I remember a time from my younger days when hot plates were all the rage (early eighties?), the successor to fondue sets. We even received one as a wedding gift, from my Chinese teacher. Portly, ferocious (behind the lectern) Mr. Wong was a skilled and serious cook who - decades before restaurant-quality kitchen appliances in the home became a foodie fashion accessory - had kitted out a corner of his kitchen with a mammoth recessed, gzillion-BTU wok burner.
"Perfect for black pepper steak," he advised me when I thanked him. I'm ashamed to admit it, but over the years that piece of metal has only rarely seen the light of day.
On the stretch of Jalan Ipoh just before the roundabout that will set you, if you're so inclined, on the road to Kuantan, there's a vendor making much better use of her hot plate(s) than I have of mine. We wandered by her stall mid-afternoon, just as she was setting up for business. Her sign advertising 'chick kut teh' (presumably a fowl variation on bak kut teh) caught our eye, but it was a whiff of the 'hot plate mee' bubbling away on her portable stove that drew us in.
It's a delectable dish whose few simple ingredients (noodles, Chinese dried mushrooms, chicken, and lettuce - egg optional) benefit tremendously from their cooking method. Stock and seasonings (soy, rice wine, and, I'd wager, a hefty dose of mushroom soaking liquid) are brought to the boil in a hot plate. Uncooked noodles (from thick yellow egg noodles, yee meen, loh see fun, and kuey teow we chose the first) are added directly to the liquid, along with mushrooms soft from soaking and a few pieces of (perhaps already cooked) bone-in chicken. As the sauce gurgles away in - and evaporates from - its wide, shallow vessel it becomes more pronounced in flavor. Noodles and chicken absorb the super-concentrated 'shroomy essence as they cook.
The finished product is defined by the earthy savor of dried mushrooms. It permeates the glossy, thickened nectar napping the bottom of the pan, each silky strand of pasta, and every tender morsel of bird. Any funghi fan will be smitten by this noodle on a hot (iron) plate.
By the same token, if mushrooms don't appeal, best steer clear. Opt instead for a bowl of this vendor's exquisite bubur telur. Bellies full of hot plate mee, we still couldn't resist this almost- smooth rice porridge thick with threadlike shreds of chicken breast , tiny clams, and pungent nubs of century egg. The lot is perked up with chopped scallion and a load of sneakingly hot white pepper.
Hot plate mee (and chick kut teh, and claypot loh see fun) at the end stall in the long covered row of vendors just opposite Restoran Ban Lee, Jalan Ipoh (approaching from Taman Million, it's on your left just before the Kuantan roundabout). Mid-afternoon till late.