It all began with a yellow flyer that landed on my desk a few days ago announcing the arrival of Kungfu Ramen Halal hand-pulled noodle restaurant and a taste of Xinjiang Muslim cuisine opening near my workplace.
“5o% off everything on the menu till the end of the month!” read the flyer. What a good deal! A bowl of their speciality hand-pulled noodles cooked in a variety of ways for RM8.00 would only cost a mere RM4.00, and it was the 26th of the month already. Only a few more days to try out Kungfu Ramen at half price.
“Then it’s time for some Mee Tarik Kungfu Ramen,” I exclaimed to my colleague, noting there wasn’t a moment more to waste.
And as luck would have it, it happened to be lunchtime. He jumped up equally as fast from his desk and said, “let’s go!”
Lucky for us, the restaurant was just a stone’s throw from Sunway Mentari’s BRT station, not far from where we were. It didn’t take us long to reach our destination.
“This was once a car accessory shop,” pointed out my colleague as we arrived at the refurbished shoplot now taken over by the new Kungfu Ramen outlet. My colleague knows Bandar Sunway quite a bit.
Apparently, I was to find out later, Kungfu Ramen is not new in Malaysia, the franchise has five other outlets already in full swing operation for sometime now. There is one in SS13 in Subang Jaya, one in Taman Melawati, Ulu Klang, one in Jalan Laiman Diki, Kota Kinabalu, one in The Summit, USJ Subang Jaya, one in Giant, Kelana Jaya and of course, this latest one in Bandar Sunway.
Kungfu Display at the Entrance
We opened the glass door and there, just by the entrance was the mee-pulling Chinese Sifu, complete in Haji cap and apron, rolling, twirling, curling and stretching out lumps of dough which he would then miraculously part into well-defined strands in mid-air before popping them into a boiling cauldron. A few moments later, and voila ─ that would be your bowl of mee. He handmakes your noodles there and then ─ nothing is premade ─ every bowl is made-to-order, which explains why you may have to wait a bit before your lunch can be served.
Décor-wise, Kungfu Ramen is pretty nondescript, there is nothing flashy at all although it is comfortably air-conditioned. Space-wise, the restaurant has room to manoeuvre. We presume the furniture was acquired second-hand because of the telltale hotpot glass burners set into the middle of the tables for shabu-shabu. The Korean hotpot meal is not the speciality offering of Kungfu Ramen definitely.
The walls, while not bare, display simple posters of Islam, the Chinese countryside as well as pulled mee – a traditional staple of Xinjiang Uyghur Muslim Northwestern China.
But my colleague and I were not so much into drinking in the ambience as nosediving into the food. He went straight for the No:#1house special – the Spicy Braised Beef Noodle.
We motioned the waiter. He looked like a China national with very fair complexion and rosy cheeks. And just as we guessed by the nonplussed look he wore when we asked him questions ─ he no speaking English.
The problem was ─ I no speaking Mandarin. We were to find out later that most of the personnel in Kungfu Ramen were direct from China, specifically Lanzhou, and that the restaurant was only five days old.
My colleague and I looked at each other. Nevermind, we decided, we just jab at the menu with our grubby fingers and hope that nothing gets lost in translation. I pointed at the Lamb Noodle Soup in the menu. I love lamb and mutton and having lamb noodles was something different.
Under the SoupNothing got lost in translation, thankfully, the correct orders arrived and we were pleasantly surprised by what arrived. For one, our noodles were in massive bowls, and for two, everything ─ mee, meat and all, were presented well submerged under the soup.
“Probably immersing is the true style of China,” I commented, looking at my bowl and noticing the similarity of style in my colleague’s bowl. His mee was under red chilli soup (he asked for spicy) while mine was under clear consommé. But both styles looked and smelled great. And tasted even better.
My noodle soup had not a speck of oil in it, yet was full bodied and could have been enjoyed on its own. The meat, thinly-sliced as if for shabu-shabu, was tender with hardly any fat at all. And the mee ─ silken smooth and thoroughly pulled ─ was superb.
I laced my mee with the dangerous-looking condiments provided on the table: ground dried chilli flakes in oil. Ooooh. Unlike the surficial fire of fresh chillies, this burn was deep and deliciously intense, spiking my every mouthful with an internal inferno. I piled on the chilli, and so did my colleague.
By the time we reached the bottom of our individual bowls, we looked at each other and agreed: “Woh, that was good!”
A Bit About North-Western China and its Cuisine
Xinjiang, officially known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, is in the northwest of China, bordering Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The rugged Karakoram, Kunlun, and Tian Shan mountain ranges occupy much of Xinjiang’s borders, as well as its western and southern regions. Xinjiang also borders the Tibet Autonomous Region and the provinces of Gansu and Qinghai. The most well-known route of the historical Silk Road ran through the territory from the east to its northwestern border.
Xinjiang is home to a number of ethnic groups, including the Han, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Hui, Uyghur, Kyrgyz, Mongols, and Russians.Older English-language reference works often refer to the area as “Chinese Turkestan”.
Xinjiang cuisine reflects the cooking styles of the many ethnic groups of the Xinjiang region, and refers particularly to Uyghur cuisine. Signature ingredients include roasted mutton, kebabs, roasted fish, and rice. Because of the Muslim population, the food is predominantly halal.
Uyghur food is characterized by mutton, beef, camel (solely Bactrian), chicken, goose, carrots, tomatoes, onions, peppers, eggplant, celery, various dairy foods, and fruits. An Uyghur-style breakfast is tea with home-baked bread.
Lanzhou is the capital and largest city of Gansu Province in Northwest China. The cuisine is Lanzhou beef lamian noodles, the root of the lily, and many different kinds of mutton. Lanzhou Beef noodles are well known throughout China. The city of Lanzhou is home to over 1,000 beef noodle restaurants.
Certainly we were coming back for more. And we did. The next few days, we roped in our other colleague and together we tried their Fried Hand-Pulled Noodle (also called Ding Ding stirfried noodles for some reason), their Chicken Noodle Soup, their Dumpling Noodle Soup and their Tomato-based Beef Noodle Soup.
One thing in keeping with the cooking style of Xinjiang is that everything comes soaked up in gravy, even the stirfried noodles. The stirfried noodles I had was cooked with capsicum, long beans, cabbage, carrots and other ingredients. The base is tomato which provides a distinct flavour.
We also tried their Hawthorn tea (a very nice tasting sweet beverage) and wondered what the fruits inside the jug were all about. We had a look. Certainly, there are hawthorn berries, as well as raisins and peaches boiled together as a refreshing health drink.
Did you know? Hawthorn is a plant. The leaves, berries, and flowers of hawthorn are used to make medicine. Hawthorn is used for diseases of the heart and blood vessels such as congestive heart failure (CHF), chest pain, and irregular heartbeat. It is also used to treat both low blood pressure and high blood pressure, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), and high cholesterol. (info from webmd.com)
Other side dishes the restaurant serves are Tea Eggs (but these are not in the usual flavour of those commonly found in Chinese Medicine Halls) and Dough Cakes ─ essentially “hum cheen peng” presented flatter and with less oil. Only RM2.00 a piece!
Kungfu Ramen is open from 10am till 10pm. The address is: Dataran Mentari, 6, Jalan PJS 8/10, SS 12, 46150 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia. Tel: +60 11-1175 5391.
Oh, and one more thing: In the style of most Muslim restaurants in Malaysia (perhaps it’s a worldwide practice), they tabulate your bill after you have eaten. The cashier at the cash register does not note down what you order, in fact, I dont recall seeing table numbers. You are free to make repeated orders anytime you like, take the dough cakes from off the counter yourself and eat as many as you like and when you settle your bill later, the total amount will be completely reliant on your memory and your honesty. So, when eating here, keep your appetite sharp, your memory sharper and your honesty sharpest. And have yourself a great slice of north-western China at Mee Tarik Kungfu Ramen!