Just about the only thing that has changed in the last decade at Mee Kork Orussey is the wait time. Its signature Chinese-style noodle dish attracts diners throughout the morning to this hole-in-wall shop on the corner of a narrow street near Orussey Market. The place is proof that taste, not fancy decor, can be the recipe for success.
Huy Lang, 31, is taking orders at the four tables inside the restaurant, while also keeping an eye on four more outside, while her dad, Oy Krey, does the cooking. Lang has a remarkable attention to detail – remembering the faces, names and every preference of her past customers.
“We have so many regulars that we know all of them very clearly,” Lang says. “I give many of them nicknames, and make them laugh with my jokes and teasing, hoping they will have a great start to the day.”
The restaurant looks almost exactly the same as when it opened 10 years ago after Krey left his job as a chef to start the family business. Customers usually choose the eponymous dish, mee kork, which consists of a bowl of noodles boiled in a beef bone broth.
The flavourful noodles, made from cassava flour, have a satisfying elasticity and soft texture, while the savoury soup brims with flavour from the tender meat and the sweetness of spinach, carrots and onions.
For $2.5, you can get a set of mee kork with beef, pork, beef meatballs, fish meatballs, offal or seafood. A second meat option costs another $0.5, and for $1.25 customers can upgrade to a set with every option.
“When I was introduced to mee kork here by my friends, I fell in love with its taste, and I come here to eat very often,” says patron Leang Dara.
Every ingredient in the dish – like the noodles, the meatballs, broth, and sauce – is homemade. Only fresh ingredients are used, and all five members of the family are often seen rolling unleavened dough in the evening before stretching it into noodles.
“We only serve in the morning, and spend the rest of the day making ingredients,” Lang says. “Through such hard labour, we can get the quality we want and save a lot of money.”
With a line out the door, and cars parked down the block, the family says it would like to move to a bigger space, but they are reluctant to do so.
“If you move to another place, we are afraid that our customers could not find us,” Lang says. “Although our place is small, people support us and we want to show that we care about them.”
Mee Kork Orussey is located at 1E0 on Street 119, near Orussey Market. It is open every day from 6am to 11am. Tel: 012 987 134
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