I love noodles. Like Sophia Loren famously said, “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” Except me, I don’t draw the line at spaghetti. I never met a noodle didn’t like. I like them skinny, wide, flat, shaped and everything in between. The only noodles I don’t like are the ones that are limp and overcooked. Soggy noodles make me sad.
The best noodles are cooked to a bouncy springy-ness that has a definite texture and tooth when you bite into them. They should be coated nicely with sauce and other ingredients but not drowning in either. There is a delicate balance that has to be achieved between the noodles themselves and what gets mixed into them. I’m a real sucker for an Asian rice noodle. They have a silky texture that feels good on your tongue, and a nice absorbent quality that soaks up all kinds of saucy funkiness without losing any personality.
I think I have found one of the most perfect noodle dishes in town. It satisfies all my pasta desires. It is called Char Kway Teow and it is found at Malaysia Café at 21st and Rock Road. This dish is made of flat, wide rice noodles sauteed with beef, shrimp, egg and bean sprouts. It’s fairly unctuous, slippery with whatever oil they are cooked in (in Malaysia, this dish is made with pure lard), savory and fragrant. It smells fantastic, smoky from the red-hot wok it’s cooked in and deeply flavorful with dark soy sauce. Once you taste it, you will never want another sorry plate of buffet lo mien again.
Malaysia Café is completely unpretentious. The food is served in Styrofoam to-go containers and nothing costs more than seven dollars. They serve many other Malaysian specialties, but they really have a way with noodles. All the food is good but the Char Kway Teow is really outstanding. If you are not afraid of lard or carbohydrates or of looking a little more like Sophia Loren AND me, Malaysia Cafe is the place for you.