We're in the food court of our new favorite KL wet market and, having just finished coffee and toasted, halved buns sandwiching kaya (coconut 'jam') and grossly thick slabs of butter, are about to give up our seats, when my eye wanders to the other end of the table. Two young women are eagerly tucking into noodles. One of the eaters dives in with her chopsticks, secures a tangle, lifts it high, then brings it back down to the bowl. Over and over again she does this, coating the noodles in thickish dark goo.
We've been in Malaysia for a while now, and when it comes to tempting edibles we're getting pretty jaded. But Oh. My. Got to have one of those.
The old guy behind the cart serves plain old wonton mee and a not-too-uncommon twist on wonton mee, topped with stewed mushrooms and chicken feet instead of pork. Order 'everything, dry, mixed' and you get it all: a nest of both wide and thin egg noodles sauced with dark soy and topped with thickly sliced mushrooms, sticky char siew (barbecued pork), bits of chicken, chicken feet (we opt out on this item), and chopped green onion.
The pork's great and the chicken is fine, but what makes this dish is the overwhelming forest-floor essence of the funghi. The rest of the ingredients are bit, albeit pleasant players in this one-act play of shroominess. We've never eaten anything the likes of this pasta, not even in northern Italy at the height of fresh porcini season.
This guy could teach us a thing or two about coaxing every ounce of flavor from a mushroom. But if he's like most hawkers, he won't. All we can do is return to his stall to supplicate in front of another couple bowls of his magic mushroom mee.
Wonton mee stall, across from coffeeshop sporting yellow 'Hainan Tea' banner, food court of Imbi Market, behind Jalan Imbi, downtown Kuala Lumpur. Mornings. A mere 5 ringgit a bowl for everything but the chicken feet.