Food from Malaysia: Claypot noodles (without the claypot)

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ May 12th, 2011. Updated on May 12th, 2012. Published in: Travel blog » Food around the world » Malaysian food.
Claypot noodles from Malaysia

Claypot noodles from Malaysia, but without the claypot!

What is claypot noodle soup from West Malaysia?

Traditionally clay pots were soaked in water, food placed inside them and then heated to cook the food. The process uses no fat, and due to the steaming process the food retains a lot of its nutrients.

This technique dates back to Roman times, and is still used throughout Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

What are the ingredients to claypot noodles?

Basically, anything. It’s essentially a mix of vegetables, stock, meat (optional), and noodles. All cooked within a claypot (cough, cough, more later)

Depending on the restaurant you go to, the chances are they will have their own variation. Ranging from Fishhead claypot to beef claypot.

Claypot noodles in West Malaysia

Expensive tourist restaurants, I try to avoid. Down a few side streets at the edge of the touristy district I found some Chinese Malaysian hawkers selling Claypot noodle. On one side were claypots covered in foil sitting over hot coals, on the other … well, just a sign.

I asked the price where the claypots were simmering. 15 ringgit, which is about USD $5.

Plastic pot noodles from Malaysia

Plastic pot noodles from Malaysia

Tempted, my instinct told me to move to the other store where the unseen claypot noodle dish was 4 ringgit USD$1.35.

At that price: I ordered immediately.

Claypot noodles vs Plastic-pot noodles

I watched as the cook took a bright pink plastic bowl, and filled it with the contents from a huge metal pot. Some yellow noodles were tossed around before also being put into my bowl followed by some fresh green leaves.

During all this I noticed the stall next door topping up empty claypots from the same huge metal pot. Ah ha!

“Same, same,” I said to my hawker cook as my plastic bowl was presented to me.

He looked at me pointing to claypot stall next door, then at my bowl. A wry smile appeared and he confessed a nod.

“Same, same.”

How did my plastic-pot noodle taste?

Incredibly good! There was a mix of ground pork meat, shredded chicken, and several fish balls. The vegetables were green beans, chili, bean sprouts, green leaf and huge dried mushrooms (really good). Add to this some firm egg flavored noodles soaking up the fresh light lemon grass infused soup, and it was hard to complain.

The old tourist food game

Make it look authentic and people will pay more. Last year there was a scandal over high-end French restaurants using ready-made food (The telegraph) for expensive dishes. Does anyone not think that local hawkers in tourist centers would do the same to reduce costs, and maximize profits too?

And, quite honestly, very few people will ever know the difference. Unless that is they see the food being prepared in front of them.

Which is better claypot noodles or plastic pot noodles?

Does it taste good, did you enjoy how it was presented? Sometimes it’s better not to think about these things when traveling. I’ve tried both.

Food taps into such feelings as visual pleasure, mental expectation, taste delivery, eating environment and physical experience.

In this case both food dishes were the same, just presented differently. Go for what’s important and enjoyable to you.

For me, I enjoyed the plastic-pot noodles experience!

This is an additional post and one of a series highlighting Food in West Malaysia

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18 Great responses to Food from Malaysia: Claypot noodles (without the claypot)

  1. Anna's World says:

    Looks so good for under $2! Is it easy to get in Malaysia at that price?

  2. Lol! The visitors eating the “clay pot” noodles thought they were paying for authenticity, but the cooking method was the same. Good thing you went for the bargain-priced option :) You can’t go wrong with a $1 bowl of noodles.

  3. hayadith says:

    this type of noodles are vary familiar in Malaysian menu..

    Chinese have different/ various types of noodle menu..and since I am Malay, our similar menu would be..

    mee bandung
    mee hailam
    mee rebus
    mee sup

    For indian, well..mee curry,

    another type of noodle menu is called Laksa.
    We differentiate laksa not according to race of origin, but by state..

    We have ..

    laksa johor (from state of Johor)
    Laksa penang (from Penang)
    Laksa Sarawak (from sarawak)

    so, gain some kilos, and EAT~, hehe..

    anyway, when you talk to Malaysia, no matter which race, we have our the same slang.For example the word ‘lah’

    We use ‘lah’ at the end of line/phrase/reply

    For examples

    Come on lah
    Please lah
    Okay lah

    but we’re not using lah for everything..
    ‘lah’ is to express to say..ok, instead of saying, COME ON!!!!, we say ‘come on lah’ to urge

    instead of saying..”oh, it’s okay”..we say..’ok lah’

    something like that..

  4. Erin D says:

    Funny story & yummy looking noodles! Now I am going to be craving these….thanks! :-)

  5. Harry says:

    Good observation skills there. I often wonder about the stuff they put into food here too!

  6. Spencer says:

    The best part of traveling for me is trying all the new foods. The food in Malaysia in particular is awesome as I am sure you well know!

  7. Juno says:

    haha Dave! :)
    Actually I liked Claypot chicken rice in Malaysia. Amazing, most of chicken I had in KK taste like pork!! :) hahaha

  8. Ciki says:

    totally spot on dave! claypot ANYTHING jumps in price and you end up paying a premium on the same dish, with essentially the same quality of ingredients, taste etc. Claypot is touted to “taste” better because of the pot, but nah, we don’t buy it. Me and Jo never eat claypot bakuteh, nor pan mee ! Just go for the regular one at 5 ringgit (and that’s the correct spelling) and it’s just as good;)

    • Yea, I hear you on this one Mei. If you go to the mid east they will say it’s not original either, not unless it’s baked underground. So you can’t really win with authenticity these days. But some of these folks really are taking short cuts! Am I misspelling ringget again?!!

  9. Amazing how that works sometimes. Walk across the street and get the same thing for much cheaper. I love dishes cooked in claypot. Great taste and cool presentation.

  10. Travis says:

    Wow, cheap and delicious?! this makes me want to learn more about malaysian cuisine…

  11. Kristina says:

    Yes, you can’t underestimate how important the visual is when it comes to food.
    For me, I usually try the “authentic” version at least once (plus it makes for better photographs) ;-) But than I would absolutely go for the other versions after that.
    Plus, in reality, the plastic bowl version is just as “authentic” anyway, because that’s probably how the average local eats his lunch there, right?

    • Yep, you got it in one. This is where the locals are eating. To make matters even more amusing, they are eating with a spoon and fork, rather than chopsticks. Can’t beat that type of authentication :)