The quintessential dish of Sibu, Kampua Mee, done to perfection.
Sibu is a FooChow / Fuzhou town, meaning most of its Chinese population speaks that dialect. There are many dishes associated with FooChow cuisine, but above all, the simple, dry-noodle dish called Kampua Mee is the most famous. Our host and good friend Mike took us around to his favorite haunts in his hometown of Sibu, including his favorite Kampua Mee stall at Liang Yew Cafe, located just across the street from the Masland Methodist Church and not far away from the Sibu Central Market.
The Difference is Dark
The first time we had kampua mee in Kuching, it was a plate of noodles dressed very simply with some oil, fried shallots, and chopped spring onions. For a lot of reasons, I was not impressed.
The plates that Mike ordered for us were different – the noodles had been tossed with some dark soy sauce, which gave it a richer, deeper flavor. The noodles themselves, thicker and smoother than normal Hong Kong-style won ton noodles, were chewy and springy and cooked to perfection. I also noticed that their fried shallots were very good – fried just right so you get that sweet onion flavor without a bitter burnt aftertaste. Thin slices of lean roast pork complete the garnish. The chili sauce is viscous and sweet, with a bit of vinegary tartness and a light chili bite.
Alongside our order of noodles, we also got a plate of small, slippery won tons and a bowl of pork liver soup (not seen).
Kampua Mee Machine
After finishing my plate, I turned my attention to the proprietor working the stall out at the front of the shop. He had quite an operation going, and was working non-stop! The man certainly had all his mess in place and he was turning out bowls and bowls of kampua mee like a machine.
First, he’d gather up a handful of noodles from his pile and toss it into the vat of boiling water. Then he’d prepare the sauces and seasonings in his “tossing” bowl. Reaching into the vat with his spider strainer, he would lift out the noodles and give them a couple of firm tosses to drain the liquid. Then, into the bowl for a quick toss before transferring to the serving dish.
I stood there, mesmerized as he performed this operation over and over. His wife helped by taking away filled bowls and replacing the stacks with new, clean bowls. The thing is, the restaurant wasn’t very busy at this time – only a couple other tables were occupied by patrons. Where were all these servings going?
One table was telling – about a dozen plastic lunch containers were stacked up, waiting. You see, the Masland Methodist Church across the street operates a kindergarten and primary school on-site. And there are lots of hungry little kids who are going to be getting his perfect kampua mee, come snack time.
Other reviews of Lian Yew Cafe: Mike, Mike again, and again, and again
Recipe for kampua mee, also by Mike. He likes it. Hey Mikey!
26 thoughts on “Kampua Mee @ Liang Yew Cafe, Sibu”
Oh yes ! Kampua Mee ! I love eating Kampua Mee in Sibu – still the best ! Nothing in Kuching comes close.
With all the Sibu people who have moved over to Kuching, surely there must be some good kampua mee around here!
I love Kampua mee too, when I visited my sister in law who living in Sibu, i asked her to bring me eat Kampua mee almost every breakfast, hehehe.. It is hardly to find good kampua mee in Klang valey here.
wow, every day! That must’ve been some good kampua mee. Do you remember the name of the store?
I don’t think I ever tasted Kampua mee before.
well, if you follow Mike’s recipe link at the bottom of this post, you’ll get a good taste of what it’s like!
That bowl of noodles look really good. The one I had in Kuching was without the dark soy sauce but it was pretty good. I think people from the peninsular prefers it with the dark soy sauce.
Hi! Sorry I’ve not been blogging for quite a while, but I’m really glad to see the juicy plate of kampua mee! While Sibu has her special kampua mee, Kuching has her amazing kolo mee. Have you tried any good ones in KCH?
There’s a place in Sibu which my brother used to bring us to try out their most awesome plate of prawn mee. I can’t remember where it is, but I know it’s super delicious. I’m sure your friend, Mike knows what I’m saying… cheers!
We have a favorite kolo mee stall which we visit about once a week. We’ll be featuring it in a future post!
Cool! Will be looking forward to that 🙂
BTW, I’ve made my own kolo mee with an italian twist, which I will feature in my post soon…
I love to see this kind of scene, with people cooking from scratch just in front of you. It’s a shame the asians here in LA don’t keep tradition like that. I think would be awesome if our Chinatown had that on the streets. Awesome and yummy, lol. I betcha that noodle was amazing.
we think hawker stalls are the best kind of cooking because everything is made fresh right in front of your eyes. Taco trucks and the like are pretty similar, and you folks in LA have a lot of those, right?
That is what I miss and love about Asia….
why’d you leave?
I never heard of this dish. Wonder how much a bowl cost? That side of won ton served up on a plate looked funny that way. I’m so used to it in a bowl of soup.
typically these plates cost around 2.50 to 3 Ringgit, or less than 1 US dollar.
I remember one of my friend from Miri cooked this before and it was very delicious 🙂
Bah!! I’ve never had these noodles before! It looks like regular fried mee? But yeah…look at that dark color…I’m drooooling because I love the intensity of it, and I can almost taste it now! I’m still on the look-out for good, dark soy sauce…you only find the diluted kikkoman stuff here! 🙁
There was at least one place in Singapore that had Sibu-style Kampua Mee:
I’m sure you can find some decent dark soy sauce in any well-stocked Asian grocery there in SoCal.
Wow, wish I had attended THAT school!
Thanks for your interesting co-mee-tary. The guy should be wearing his own apron that says “Best in Sibu”!
hehehe too punny!
I want those wontons.
Thanks so much for sharing – brings back a lot of memories. I lived in Sibu for 10 years when I was growing up. With my mum’s side of the family being foochow, kampua mee was a regular carry-out meal. We ate it for breakfast, lunch, and as a “snack.” *grin* My favorite is the spicy kampua mee – the one tossed in chili sauce. Yum!
Hi, first time here.
When i google for some dessert and stumble this blog.
Hey, i miss lian yew kampua or i should said i miss all the kampua in Sibu. I can have kampua everyday for breakfast.
Interesting blog, add you in my favourite.
welcome! Thanks for commenting and favoriting us. I do hope you stick around and try some of our recipes. Too bad we don’t have one for kampua mee (yet).