Meng Joo Kee (民裕居) – My Favourite Childhood Breakfast Haunt!
Meng Joo Kee will always have a special place in my heart. Every time I visit Kuching, my father’s hometown, I absolutely have to visit Meng Joo Kee for breakfast. This has been a longstanding tradition for the Wong family. In fact, even my grandparents frequented this quaint coffeeshop when they first moved to Malaysia!
Meet 70-year-old Lee Yong (李 永), the owner of Meng Joo Kee. Even though I don’t live in Kuching, I visit so frequently that he’s practically seen me grow up! When Mr Lee was around 10 years old, his father opened a small coffeeshop called Ming Hong Kee in Jalan Sekama. However, due to a dispute with his business partner, he moved the coffeeshop to its current location in 1971. After his father passed away, Mr Lee took over Meng Joo Koo (December 1986) and the rest is history. Occupying Meng Joo Kee are stalls that sell the very best of what Sarawakian cuisine has to offer, including laksa, kolo mee, kueh chap, mee sua and kaya toast.
Sarawak Laksa (叻沙) has to be one of my favourite dishes of all time. I prefer it over the Singaporean version, which can be a bit too rich and creamy for my taste. That’s why, unlike Katong laksa, Sarawak laksa is often eaten as a breakfast dish! The laksa (RM6) at Meng Joo Kee features rice vermicelli submerged in an aromatic broth which is topped with a generous amount of sliced chicken, omelette strips, prawns and bean sprouts.
For those who have never eaten Sarawak laksa before, the broth’s thinner consistency might make you think that it lacks flavour. This is definitely not the case. The laksa broth, especially the one here at Meng Joo Kee, was fragrant and tasty! It’s enriched with the perfect amount of coconut milk, so as to not overpower the flavours of the chicken and prawn stock. The rice vermicelli is springy, and absorbed the laksa broth brilliantly. The beansprouts added a tantalising crunch, and a hit of freshness to the dish. Don’t forget to add the spicy and sweet sambal on the side, as well as a squeeze of lime!
Sarawak Kolo Mee (干捞面) used to be my late grandfather’s favourite dish. Not only would he order it almost every time we visited Meng Joo Kee, he would often take away dozens of packets for his friends and family. I can’t comment as to whether or not Meng Joo Kee has the best Sarawak kolo mee, but it truly is a comfort food for me.
You won’t be getting a feast by ordering Meng Joo Kee’s Kolo Mee (RM3), but it’s so incredibly affordable. The wavy noodles are topped with slices of char siew, minced pork and spring onions. The noodles are springy and oh-so addictive, and are thoroughly flavoured by the oils from the minced pork. The char siew can be kind of dry and tough, but at just RM3, I’m not complaining! Adding a touch of chopped chillies and vinegar lifted the flavour of the dish.
My grandmother likes a good ol’ bowl of kolo mee, but she also loves the Foochow Mee Sua (福州面线) at Meng Joo Kee. While the soft noodles, chicken, and mushroom were delicious, the star of the dish had to be the clear chicken broth. The broth is simmered over many hours with chicken bones, which gives it its delectable flavour. My family has a tradition of eating this whenever one of our birthdays rolls around! The long strands of noodles symbolise a long life. We also have it alongside some soft boiled eggs that are dyed red.
The kaya toast here is quite special. Instead of having two slices of bread, you’re getting one slice of bread that’s been halved lengthwise. I believe that Meng Joo Kee does this to allow the bread to crisp up more, and also to create a better kaya-to-bread ratio. Or, they could just be skimping on the bread. Regardless, this used to be one of my favourite childhood snacks. I would always have a plate of this on top of my laksa or kolo mee!
Even though I was raised in Singapore, I would say that Sarawak cuisine is what I grew up eating. Like my dad, I hope to bring my future kids to Meng Joo Kee when I start a family one day!
Meng Joo Kee (民裕居)
Address: 1A Ang Cheng Ho Road, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Phone: +60 12-813 2822
Opening Hours: 5am to 2pm daily.
MissTamChiak.com made anonymous visit and paid its own meal at the stall featured here.
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