But not only the chef has to have qualities, also his customers. Mainly, they have to be patient. Which they are and which shows again that uncle must have himself quite something to offer! So see where we are getting?
The situation is always the same, every night. All tables are filled with waiting guests. When you make an order, uncle barely looks at you and only gives you brief answers. Then you have to wait… 20 minutes at least. It happens that one abandons and leaves, but it has rather something to do with unsufferable hunger than with impatience. People like to wait for uncle. They are martyrs for noodles.
Meanwhile it is also fascinating to watch him. It is like watching a religious ceremony. It seems that he counts each noodle, that every drop of sauce he puts into a bowl has a crucial signification.
At one point you silently get your portion of Wan Tan Mee followed by the well meant words “5 dollars!”.
My brother and his friends know uncle since years; they now and then try to build up a relationship in order maybe to one day profit from a prefered treatment. They’re still at case one waiting for uncle to at least look at them.
But then, once you have your food – in this case Tapao (to go) – you feel relieved and forget about the uncles‘ ways. The noodles are comfort food. They still your hunger at the same time they’re warming your soul. But what’s the secret? If you look at it objectively, there’s nothing spectacular in your bowl. Noodles, black sauce, chilies, some spring onion and here and there a small pork-filled raviole which gives an extra taste-kick. Maybe people love uncle because he can make this one thing only, but really good. Anyhow, everyone comes back to his stall again and again.
Wan Tan Mee Uncle
stall at crossing of TingkatTongShin and Jalan Sahabat
(in front of Hotel Rae)
Bukit Bintang, KL
opens late in the evening