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Char siew @ Lum Choong Kee Bamboo Noodles & Chef Li’s Penang hawker food (laksa, hokkien mee)

The Sunday morning mission for this Penang char-boh (girl) was to savour some hometown delicacies after being repetitively assaulted by the delectable images of assam laksa shared on Facebook.

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I’ve read the raving reviews about Chef Li’s Penang asam laksa and hokkien mee for a while now but his previous location in the godforsaken area of Sg Buloh was a huge deterrent.

Happily enough, Chef Li had shifted to PJ this month, and in the very same coffeeshop, the likewise much raved about Lum Choong Kee wantan mee and charsiew began operations 2 days ago.

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I am not that bothered about noodles, but thick, glistening cuts of char siew home-roasted with care got my attention.

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Since it is a Sunday, I decided that it would be wise to be early to avoid the crowd and also to snare a good seat. ‘Good seat’ here translates to me being able to watch both men at work, and having enough light not to struggle for good photos.

Our efforts paid off.
We were seated at 8.30am and our order came about 15 minutes later.
For Chef Li, it was a one-man show this morning. At about 9.30am or so, I observed that he was getting slightly flustered with the demand and there were a few customers walking up to his stall to remind him about their orders.

BELOW: (M) Hokkien Mee – RM7.00. (B) – RM8.00.

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Fortunately for us, our orders were prompt enough.
Our laksa came first (after about 10 mins from order time) but the hokkien mee took another 20 minutes to arrive.

Thankfully I was distracted by the laksa and wantan mee from Cheesus Zhu’s Lum Choong Kee wantan mee stall so I didn’t mind.
The lapse of time however could mean that you had finished your meal (we nearly did) before your friend’s order arrive.
Since there were only 2 of us today, it wasn’t an issue but could frustrating for bigger groups.

Char siew wan tan mee Lum Choong Kee, Chef Li's Penang

While being early has it advantages, Chef Li himself admitted that the broth for his Hokkien Mee gets better after 9am.

This bowl cost me RM12 (with added pork ribs) and while it is undeniably a good, authentic bowl of Penang Hokkien Mee (finally one that is worthy to be labeled as such!), it lacked the depth of flavour that would have elevated it from good to excellent.

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So, will hardcore fans or true blue Penangites be satisfied with this bowl?

Yes, I could confidently said you would.
Just arrive after 9.30am (for better flavoured stock as Chef Li himself had advised) and be prepared to wait for your bowl.
You can opt for the RM7 (smallest portion as pictured above) bowl if you are uncertain, but rest assured that the rich prawn and pork stock is fastidiously boiled for hours minus flavour enhancements for the best possible taste.

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If you are a carnivore, proceed for the RM12 bowl with added pork ribs.
The 2 chunks I got were tender and meaty and besides the pork ribs, Chef Li added prawns too.
Personally, I prefer shorter ribs to big chunky ones like these as I felt those are tastier.

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The laksa (M for RM6.50, B for RM7.50) boasts a tantalising combination of tang and sweetness (lacking in spicy department though) and the de rigueur prawn paste (hae kor) was present.
It is a reasonably large serving for M (medium) but there isn’t much to expect other than noodles and soup since there isn’t any large fish chunks added.
Hence if you’re thinking of ordering this, do set your expectations accordingly.

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Penang-lang curiosity satisfied, I sampled my makan partner’s wantan mee next.

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The noodles appeared to be dry at first, but we found out soon enough that every stand was well flavoured and each mouthful yield a good satisfying bite.
To be frank I’m never a fan of the overly “qq” texture that most people favour, but I did enjoy this wantan mee.

For RM7.50 it was served with a side of 3 plump wantan (meat dumplings) which I duly inspected and happy to report that they were meaty, not overly fatty and nicely seasoned.
Good stuff!

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But it was the char siew that will make me a regular; chunky cuts with balanced proportions of fat and lean meat, it wasn’t too sweet and remarkably tender with the prerequisite melt-in-the-mouth fat that all char siew fans crave for.

Could this be the best char siew in KL/PJ?

Well, it has the potential for sure. I think most char siew fans (judging from the crowd at Meng Kee/Toast & Roast/Char Siew Yoong) would prefer a bit more caramelisation (sweeter) and charred edges.

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Conclusion:
This is the current hotspot for wantan mee, Penang hokkien mee and assam laksa at the moment and depending on your preference, all 3 dishes are worth ordering.
Some might remark that the pricing is slightly on the higher side and while I agree that it is RM1-RM2 costlier than the average bowl, please be reminded that you are paying for “home-cooked” hawker dishes that are conscientiously prepared by 2 men who are passionate about what they serve and most, if not all items are personally prepared by hand.
Neither took shortcuts with the ingredients used and all 3 dishes that I had were served in reasonable portions for the price.

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Last but least, if you are heading there soon, please tapau more of that char siew for me!

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Lum Choong Kee Bamboo Noodles & Chef Li’s Penang delights

Hours: 7am til finish (around 1-2pm).
Off: Once fortnightly on Tuesday.
For Chef Li, you can contact his mobile number as shown in the image of his stall above.

LOCATION: Restoran Kepong Famous Crab (coffeeshop) – next to New Grand View Restoran
42, Jalan SS 23/11 ,
Taman Sea (Taman Megah side)
47400 PJ.

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