Things have changed…

The other day, my friend in KL, the hubby of one of the bloggers who came that day, shared some photographs on Facebook and tagged me. There was this kampua mee place…

Ah Ma Sarawak kampua mee

…that he stumbled upon at some place called Bandar Sungai Long and he went and tried…

Ah Ma Sarawak kampua mee, the noodles

He wasn’t all that impressed, it seemed as a friend asked him for his verdict and he just said, “OK, can be better!

Well, with the minced meat added, it sure did not look like Sibu kampua mee, more like Kuching kolo mee even though they insist in their shop sign that they’re “original Sibu“, with the Sarawak flag thrown in for good measure. Other than that, when they serve kampua mee here, they will give you bottled chili sauce in a small saucer. That looked like the sambal belacan for Sarawak laksa – maybe my friend got it all mixed up as he did have the laksa as well.

My friend, Annie, in KL went to this one…

Ex-Sunway kampua mee

…at its new location in PJ. The guy used to be somewhere in Sunway, much to the delight of the students from Sarawak at the college/university there. My nephew from Bintulu said they would always go there to eat so they did not miss home and kampua mee all that much.

Just like the previous one, this one too has minced meat, something you will not find in authentic kampua mee since time immemorial but things have changed and you will find minced meat in your bowl of noodles at some places here in Sibu

Rasa Sayang kampua mee

Another thing you will not find a lot of in kampua mee here would be the fried shallots and chopped spring onion that they use to garnish the dish…

Ah Kow's son kampua, Polyclinic

…except for this one, perhaps…

Liang Yew kampua mee

They was widely known for their generous sprinkling of their fried shallots that they kept tightly closed in a milk or Milo tin to keep it nice and crispy. Once, when my uncle and his family from Kuching were in town and we stopped by there for the noodles, my uncle went to ask why they did not give so much anymore and the old guy replied that shallots were way too expensive these days so they had to cut down on it.

In the 50’s, a plate of kampua mee cost 50 cents only, with meat and 30 cents, without meat and they would open their shops/stalls at the break of dawn and stay open till late at night. If you dropped by mid-afternoon, they would willingly turn up their fire to get the water boiling to cook you a plate. These days, even before noon, they would be cleaning up and closing for the day already and some will open around 6.00 p.m. in the evening till around 10.

In those good old days, a common sight at these kampua mee stalls in the afternoon would be their giant kuali/wok of pork fat. With a lot more time on their hands, they would grab the chance to render the lard for their use. After they had the oil they needed, they would use it to fry the peeled and thinly sliced shallots…and the fragrance would fill the air. I do not know if the ones today still do that – we certainly do not get to see them doing it in public like that. For one thing, when I asked at one place here, the guy told me that lard is too expensive these days so they would mix it with cooking oil…

Soon Hock pian sip mee

Obviously, that is why a lot of kampua mee here these days lacks the fragrance of the shallot pork oil – I would not be surprised if some do not bother to use it at all!

I also know that at some places, they use a food processor to chop the shallots so after frying, there will be all the minute bits and when tossed with the noodles, it would be such a mess and not a pleasant sight to behold. Some places will do the tossing in a bowl and transfer the noodles onto a plate and serve – others do not bother and it looks kind of messy/dirty. Obviously, a lot of people do not mind about the “presentation” – they just eat.

Long ago, kampua mee was served with boiled meat, dyed red so what we got would be kind of pinkish orange…

Kampu amee, old school meat

Eventually, there was a ban on the colouring used. The practice stopped for a while but it seems that many are doing it again…

Boiled pork, dyed red

Perhaps, they are now using some kind of permitted dye, I wouldn’t know. Some places will use stewed pork instead – I sure would not mind that…

Kampua mee, stewed pork

I cannot remember exactly what kampua mee was like in my younger days – no matter how authentic they insist theirs is today, it sure is not the same anymore. Long ago, they used locally-made (or at least, that was I thought they were) chio cheng (light soy sauce) in a jar and locally-made chili sauce, also in a jar. I remember my late cousin would always want to go to the washroom after eating the noodles tossed in the chili sauce…but once and once only. What they use today sure aren’t as nice so of course, what you get will be different from what we had before. They are all from West Malaysia or China, all in bottles…or when they buy in bulk, in big rectangular kerosene tins.

Even the noodles may be different these days – kampua mee is handmade, thicker and straight while kolo mee is machine made, thinner and more curly – but they are used interchangeably these days and some people may prefer one over the other which may not be what we used to enjoy long ago.

Well, say what you want. Time passes, things change. These days, there are so many coffee shops, so many kampua mee stalls. Don’t be surprised that the kampua mee at one place may be different from the one right next door. We just take each one as it is – no need to make a fuss and as long as it is nice (enough), we will go and enjoy it, no point hanging on to what’s past, knowing that things will never be the same again.

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

8 thoughts on “Things have changed…”

  1. As far as I know, authentic kampua comes only with thinly sliced pinkish boiled meat with sprinkle of fried shallots, never with char siu, minced meat or stewed pork. Those kampua with char siu, minced meat and stewed pork, I guess it is for the sellers own creativity. I might be wrong too Only kolo mee are served with char siu and minced meat.

    Well, what is there to stop anyone from doing it the way they like…and what their customers like? I like the ones with stewed pork, anytime nicer than the boiled pork (but no, I would not want any of the sauce contaminating my kampua mee, white no less). And the char siew with kampua mee is not even char siew, unlike the ones in Kuching kolo mee – it is just boiled pork coloured red…and some of the red colour can be quite shocking! I would rather not eat those!

    As for extra thin slices, it seems that people nowadays are no good at cutting things that way. Guess the new generation do not care so much anymore. When my mum was around, she would scold, “Khak eyew tam pok! An chua anay cho lor!!!”

  2. One plate of kampua and a bowl of piansip please!!! I really like kampua or kolo without the dark sauce.. in Ipoh, I can only have wanton noodles!

    Yes, and the noodles would be swimming in the dark sauce. That is why sometimes I would order them served in soup, don’t want the sauce.

  3. Even if the taste doesn’t quite live up to expectations, most dishes at least look beautiful.

    Yes, and some more beautiful than others. Presentation is important, shouldn’t just simply dump everything on a plate and serve.

  4. What’s the difference between kampua and kolo mee?

    Hey, hello!!! Haven’t seen you around for a long time. I don’t have access to your blog anymore – upon invitation only or something like that.
    Somebody wrote an article on the difference – I can’t find it now.

    Other than the presence of the minced meat, kampua mee is handmade, thicker and straight while kolo mee is machine made, thinner and more curly – but they are used interchangeably these days…and you get real char siew with kolo mee, not boiled meat coloured red…and no complimentary soup with kolo mee. You get bottled chili sauce with kampua mee, red/green chili slices soaked in vinegar with kolo mee. On top of everything else, though they may look rather similar, the taste between the two is different – you will just have to eat both to be able to tell. If they taste the same, then somebody is pulling a fast one on you – you’ve been cheated!

  5. I have yet to have a taste of authentic kampua mee….but there are plenty of kolo mee here. 😀

    Oh? Nobody from Sibu? Lots in KL, it seems.

  6. For those in KL would like to try the authentic taste of Kampua, go and try this one at SS19 Subang, it won’t disappointed you and the taste just so yum and can beat Sibu’s kampua. It has kampua and pork oil taste.
    Minced meat added because we paid a lot extra and maybe to suit the people here instead of just few slices of meat and noodles.

    Yes, been around for so many years now. My nephew was studying in Sunway, now graduated, working already…and this guy is still going strong though he has changed location. My nephew said just like the kampua he would get to eat at home. Bintulu or Sibu!

  7. Same as tekkaus, i did not hv a chance to taste kampua mee yet but kolo mee, yes, in sg.

    Chances are what they serve you as kolo mee is actually kampua, much easier to prepare and cook. Like the ones in Sibu, most of them are what I call “kampua in disguise”, taste just like kampua, nothing like authentic Kuching kolo mee.

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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