the very essence of the meat mince. While Shin Kee's beef slices and balls are tasty, the mix in the pot is really the masterpiece in this gallery, so why not put it up front and center?
Shin Kee Beef Noodles Specialist, on Jalan Tun Tau Cheng Lock, about a half block from the entrance to Petaling Street and across from the Rubber Trade Association of Selangor building (look for the red sign). Open 10:30am to 3:30pm.