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Momordica charantia is a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown for edible fruit, which is among the most bitter of all fruits. Names for the plant and its fruit include bitter melon, bitter gourd (translated from Chinese: ??), goya from Japanese or Karela/Karella, ampalayá from Tagalog, and cerasee (Caribbean and South America; also spelled cerasse). It is widely grown in India and other parts of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, China, Africa, and the Caribbean.
Bitter melon is often used in Chinese cooking for its bitter flavor, typically in stir-fries (often with pork and douchi), soups, and also as tea. Some times it also appears as ‘Sweet Melon‘ on restaurant menu.
Life isn’t always sweet or fair. We live by the cards we are dealt with. While some of our cards can be downright depressing, we try to make the best of it. We try to survive, it’s the human thing to do. Some of us make it and live to tell the story. Like Madam Li, whose strong lines on her face and hands tells of the harsh life she’s probably led before making her way here from China. While her life now as a noodle seller may still seem hard to many, she looks relieved, at least for today. A group of youngsters just walked up to her stall and ordered about 20 bowls of her Bitter Melon Soup Vermicelli all at once. Consider it a case of bulk sales. They watched as she meticulously prepares the order with a mountainous amount of thinly sliced gourd, pork in many variety and bottles after bottles of rice wine. I for one have no idea how she makes any money by selling these yummy noodles for only RM4.50 a bowl. Definitely recommend this to anyone who loves their Rice Wine Chicken Noodles.
If this hot bowl of soup is an analogy of her life, then it is one filled with enough substance and meat, laced with many slices of bitterness; but given an impression of sweetness by drowning in a heavy dose of alcohol; and then feeling dizzy and shortchanged there after.
On the other side of the table, someone else was having better luck. Judging from the slight twinkle in his eyes and that sly smirk of his, he must be holding a set of cards he is happy with. After all, why wouldn’t he be? Mashimaro looks relieved to say the least for it was his final day at work. Leaving his frustrations and unhappiness behind. He has finally gotten around to take destiny into his own hands and tendered his resignation to a life he doesn’t want. That’s pretty admirable considering that he doesn’t have a back up plan (yet!). But he looks the least worried. He knows he will survive. And for now, he is surrounded by the well wishes of 20 youngsters in a coffee shop with an impressive repertoire of brandy, whiskey and rice wine on its back cabinet. And at the end of the meal, he raised his blue bowl, shouted “Cheers!” and drank up every last bit of wine. Life cannot get any sweeter than this, for now.
Madam Li’s Bitter Gourd Noodles
Restaurant & Pub Sin Hoy Kee
Cnr. Jalan PJU 1/6 and Jalan PJU 1/1, Kampung Chempaka,
Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Route #1: From Tropicana turn in from Jalan Bukit Mayang Mas into Jalan PJU 1/45 (at Kayu Nasi Kandar junction). Follow the road and turn right at Jalan PJU1/3a junction. Go straight towards a T-junction and turn left. Drive straight until the end. Turn right onto Jalan PJU 1/6. Sin Hoy Kee is on your left.
Route #2: Drive into Kampung Cempaka (just off the LDP – take the Restoran Loong Foong turnoff that leads towards Tropicana), take a right at the “roundabout”, turn left and find the first row of shop houses on the left. It’s at the end of the row.