A taste of the nostalgic and traditional Curry Mee in Penang is no other then the Sister Curry Mee. The octogenarians operate from a small shed in an alley in Ayer Itam, Penang, and serve customers with a smile.
The sisters have continued with the business left to them by their mother and both show no signs of slowing down despite their age. More than 70 years ago, the Lim sisters came to Penang together with their mother Tan Ah Heng and settled here from Haadyai, Thailand.
Kooi Heang is now 88 and though hunched and frail-looking, she sits on a low rattan chair as she methodically prepares each bowl of curry mee: putting handfuls of noodles into the bowls before passing them to her grand-daughter, Ong May May, who then ladles the boiling soup and other ingredients into them.
Kooi Lye, now 86, sits on a low plastic stool at the front, occasionally stirring the pot of spiced broth while taking orders and acting as the cashier, keeping the cash in her pouch and handing out change efficiently.
Sister Curry Mee, as the makeshift stall is known, is an icon in Air Itam.
It’s not a stall or a pushcart, just pots and bowls with the sisters serving up hot bowls of curry noodles. For many years, there were no tables and chairs for customers either except for a few low stools. Customers had to squat next to the sisters or sit on the stools and enjoy their noodles that way.
Now they have a couple tables nearby and three stools out front in case you want to try sitting on the stools to enjoy the noodles. Otherwise, most customers are encouraged to sit at a coffee stall across the narrow lane.
Unlike the commercialised curry mee versions elsewhere, the curry mee here has remained simple and delicate without all the “noise” of extra ingredients or additional flavourings.
They serve up a very simple and straightforward broth that is light and smooth with just the right balance of coconut milk. The bowl of noodles is then topped with a scoop of tau pok (fried beancurd puff) and spicy cuttlefish. A dollop of homemade sambal brings the whole thing together, giving it extra spicy oomph without overpowering the delicate broth.
They are located at Jalan Air Itam, Pekan Ayer Itam and open at 7:30am-1pm. Join us to explore this wonderful authentic curry see.