When we walked along Jalan Macalister during the recent Penang trip, we were attracted by a banner hanging outside a shop written big and clear "Ah Lim Birthday Noodles" (written in Chinese). The curiosity had brought us into the shop to try out what is this birthday mee is all about!
The phrase appeared to be very fresh to us because as far as Penang delicacies are concern, people will normally think of those signature stuff like Penang Char Kway Teow, Hokkien Mee, Penang Laksa and etc etc. "Birthday mee" is something never came across our mind and never heard as well.
As the day still early, there were not many customers in the shop. We ordered 3 plates of Birthday Mee. While waiting for the noodles to be served, my curiosity exploded! As so, I walked around the stall where the noodle was prepare, taking photos and read some newspaper cutting displayed on the stall introduce about the stall, then tried to "interview" the owner.
"Boss, why it is called Birthday Mee har?", I asked in Mandarin. The owner's reply was very simple, "because people did eat this noodle during birthday lo...". Direct enough? But he replied me in a very humble, soft and shy way. He didn't have the ego like some of the widely well-known eateries around the country. Maybe his stall still not achieve that level yet? ;)
To satisfied our curiosity, the owner was kind enough to share some books introducing his stall and his foods to us so that we could be more informative about his product. You just can't underestimate his popularity when his stall as well as the food had been properly documented inside an well-established book, can you?
The noodles we ordered were served to us just in a couple of minutes. That's the moment our curiosity finally get fulfilled when the real thing was placed in front of our eyes. The Birthday Mee was actually the noodles what people from Peninsular used to call as "Lam Mee" which refers to noodles served with gravy.
From the information I get, what make this Ah Lim's Lam Mee so special is that there is no Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) a.k.a Ajinomoto or artificial flavor was added when preparing the gravy. It was cooked using the pork spare ribs for hours to get its natural sweetness. The noodles used are also specially selected from a specific supplier which didn't have bitter taste to preserve the deliciousness of the mee.
The dish also garnished with some bean sprouts, shallots, pinkish slivers of eggs, prawns and also some brownish ingredient which I couldn't figure out what they were. The taste didn't leave me with too much of impression, but for those who prefer to eat a lighter flavor's food, this is the one you should never miss!! The sambal provided is to add extra kick to the dish if you wish.
A plate of Birthday Mee is RM 3.00. Pretty affordable! We also had tried the nutmeg drink, which is a very popular beverage in Penang! Sorry... I forgot about the price..