Although called mee siam, the Siamese have no inkling of what it is. The dish takes its name from the rice vermicelli which originates from Thailand.
Another Johor favourite with a misleading name is Mee Bandung. If you are in a restaurant in Bandung, Indonesia and happen to order this dish, all you'll get is a very puzzled look from the waiter.
The Muar district of Johor claims to make the best mee bandung in the state. In the old town of Muar (also known as Bandar Maharani), there are a few places that specializes in serving this noodle dish but our favourite has always been Mee Bandung Abu Bakar Hanipah at Jalan Abdullah, right in the middle of town. Last Sunday, we were in Tangkak to visit my brother-in-law. On the way back, we decided to make a detour into Muar town just for the fun of it... and of course, stop by for a plate of mee bandung.
En. Abu Bakar operates from a small stall within a Chinese coffee shop. I first visited this place back in the mid-80's and the taste of his mee bandung has remained the same, delicious as always. These days, he has two other branches in Muar, run by his son and daughter, but he still remains at the modest stall where it started. He has even expanded his business to sell his homemade bandung mix, neatly packed for storage in your fridge. With this paste, you can now make your own mee bandung at home by just adding the fresh ingredients and yet still maintain that authentic taste. It is a recipe handed down to him from his father since 1930.
En. Abu Bakar is a friendly old man. When he was not busy, he came to our table for a chat. We found out that the popular mee bandung muar stall near our home in JB is run by his nephew. That explains the very similar taste. At the end of our meal, I requested for photo shot with him and he willingly obliged. The wall of the kopitiam is adorned with pictures of celebrities and VIPs who have dropped by to savour his dish.
If you happen to be in Muar town in day time, try to look for Wah San Coffeeshop at Jalan Abdullah. Finding a parking space during weekdays can be quite a torture but the mee bandung is really worth it. And the coffee is quite good too.
|Old shophouses along Jalan Abdullah|
|Wah San Kopitiam from the front|
|A nice teatime meal of mee bandung, satay and kopi muor|
|Celebrity pics on the wall. See if you can recognize any|
|The man himself flanked by the missus and yours truly|