I'm just not getting enough pure, unadulterated fat in my diet.
That's what I thought to myself, anyway, after an especially good and greasy bowl of noodles at Restoran Mandarin, a newly-opened, nothing-fancy shop on hideously busy Jalan Klang Lama.
The specialty here is Seremban Hakka mee, a dish of yellow noodles with ground pork that hails from the town of Seremban. The wide, almost paper thin noodles are not made in-house, but I can't hold that against the place because they're wonderful.
Supremely eggy, slippery smooth, nearly translucent yet somehow hefty, with a good bit of chew ... these strands are pretty much everything I'm looking for in a yellow pasta product. They're a fitting bed for the simplest combination of toppings: rough-choppped pork, scallion rings, and a generous sprinkle of sneeze-inducing white pepper.
The shop's kitchen master - who, by the way, also hails from Seremban - pays attention to detail. After boiling the noodles he dips them in another pot of warm water to remove their starch, and follows this up with a quick, re-heating dunk in boiling water. He then tosses the by-now al dente noodles with a spoonful of lard. An ingredient near and dear to the hearts of non-Muslim Malaysians, lard also shows up in wonton mee and sometimes (if I'm lucky) serves as frying medium for char kuey teow. But here, in Restoran Mandarin's Hakka mee, instead of mixing with dark soy or serving as base layer for chili paste, soy, and seafood, this enemy of cardiac health is on its own, front and center. Adding savor, salt, and a bit of lubrication, it joins forces with barely-cooked nubs of pork in a starchy celebration of all things porcine.
The other notable - and, admittedly, much more healthy - nibble on offer here is yong tau foo (fresh tofu and vegetables like eggplant, long red chilies, and okra stuffed with fish paste). While vegetables taste fresh and aren't cooked to mush, Restoran Mandarin's fish balls and stuffing are a bit too textureless and rubbery for my taste. They're somewhat redeemed by the sublime stock they float in, made from fish bones boiled in water with (of course) a little lard.
Two months after opening, Restoran Mandarin was doing a decent lunch business. While yong tau foo had many takers during our visit, lardy Hakka mee was clearly carrying the day.
Restoran Mandarin, Jalan Klang Lama, across from the Shell Station and (if you're coming from Mid-Valley) just before the Kolej Intec overpass. If you hit OUG you've gone too far. 830am-10pm. Closed Sundays.