It took me a second visit to finally catch the Sister Curry Mee stall open at Air Itam, Penang. I wasn’t aware of their opening time before and visited late afternoon after my visit at Kek Lok Si temple. Now I wouldn’t want to leave Penang without tasting this Malaysian dish from a stall that has been serving them for at least 73 years already.
Sister Curry Mee
This humble curry mee shed had been open after World War 2 (1946). And the Lim sisters helped out their mom at the stall to support their family. Now in their 80s, Madam Lim Kooi Lye not at 83 and Madam Lim Kooi Heang at 85 still try to help out on what they can. Whether it be taking orders, arranging the bowls or putting ingredients in order. I caught the young Maymay, a relative, grandniece if I’m not mistaken, doing the heavy lifting now and pouring in the ingredients and broth into the bowls. She hopes to learn more and inherit their culinary tradition and business.
I excitedly ordered a bowl of Curry Mee noodles for just MYR 5. And took it at one of the small tables and monobloc chairs across the small alley. Took pleasure in smelling the aroma, the spices lingering in the air. And took a sip of the broth. There’s a distinct taste on the fish stock. A hint of smokiness, probably because they are still cooked traditionally over coal. Then there’s the right amount of chili. It wasn’t as strong as I expected but pleasantly subtle.
So here I am, eating by the street on small tables and chairs, the same way Sister Curry Mee had served their famous bowls for years. I couldn’t imagine taking this bowl out of this place. For some reason, it belonged here. With the familiar noise of the market place at the main Street. The sound of passing vehicles. The flurry of people at the alley and eating alongside the locals. There’s a comforting feeling here on every sip. A flavour that is carried over time. Penang heritage not just exist on its old wall. But remains on this age-old dish.
Sister Curry Mee
Air Itam (alley right after the bridge)
Business hours: 7:30 AM to 1PM (or until supplies last)