Guo Qiao Mi Xian

Special thanks to Guo Qiao Mi Xian for extending this food review invitation.

Hill Park Cafe (汕橙饮食中心) is one of numerous eateries in the densely-populated Farlim district. One of the stalls in this hawker center is Yunnan Guo Qiao Mi Xian (早市云南过桥米线). This stall is operated by a couple from Ipoh. Majority of the recipe comes from the wife who hails from China.
Guo Qiao Mi Xian (过桥米线), also known as crossing-the-bridge noodles, is a type of rice noodles from the Yunnan (云南) Province in China, although it is now widespread in other provinces too. Guo Qiao Mi Xian is similar to rice vermicelli (米粉) but is appreciably thicker and does not get bloated significantly when soaked in soup. In fact, it is necessary to soak Guo Qiao Mi Xian in water for several hours before cooking.
The origin of Guo Qiao Mi Xian is a matter of debate. According to one legend set in the Ming-Qing transition period (明末清初), a scholar in Yunnan retreated to a secluded island to study for imperial examinations. Every day, his wife crosses a bridge to bring him noodles and soup. Due to the long distance, the food becomes cold and unpalatable. Therefore, she devised a new method. She kept the noodles separately from soup. The soup is filled in a large pot, then oil is poured on top to insulate the heat. Noodles are added to the soup just before eating.
Usually, Guo Qiao Mi Xian is served with clear soup (清汤). The soup is stewed for more than 8 hours using chicken bones, skipjack tuna (柴鱼) and dried shrimps (虾米). At this stall, the same soup base is used to create significantly different variations. For example, sour & spicy soup (酸辣汤) is prepared by adding sour plum (酸梅) and bird's eye chili (小辣椒) to the clear soup.
One of the bestsellers is Grouper Vermicelli (石斑鱼米线, RM8.00). The default type of noodles is Guo Xiao Mi Xian, but other types of noodles such as misua (面线) and soy bean noodles (豆签) are also available.
Grouper is sourced from fishermen in Lumut. To maintain freshness, the fish is only frozen once after filleting. Wild grouper is favored over farmed ones because the former retains better flavor after cooking. A small amount of Shaoxing wine (绍兴酒) is added to mask the smell of seafood.
Fish paste (鱼滑) can be included for additional cost. The proportion of fish to flour is sufficiently high, therefore the paste is quite delectable especially after it absorbs essence of the soup.
Optionally, Fuzhou fish balls (福州鱼丸) can be added separately. The fish balls contain minced pork at the center.
Besides fish, pork lovers can enjoy Pork Bellies Vermicelli (猪肚米线, RM6.50). Suspended in the clear soup are pieces of minced pork made from pork trotter (猪脚). There are also succulent pieces of pork stomach, much to my delight. Meanwhile, the soup is notably fiery thanks to the use of freshly ground peppercorns. To improve the aroma, garlic (蒜米) and sesame oil (麻油) are also used. This dish is warming to the stomach especially in a cold day!
If heavy meat flavor is your cup of tea, you should try the Chaoshan Stewed Meat (潮汕卤味, RM5.50). The dish includes noodles, but I deliberately requested otherwise. The stewed pork (卤肉) infused with medicinal essences of 30 different types of Chinese herbs, making the meat bursting with flavorful juices within each bite. As the pork has been stewed for a long duration, there is not much fat remaining. The fat-like tissues are mostly collagen.
Guo Qiao Mi Xian is open for breakfast and lunch. In the evening, this stall also operates at Kuta Bali Cafe (峇里城食坊) at Paya Terubong from 5:00pm to 11:00pm. Although the price of raw ingredients has increased over the years, the pricing at this stall remains almost unchanged since it opened 2 years ago. It is not easy for low income group to make a living these days. It is great to see an effort to help stretch the ringgit in times of need.

Name: Yunnan Guo Qiao Mi Xian (早市云南过桥米线)
Address: 36A, Medan Angsana 2, Bandar Baru Air Itam, 11500 Air Itam, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 012-454-8155
Business hours: 8:00am-2:00pm, closed on Fridays
Website: N/A
Coordinates: 5.38843 N, 100.28341 E
Directions: Hill Park Cafe (汕橙饮食中心) is located in Farlim, right at the intersection of Medan Angsana and Medan Angsana 2. This coffee shop opposite of Million Loh Mee (卤面专卖店) and Big Pot Dining (大碗宫美食工作坊). Guo Qiao Mi Xian is one of the stalls inside Hill Park Cafe. Street parking is available along the streets of this commercial square.

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