Do you know this man? If curry mee floats your boat, you darned well should.
You won't often find the word 'best' in our posts. How can we know the 'best' of any food, when we haven't sampled all the versions? 'Best' is even more subjective than 'good'; label something 'the best' of its kind and you're opening yourself up to all manner of catcalls.
But in this case we're going to go out on a limb. We didn't grow up supping on curry mee. We don't even eat it every week. We're miles from having tasted every version of curry mee served in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley. And yet, yet ....
...we simply can't believe that this isn't the best bowl of curry mee to be found in the City and its 'burbs.
The fantastic flavors in this bowlful might lead you to believe that Steven K and his wife have been dishing up curry mee for decades. Not so. It was only seven or eight years ago that Steven, contemplating retirement from his job as world-traveling senior technician for a German printing press company, set about deciphering the curry mee code. After learning technique from a curry mee shop-owning relative in Hong Kong he returned to Malaysia, tinkered with the recipe (Hongkies prefer their mee more sweet and less spicy than Malaysians do, he says), and opened his stall in Petaling Jaya's Section 17.
He hasn't looked back. Business is so good that on weekends he's often sold out and closing up shop by noon. Regulars flock to his stall for the sublime curry that successfully straddles the thin line between lemak (coconut milky rich) and overwhelmingly heavy, that is far from sour but not too sweet, that dances on the tongue but isn't too spicy.
'My curry is easy on the stomach,' says Steven. 'Eat my curry today and you'll wake up tomorrow wanting more.'
He isn't kidding.
Top-notch, fresher-than-fresh ingredients are the other secret to Steven's success. He buys his seafood (blood cockles are at 6 o'clock, second photo) directly from a dealer in coastal Kuala Selangor and is involved in every step of the process that leads to a serving of curry. In addition to noodles and cockles, in a bowl of Steven's curry mee you'll find generous slabs of pork skin (not too common, these days) and fucuk (tofu skin), deep-fried tofu puffs, and - a nice touch - crisp-tender long beans.
And there's more. Prawn wonton with translucent wrappers that maintain their texture even after a swim in Steven's light broth, and a perfectly toothsome filling that tastes so just-from-the-sea fresh it should be jumping.
Meaty pork balls incorporating a nice bit of sotong (squid) evince a good amount of chew but no rubber-ball bounce. Ask Steven to add them to your curry mee, combine them with noodles in broth, or enjoy them on their own.
Steven's love for his job, despite the hours - up at 3 am most mornings to cook curry, stuff dumplings, and mold pork balls - is evident.
'What's to complain about? I enjoy it. Everyday I see my friends, work with the missus, have a good time.' He takes justifiable pride in his product, observing that 'it's hard to find good home-cooked food like this anymore.'
He also holds some pretty strong opinions about the competition: 'Those curry mee at Petaling Street are just no good.'
Curry mee stall, Restoran Hong Seng, right on the square, Section 17, Petaling Jaya. Closed every other Monday. Open early morning till, technically, 2 or 3pm. But best to arrive before 12 to avoid disappointment.