Maggi Mee, a much loved staple of the Malaysian pantry (also Indomie, MyKuali, et cetera), is both comforting and cost-effective, but there's only so much one can eat during a month-long cordon sanitaire.Rita Paraíso of Table & Apron and Johnson Wong of Gen Penang demonstrate how to take the instant noodles up a notch, and at not much added cost

Rita Paraíso, Chef-In-Residence at Table & Apron

Moving through the world like a migratory bird, Rita Paraíso has only in Malaysia since August 2019, and joined the Table & Apron family in January 2020. "Mine is mostly a research and development role for both the restaurant and the bakery," explains Paraíso, who was born and raised in Portugal. "I’m also in charge of any special projects, like pop ups and charity events. I’ll be here for at least another year and a half." 

So far, Paraíso has been responsible for cooking up some dishes on the daily specials board and has concocted a couple of new items for the bakery. "Have you tried the whey caramel cookies? I’m trying to focus on using up byproducts from the production of our regular menu items," explains the eco-conscious chef, whose resume is peppered with positions at restaurants in London.

Food aside, Paraíso derives joy from embroidery, cats and rock climbing, the last of which she hasn't enjoyed since the Covid-19 movement restrictions. "I’ve only been home for about a week so I haven’t lost my mind yet, though I’m finding it a bit hard to stop baking," she says. "I do think we’ll run out of ideas on what to cook soon, but we’ll survive! Noodles were not a big part of my childhood as they didn’t become a thing in Portugal until 2009 or 2010, but I did eat them a lot at university."

Rita's Mushroom, Tarragon & Egg Yolk Noodles

Serves 1


1 packet Maggi or other instant noodles
1 tbsp vegetable oil
100g mixed mushrooms, sliced
25g salted butter
1 tsp garlic, chopped
1/2 tbsp tarragon leaves, chopped
1 egg yolk
Shichimi togarashi
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon juice


  1. On a frying pan or wok heat up the vegetable oil. Add the sliced mushrooms and season with salt. Cook until you start to see some of the juices coming out. Add the garlic and lower the heat.
  2. Meanwhile cook your noodles according to the packet instructions but with no seasoning.
  3. Once the garlic is cooked and the mushrooms start to brown, turn the heat up again, add the butter and let it melt completely.
  4. Add the noodles and a few tablespoons of the water you cooked them in.* Let it boil again and add the chopped tarragon. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.
  5. Plate the noodles, make a small hole in the middle and add the egg yolk.
  6. Sprinkle some togarashi on top and some lemon juice for a little acidity. Mix it all together and dig in!

CHEF'S TIP: Adding some water from the boiled noodles to your dish gives it a creamier mouthfeel.

Johnson Wong, Head Chef of Gen Penang

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Above Johnson Wong. Photo: Gen Penang

Johnson Wong, whose restaurant Gen Penang has carved out a new dining niche in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Georgetown, is driven by storytelling. Hence Gen's tasting menus informed by "My Malaysian stories" aka Johnson's interpretation of local ingredients and flavours.

"This is the collapse of the industry," laments Wong when we ask him how he's holding up in light of Covid-19. "We need to give our staff a means for survival, but not every F&B establishment is translatable to delivery mode."

When given a choice, Wong will always pick Maggi Kari over the other flavours. "I would choose to have a real bowl of assam laksa to curb my cravings," says the proud Penangite when we ask him how he feels about Maggi Asam Laksa. "Real assam laksa is hard to duplicate."

Johnson's Maggi Goreng

Serve 4


320g Maggi or other instant noodles
4 eggs
4 pieces chicken thigh
10g onions
4g garlic
10g oyster sauce
8g Maggi seasoning


4 calamansi
20g fried anchovies
20g fried peanuts
8g sambal
8g galangal chili seasoning

  1. Put the noodles into the boiling water for about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Stir-fry the onion and garlic. Add to the boiled noodles.
  3. Put in all the seasonings and toss well with the noodles.
  4. Pan-fry the egg and deep-fry the chicken thigh after coating with a simple batter.
  5. Make the galangal chili seasoning: Blend the dried chilis, galangal, garlic and salt. Toss them in a pan over a slow fire.
  6. Arrange the noodles, egg and fried chicken on a bowl. Add the rest of condiments, and there you go!
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Above Photo: Johnson Wong
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