Sarawak Kolo Mee – Sajo Cafe Penang
Two of my favourites delicacies are none other than Sarawak Kolo Mee and Sarawak Laksa, which I miss back home in Penang.
Some say it’s a sin to visit Kuching without having a bowl of its delicious Sarawak Kolo Mee.
A Sarawakians Chinese favourite, the Kolo Mee, is different from the wanton mee served in Peninsular Malaysia. In Penang, the Hokkien loves everything covered in thick black sweet, soya sauce.
Unique to Sarawak, the Kolo Mee has noodles, minced pork, and vegetables tossed in a clear sauce (read Pork Lard Oil).
I couldn’t agree more.
Noodles and Pork Lard Oil make the best combination of YUM.
My Sarawakians friend Wendy is the most significant source for locating Kolo Mee in the PJ area.
Some of the best I’ve had are at Toast n Road in SS2.
Savoury, springy noodles with a bit of chew to them, Sarawak Kolo Mee is one of those dishes that keeps me coming back bite after bite.
Malaysians in the Peninsula often confuse Kolo Mee with Wantan Mee.
I assure you both are different.
The Kolo Mee’s springy noodle with the minced pork and the red Char Siew makes the best combination served in a bowl.
Some hawkers in the Peninsula try to pass one off as the other – for want of freshly made Kolo Mee noodles.
My first taste of Kolo Mee – Oriental Park
I remember asking Edgar Ong for some recommendations on what to eat in Kuching.
It was quite a comprehensive list. It was the best few hours spent searching the web for a Kolo Mee breakfast in the middle of the night.
But the following day, when I woke up, I decided to head for Sarawak Kolo Mee Oriental Park.
The coffee shop is best known for the fresh, springy noodles and the Char Siew and minced pork’s crunchy texture.
Don’t let the pale noodles fool you. Its’ power-packed with Pork Lard Oil, Minced Pork, and Red Char Siew (Honey BBQ Pork).
Is your mouth watering for this Sarawakians bowl of goodness yet?
After coming home to Penang, I will make this with the dried Kuching Mee Kolo, which I bought home.
Where to Eat Sarawak Kolo Mee In Penang?
I’ve tried two restaurants in Penang that serve Kolo Mee – D’Piazza Mall and Face To Face Noodle House 面对面.
Both these stalls are tasty and local favourites, time to try the noodles at Sajo Cafe.
Sarawak Kolo Mee Sarawak Laksa @ Sajo Cafe
Maybe it’s because the owner is from Miri and not Kuching, Sarawak – this is what the friendly and chatty Lady Boss tells me.
I went with my constant companion, and we took a little time to read from the extensive menu on display.
Nothing beats reading off a vast menu.
Since we appear clueless, Lady Boss recommended the 3 Flavour Kolo Mee.
I ordered Sarawak Laksa, and later we topped up with another order of the Pork Dumplings.
What is Sarawak Kolo Mee?
Kolo Mee is a Sarawak Malaysian Chinese style noodle that is characteristically dry.
In fact, “kolo” comes from the Chinese Cantonese translation “gon lo” or literally “dry mix.”
An excellent Kolo Mee is served dry with just enough sauce to coat the noodles.
Is there a difference between Sarawak Kolo Mee and Wantan Noodles?
Kolo Mee is distinguished from other Asian noodle dish recipes.
The difference between Sarawak Kolo Mee and the famous Wantan Noodles is that Kolo Mee is not drenched in dark soy sauce, and soup is not added to the noodles when served.
Basically Sarawak Kolo Mee is served “dry”.
The fresh noodles are also different.
Fresh homemade Kolo Mee noodles are thin, wiggly, and springy, whereas Wantan Noodles are straight.
If you bite into the Kolo Mee noodles without any sauce, the noodles taste slightly sweet.
Kolo mee noodles are springier than Wantan Noodles, and they come with a generous filling of minced meat.
3 Flavour Kolo Mee
- Original (White) Salty Taste
- Black Sauce (Black) Salty Sweet Taste
- Red Sauce (Red) Sweet Taste
Original Sarawak Kolo Mee
The Original (White) Salty Taste Kolo Mee is filled with Pork Lard’s aroma and fairly seasoned with flavours; completed with Minced Pork, homemade Char Siew (Honey BBQ Pork), and Deep Fried Shallot Oil.
I watched the Lady Boss give the fresh springy and bouncy noodles an even toss.
There was not even a single trace of light Soy Sauce in the Original (White) Salty Taste Kolo Mee.
The Kolo Mee looked like it was tossed in a transparent sauce!
Black Sauce Sarawak Kolo Mee
The Black Sauce (Black) Salty Sweet Taste Kolo Mee has thick black soya sauce.
Red Sauce Sarawak Kolo Mee
However, we both agree their Red Sauce Kolo Mee (Char Siew Sauce) is the most fragrant and tasty.
Red Sauce is made from the reduced Pork Char Siew marination drippings.
I would say their Sarawak Kolo Mee in the original sauce and Char Siew Sauce taste the nicest.
Sarawak Kolo Mee Red Char Siew
Sajo Café’s homemade Red Char Siew is lean and not fatty at all.
Sarawak Kolo Mee Minced Pork Topping
For the Minced Pork Topping, some cooks use a lean mince so that the dish isn’t massive in terms of fat content.
Regular minced pork has a higher fat content for a richer flavour.
The Minced Pork has a simple marinade of fish sauce, light soya sauce, white pepper powder, and some potato flour.
it is the frying in the Pork Lard Oil that makes the Minced Pork Topping so delicious,
Sajo Café’s Minced Pork Topping has a good flavour without being too fatty or oily.
How to eat Sarawak Kolo Mee?
To eat Kolo Mee, you need to eat that with their homemade Vinegared Red Chilies, which has a pleasant acidic taste to cut through the Pork Lard Oil’s richness.
Sarawak Laksa another signature dish of Sarawak.
Sarawak Laksa is a complex dish.
The flavorful chicken or shrimp-based broth seasoned with well over twenty different ingredients.
A trip to Sarawak is never complete without indulging in a bowl of this spicy and flavourful soupy noodle, which to the Penangite looks like Curry Mee.
Well, it is not the usual Penang Curry Mee or Curry Laksa.
The broth has chicken and prawn stock with sambal belacan, tamarind, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, and coconut milk.
The garnishing is
- omelette strips
- chicken strips
- bean sprouts
- fried tofu puffs
- calamansi limes
- coriander leaves
- fresh mint leaves
- cucumber, shredded
- shredded omelette
- cooked prawns
- shredded chicken.
I remember an invitation to eat in a Sarawakian friend’s home when I was working in KL.
We were all very excited as it was a festive style dish.
No one will cook it as there’s so much work involved with toasting the dry ingredients and pounding it by hand!
But it is the Laksa paste that is the most interesting; therein lies the home-cooked version and sold commercially
- red chillies
- big onions
- dried prawns
- dried chillies
- cumin seeds
- coriander seeds
- star anise
- sesame seeds
- curry powder
- chicken and prawn stock
The Sarawak Laksa with Vermicelli Noodles was creamy, rich, and packed with a spicy, peppery heat.
I enjoyed the dish with the addition of the Spicy Sambal and Lime Juice.
The broth has traces of seafood even though the prawns were not the freshest.
I thought it would taste much detectable with more fresh lime to cut the broth’s creamy taste.
Although the Lady Boss encouraged me several times, I could not finish the rich Sarawak Laksa broth.
She asked me if I liked it.
I asked if she makes my favourite dish – the Sarawak Tomato Kueh Tiaw will finish to the last drop.
For some strange reason, the Watan Hor in Tomatoey Gravy is very appealing to me.
I would not mind going back to Kuching just for this again.
Foo Chow Red Wine (Ang Chow) Mee Sua
There was not enough stomach space for this dish.
I remember having it in Sitiawan.
This was one of the food that my friend’s mom made her after childbirth.
I was just lucky to be around to taste it.
Foochow Red Wine Chicken Noodle Soup – Chicken pieces are cooked in Foochow red wine, ginger, red yeast rice, and then served with mee sua noodles.
Foochow red wine is made by fermenting cooked white glutinous rice that has been mixed with Chinese wine yeast and red yeast rice.
The result is a red-looking wine and one of the popular ingredients to use in a confinement diet.
The Ang Chow is an acquired taste, and the taste of the booze is pretty strong.
If you like a sweet, greasy robust boozy broth, this one is for you.
My untrained taste buds never got accustomed to the red wine.
If you are not a fan of the soft and slouchy texture of mee sua, you won’t enjoy this meal.
The light Mee Sua, which I find palatable, is Putien Restaurant’s Easy, One-Wok Heng Hwa Mee Sua with seafood.
Noteworthy Sarawak Noodles on the menu you need to try.
- Sarawak Kolo Mee
- Foo Chow Red Wine Mee Sua
- Sarawak Laksa
- 3 Layers of Tea
- 3 Tasted Coffee
Where is Sajo Cafe @ Air Itam, Penang?
Sajo Cafe is opposite the wet market is located about two doors away from the Police Station.
Review of Sajo Café:
The café is known for its authentic Sarawak delicacies (Miri version), as explained by the hospitable Lady Boss, who started the café selling her favourites dishes.
Sajo Cafe is a place worth dropping by for a quick meal if you are in the vicinity.
Sajo Cafe | Unnamed Road, Bandar Baru Ayer Itam, 11500 Ayer Itam, Penang
Telephone: 016-441 1100
Business Hours: 11 am to 10 pm (Closed on Sunday)
Landmark: 2 shops away from Police Station, Air Itam Wet Market
Parking: Depends on your luck.