KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Restoran 168 is something of a Pudu institution when it comes to classic Malaysian noodles dishes. Even then, it’s really more of a hawker outlet than a restaurant given its messy cooking and dining area; an organised chaos that also spills out onto the pavement surrounding its lot.
The diner is quite a sight if you’re not used to hawker-style dining. However, if you’re game to seat yourself amidst a clutter of plastic tables and stools along a narrow curb – you are in for a feast of authentic and affordable Malaysian noodle dishes that won’t disappoint.
Curry Laksa With Egg Noodles
Curry Laksa is one of Malaysia’s most famed noodle dishes but it’s not always well made. The curry laksa at 168 is one of our favourites because it’s possible to opt for either one of the following as your noodle base:
- fresh egg noodles (wan tan mee)
- rice vermicelli (mee hoon)
- flat rice noodles (hor fun)
- yellow noodles (mee kuning)
- pre-fried noodles (yee mee)
- or, even a mix of different noodles
However, we think wan tan mee is best. It pairs especially well with the curried broth and is well-loved for its al dente bite and fresh, egg-y taste. It’s a shame that many laksa vendors in this town choose not to serve this type of egg noodle with their curry. This is because wan tan mee has a shorter shelf life than other noodle types making it less convenient for some hawkers.
The other thing about this type of egg noodles is that it requires some skill to blanch; a technique that requires dexterity with timing and water temperature. This is why many vendors find it a fussy noodle to handle.
The laksa at 168 comes with a good standard of toppings – pillows of fried tofu, chewy slices of pork skin, and a portion of freshly shucked cockles but you’ll need to pay extra for additions like stuffed eggplant.
It’s possible to omit the cockles as this pungent, briny bivalve isn’t for everyone but we find that cockles add a great fishy accent to the curried laksa soup making it highly recommended.
The only let down with the curry laksa at 168 is that it doesn’t come with any chicken; a popular meat accompaniment with traditional Curry Laksa.
Wan Tan Mee – Several Ways
Mee Soup (noodles in soup) is another signature 168 dish and a good call if you are after flavour without the weight of a creamy broth. Again, you may choose your noodle base but we recommend the classic wan tan mee. It is the best and most traditional combination with won ton (dumplings) and char siew (barbecued pork).
At 168, this dish arrives in a big ceramic bowl filled with noodles, barbecued meats, plump dumplings, and leafy vegetables. Add to that, a generous sprinkle of fried lard chips, and this is a bowl of noodles that will stay in your memory long after the meal.
If you want a noodle fix but can’t handle sweating over a bowl of hot soup in the noon heat of Kuala Lumpur, a Dry Wan Tan Mee is available. A bowl of soup with dumplings arrives as a side to an otherwise dry version of wan tan mee. This sauce-smothered variation is served on a plate with the noodles drenched in a dark gravy, topped with barbecued pork slices, and peppered with shallots and fried lard.
The dry noodle is a street food staple all over Malaysia and 168 does a flavourful but stodgy version thanks to plenty of fatty barbecued pork and more of that fried lard. This is not a noodle order for the calorie-watcher but let us say that the lard does make the dish sing.
Fried lard bits are the garnish of our dreams here at The Binge, but it is optional – so don’t despair if you’re not a fan of crispy pork fat. Just let the person taking the order know that you want this left out.
Won Ton & Sui Gao Dumplings
If noodles aren’t your thing, order a bowl of shrimp and pork dumplings in soup sans noodles. The smaller, rounded dumplings are won tons and the bigger, half moon-shaped ones are sui gao.
The lack of noodles makes this a lightweight menu choice and it’s a good dish to have if you aren’t very hungry, or want to limit your carb-intake.
What’s great about these dumplings is that you may also order them deep fried (instead of blanched) for a crunchy snack.
They sell these fried won tons and sui gao by the piece but trust us – one won’t be enough. Half a dozen seems just right.
And, if the fried dumplings are not enough to satisfy you, a huge array of Yong Tao Fu (fish or pork mince stuffed into vegetables and beancurd rolls) are ready for the picking – enjoy these as a side or added to your noodles.
Restoran 168 sits at the corner of Jalan Brunei Utara and opposite SRJK Chong Fah Phit Chee.
It’s especially popular on weekends so arrive early if it is Curry Laksa you want because this dish usually sells out before noon. This joint is not the cleanest place in town. However, if you want a rustic, street-side dining experience, then this is the place for classic, Malaysian noodles in very authentic, hawker-style surrounds.
Serves Pork – lots of it!
- Authentic Malaysian hawker-style curry laksa and noodles
- A great feed at a very low price – Small: RM6.oo (USD1.35) Medium: RM6.50 (USD1.46), Large: RM6.80 (USD1.53). Extra charges apply to additional toppings of meat and vegetables as per request.
- The crunchy lard sprinkles.
- The fried dumplings – you can’t eat just one.
- Driving and come by Uber. Street parking in the area is near impossible.
- Dressing up for the occasion. It’s street food and not fancy dining at 168.