Update: This branch is permanently closed.
I missed the boat when the boat noodle phenomenon came to town a couple of years ago. I remember the hype surrounding it – two hour-long queues, people posting their bowls, piled sky-high, on Instagram – and being glad that I wasn’t one for food hypes. I’d hate to spend that much time in line when I could be doing something else lol.
Malaysians are a notoriously fickle-minded bunch, and the craze for boat noodles has died down. So when H asked if I’d like to have some when we met up for lunch at KL Gateway Mall, I thought of seeing what all the fuss was about earlier. Yes, I’m aware the hype-ship has sailed (sorry, had to), but hey, better late than never, right?
The restaurant has wooden tables and chairs, yellow bulb lights and Thai inspired decor on the walls, with a noodle station at the back and a glass-window kitchen. The place was empty during our visit, despite it being lunch time. But then again, KL Gateway Mall is kinda dead, despite having opened quite some time ago.
So what are boat noodles? Also known as kuaitiao ruea, the dish dates back to the 1940s, where they were originally served from boats traversing Bangkok’s canals. Because of choppy waters and limited space, merchants made their bowls and the portions small so they could be handed over to customers on land without easily spilling.
At Boat Noodle restaurant, there are two types of ‘soup’ available – Pathumthani (a dark soy sauce broth with a sour taste) and Ayutthaya (a creamy dark broth made with a blend of 10 herbs and spices). You can choose either to be served with rice noodles, egg noodles or springy (instant) noodles, with chicken or beef.
For starters, I had one bowl of each with beef + springy noodles. At RM2 per bowl, the portion was indeed small – just two bites would have done the job. I liked the pathumthani, which tasted like bak kut teh with a strong herbal flavour and hints of a sweet spice like cinnamon. The ayutthaya was okay, but I wish they had done the noodles a bit more al dente, coz by the time they were served it was all mushy and soft.
Each bowl came with one beef/chicken ball.
I added on two more bowls of chicken, but with different noodles: egg and rice. I liked the rice noodles as they were squishy and bouncy. Egg noodles were meh.
For snacks, we had grilled beef balls drenched with sweet Thai chilli sauce. These were done well but the sauce was really spicy.
Aside from noodles, they have other Thai street food dishes like fried rice, somtam, salads and more.
No visit to a Thai establishment can be considered complete without a Cha Yen (Thai iced milk tea). The version here was not too sweet, although nothing beats the original I had in Thailand.
BOAT NOODLE KL GATEWAY MALL
Level 1-19, Jalan Kerinchi,, Kampung Kerinchi, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM (daily)