We didn't include this photo in our portrait round-up of Penang, but it seems appropriate to begin at the beginning.
Just the thought of Penang makes our stomachs rumble, so even before we boarded our plane in KL Dave and I were weighing first-bite options. By the time our (late) flight arrived we had missed lunch, but we were too early for dinner. A plate of mee goreng split between the two seemed like just the thing to tide us over.
I don't suppose I'm qualified to pronounce Hameed's mee goreng the Best In Penang, but it is pretty darned fabulous, certainly one of the best versions we've ever had in Malaysia.
Hameed is a serious dude - by which I mean he's totally focused on his fry pan. No time for chit-chat or posed photos here. He has to maintain his concentration because the orders come in thick and fast at his stall in Kota Selera, the food court next to Georgetown's Fort Cornwallis. Hameed is in perpetual motion, flying from stove to plating counter and back again a half dozen times a minute.
In addition to mee goreng (your choice of fried beehoon, thick yellow mee, or wide rice koayteow), he also serves mee rebus.
He starts with a perfectly cooked bed of noodles - tomatoey with a not-too-harsh but quite robust creeping chili burn, slight sweetness balanced by a bit of bitter char flavor, well-coated with sauce but not gloppy - and tops them with crispy caramelized shallot and chopped scallion greens.
Then he adds his piece de resistance: a blood red tangle of squid stewed in a thick sauce made from ground dried chilies that he roasts himself. The flavor of the sauced squid echoes that of the noodles but is deeper, richer. The two together are a match made in heaven. Or hell, I suppose, if chili's not your thing (Even if it isn't, don't be deterred - this mee goren'gs slow burn is nothing like the sharp bite of a super-spicy Thai dish).
We must have watched at least twenty-five plates of mee goreng fly by our table before we were served our own, a torture justifed when we finally dug in.
Hameed Mee Sotong, Kota Selera next to Fort Cornwallis, 12-8pm (closed Sunday). Be sure to specify mee sotong (indicate which noodle you'd like) or mee rebus sotong to get your pile of squid.