On my last day in Phuket, I decided to leave again the tourist bubble of Patong Beach and venture into Phuket Town – as always, in search of some new nums. Apart from Old Town, which is riddled with bistros and pizzerias with smiling Italian chef statues and happy hour deals meant to usher the expats inside, Phuket Town ain’t that bad. There’s hustle and bustle. There’s a great market with fresh food and happy vendors chattering to each other (more on this later) as they sell, in the morning, loads of veggies and fish to local restaurant owners for the day. There’s 200 year old Chinese Taoist temples and there’s tin-boom Sino-Portuguese mansions. There’s Wat Mangkol Nimit, a Thai temple, with orange-clad, barefooted monks buzzing around it.
On Thalang Road, I found a a little place which consisted of 4-5 tables in what looked like a garage, with a kitchen right near the entrance and a room with a tv and a fan in the back. There was a local-looking couple in there silently eating something delicious in a bowl and a menu with 6-7 items all in Thai. I went in, sat down and when the lady approached me with water, I said “one” and pointed my index finger. She smiled and looked at the couple for help. The husband said to her “hokkien mee”.
So hokkien mee it was, a Malaysian dish. The lady, probably Singaporian, rushed to her wok, poured in a bit of lard or pork fat, some chiles, a scramble-ready egg and some yellow egg noodles which soaked this tasty fat up perfectly without becoming to greasy. She tossed in a few tender shrimps and rings of squid and 2-3 chewy but soft, pink sliced up shrimp balls. The seafood resonated fantastically with the pork fat and this combo created multiple layers of flavor. Last she added a bit of kale and sautéed it in until it wilted down to a soft, slimy delicious texture. She served a perfect snack-sized portion in a really nice bowl of China, different from those at the other table.
Although this was a Malaysian dish, I added some nam pla phrik, which was sitting on the side, because this was my last day in Thailand and I had grown to love this simple condiment of fish sauce, lime juice, sliced garlic and chopped bird’s eye chiles, as ubiquitous as salt in Thai meals.
Spicy, super hot on an already boiling hot day, very tasty. Healthy sweat running down my forehead as I enjoyed this bowl of noodles.