When done right, a plate of mamak mee goreng – much like char koay teow (which, to me, is the undisputed king of Malaysian stir-fried noodles) – is a glorious creation. Its complex, multi-layered flavours and textures make it a meal that is deliciously, magically, so much more than merely the sum of its ingredients list.
But, also like char koay teow, not many people are able to do it right. Most of those I’ve had in Klang Valley have been rather poor approximations of what real mamak mee goreng ought to be.
The good ones I know of are all up north. In Penang, Hameed does a pretty good and unique spicy version with sotong; and the stall at Bangkok Lane with its reddish noodles is not bad either. Even further north, in Sungai Petani, I’ve found another two stalls that have been serving up good mamak mee goreng for many years.
Having tried both, I find myself preferring Thajudeen just a sliver more. But they are very close in terms of taste and quality, so here’s a showdown/comparison that will hopefully highlight why each of them deserves their respective groups of loyal fans.
Both have a similar salty-sweet-spicy flavour that is distinctive to mamak mee goreng. I find that Thajudeen has slightly stronger and saltier flavours, hence my preference.
Alaudin cuts its ingredients in bigger chunks – you can clearly see and taste the skin-on potato wedges, fritters and beancurd in it. With Thajudeen, the ingredients are cut significantly smaller so while you still get various distinct textures as you eat, it is more difficult to visually discern the different ingredients in the dish. Advantage to Alaudin on this one.
|Mee Thajudeen is like creamy peanut butter... everything practically pureed together.|
|And Mee Alaudin is more like chunky peanut butter, with distinctive pieces of its various ingredients.|
Both use the yellow noodles that appear to be unique to Sungai Petani. They’re thinner, lighter in colour and have a firmer, chewier texture compared to the yellow noodles found elsewhere. To me, these noodles give Sungai Petani hawkers an overall edge over their counterparts elsewhere in Malaysia, even – though it pains me to admit it – those in Penang.
How to eat
Both noodles tend to be a little moist when it arrives on the table. I would recommend stirring and tossing them around a bit to let the moisture dissipate and allow the noodles to dry out a bit. I find that the flavour is best when the noodles are slightly warm – rather than when they are piping hot.
Thajudeen noodles are RM3.30 a plate while Alaudeen’s is a little below RM3.00.
Like Improved Pickup Radius on Diablo III items or the points on ‘Whose line is it anyway?’ ambience doesn’t really matter but I am including this here because I suspect it may help explain the slight price discrepancy between the two stalls.
Restoran Taulat where Thajudeen is located is off the main road, large and has spotless, gleaming metal tables and chairs. It has a large open-air kitchen with a team of about 3 or 4 cooks.
|This shop looks like it belongs to a max-level artisan on Diablo III.|
In contrast, Alaudin is in a smaller, slightly more run-down location next to a big main road with lots of cars zooming past nearby. Its stall is a single pushcart outside a mamak shop that supplies the plastic tables and chairs and drinks.
|While this stall looks like another destructible object in the game that players couldn't even be bothered to smash.|
You know which one I prefer, but the ultimate decision on which one is better is very much a matter of individual taste. Next time you roll by Sungai Petani, be sure to give both a try and decide for yourself.
Restoran Taulat, No. 214-B, Jalan Hospital, 08000, Sungai Petani, Kedah, Malaysia
Mee Alaudin Stall, Jalan Kampung Baru (Bakar Arang), 08000, Sungai Petani, Kedah, Malaysia