Cover The “Sss aah, Sss aah” dish is named for the sounds one makes while eating these noodles (Photo: Fifty Tales)

Why did tastemaker Aaron Phua go from pulling shots for coffee connoisseurs to beating egg noodles in his noodle bar, Fifty Tales?

You would think that after dedicating five years to becoming Malaysia Barista Champion and finally wearing the Malaysian jersey at the World Barista Championship, one would fully dedicate their life to coffee. Well, think again, because in one year, Aaron Phua went from pulling shots for coffee connoisseurs to beating egg noodles in his noodle bar, Fifty Tales

Phua’s coffee journey can very well be described as all-encompassing, as he jumped from being barista to coffee trainer, opening up Café Thirty-Seconds with his family along the way. The climax was when Phua came out on top in the Malaysia Barista Championship 2019, astounding judges with his coffee that exhibited floral and tea-like aromas and hints of sweet nectarine.

See also: 8 Ways To Brew Great Coffee At Home

After a successful career in coffee, one might ask: Why noodles? Phua shares the method to his madness with us over a bowl of his signature noodles, the OG.

"I’ve always wanted to cook for others," says Phua. "To share with others what I enjoyed when I was growing up. Noodles were a big part of my childhood."

Phua’s success in coffee pushed him to fulfil his lifelong dream of becoming a chef, and the ideas for Fifty Tales started to fall into place.

No rich santan-laden broths, no endless list of noodles to choose from. Here, you’ll only find the perfected house noodles served in more than a dozen different ways and the occasional bowl of rice for those who aren’t willing to give up that staple. Imagine the chewiness of wonton noodles sans the alkaline, plus the mouthfeel of spaghettoni, spaghetti's thicker counterpart. Expect clean flavours with distinct southern Chinese influences. Each bowl of noodles has its own story, that Phua will gladly share with the story-loving curious.

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Our noodle journey starts with the OG. A lot of work went into making this simple bowl taste so satisfying. With every bite, the slivers of spring onion add crisp and spice that cut through the flavourful lard-tossed noodles. The chunk of beer-braised pork belly and rice wine-marinated egg go perfectly with the minimalist noodles—it's no wonder this is a crowd-favourite. 

The second bowl of noodles we try, the "Sss aah, Sss aah", is named for the sounds one makes while eating this particular bowl of noodles. The dish was recently added to satisfy the locals' cravings for spice. Instead of lard, the strands are tossed in a spicy bean paste, giving it a funky umami profile. Add crispy crackling pork lard (we would gladly down a whole bowl of that) and bouncy meatballs to the picture, and you've got a bowl to behold.

Next up is the glimmering Emerald Dragon with a bright green reflection much like the precious stone. This salut to Lei Cha, a popular Hakka delicacy, is made with a spring onion sauce instead of the typical of pounded tea leaves and herbs, and topped with ham choy (pickled mustard greens).

While noodles may not be for everyone, the new "Dinner Tales" menu might have something to satisfying every craving. The limited weekend dinner menu is made up of dishes that pay homage to a classic Chinese delicacy. Take for instance, the starter: fried duck is served with orange bean paste sauce and homemade crackers; it's Peking Duck but with a tangy, spicy twist.

One of the mains, the fried tofu, boasts a savoury sauce that's similar to the well-loved rojak sauce.

Saving the best for last, the Pei Pa Kao ice cream is served at the end of the meal to cleanse the palate, as well as the throat and nose.

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At the end of the noodle degustation, we ask curiously, "What's the story behind the name Fifty Tales?"

Phua proceeds to tell us that his first batch of noodles counted exactly fifty strands and the word tales comes from the experience he wishes to provide to every customer who comes in: "I want people to come in, enjoy a bowl of familiar-tasting noodles, reminisce about the past and share their tales with others."

Fifty Tales | 5-G, Jalan Margosa SD 10/4a, Bandar Sri Damansara, 52200 Petaling Jaya | +6012-399 2697 | hundredbowls@gmail.com | Open daily except Wednesdays, 10am - 10pm | 

 

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