Mie Ayam at Warung Pojok - Garden Grove
There isn't a time when I don't want noodle soup. Be it ramen, hu tieu, or something with fish balls, I will eat noodle soup anytime, anywhere, anyhow. There's just something about how the hot broth can find its way to patch the cracked parts of my soul.
And the noodles! Ah the noodles! What is it about the chewiness, the way it carries the warmth of the soup to my mouth in a long infinite stream? Maybe because it resembles a lifeline.
Whatever metaphors I may use to describe noodle soup, it is balm; it is a cure-all; it is, for lack of a better term, my comfort food.
Even watching people hunch over their steaming bowls can be therapeutic. The greatest TV food porn I've ever witnessed are the shows where Anthony Bourdain goes to some part of Asia and then sits down to suck down a hot bowl of noodles. But he, along with everyone else in America, has yet to discover what the Indonesians have contributed to the genre. Indonesians have an entire galaxy of noodle soup from mie bakso, to the elaborate mie tite (pronounced tee-tay), which starts out sugary sweet until it's doused with pungent hits of garlic water.
But perhaps the most popular Indonesian noodle soup is mie ayam, which is technically NOT a noodle soup. The soup, you see, is served on the side, in a separate bowl and apart from the noodles. You might say it's a deconstruction, except it predates the Ferran Adrias and Wylie Dufresnes of the world. In other words, this ain't molecular gastronomy. It's as home-kitchen as you can get. The noodles are cooked, then tossed in a bowl with a slick of oil, flurries of salt and pepper, and then topped with a slow-simmered mix of cubed chicken meat and mushrooms. Some boiled greens are added for color and texture.
You eat it "dry", but it isn't; every chewy strand is flavor-packed. You might say it has more in common with spaghetti, but then there's the soup, which is a dialed-back chicken broth with springy meatballs you sip in concert. Some might call it bland, but it's mild for a reason: its purpose is to act merely as lubricant in between the slurps of noodle. Also essential: some chili paste to dab over everything.
Warung Pojok has done this dish well since it started doing business a few years ago, but its maturity has allowed it to make the dish even better than it used to be. The mie ayam is now served an actual bowl, not Styrofoam, and everything seems to now be at a level that can't be improved upon. I don't remember enjoying it as much as when I had it recently. Warung Pojok is no longer the only Indonesian eatery in OC...but it is, to my knowledge, still the only place that does this dish--this wonderful noodle soup dish that's not exactly one.
13113 Harbor Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92843
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