If there’s a culinary haunt that seems like an endless journey, it’s Glodok’s Chinatown compound. Grown within the enclave, decades-old eateries run by generations of Chinese-descent families dress the characteristically-narrow streets and alleys, and have proven their charm time after time: there’s a laksa restaurant deep inside Kalimati alley with a 40-year-old history, a popular potato doughnut shop run by an elderly couple inside Gedung Chandra, or the two-decades-old noodle stall of Bakmie Anton tucked inside a residential alley of Kemenangan street.
Like many in Glodok, Bakmie Anton’s fame is decidedly word-of-mouth. But unlike some eateries placed in the thick of the market, the blue cart noodle stall is well-hidden in the back street just as one passes through the alley of Fat Cu Kong Bio temple. Started its operation in the early 2000s, Ong Ang Tan, affectionately known as Anton, first learned to make noodles from his parents who also ran a noodle stall on the same street.
Savoury with a tinge of sweetness, Anton concocts the broth based on the hand-down recipe, with a choice of pork or sesame that mixes well with the different types of noodle offered, from curly, beehun, kwetiau and locupan, the latter of which resembles udon in texture. As Anton ladles the searing broth into a separate bowl, he tops the cooked noodle with shredded chicken and pork, complete with a filling portion of suikiaws and fish balls.
It’s evident there’s a comfortable affection for Bakmie Anton amongst nearby residents, which is central to the way Anton warmly interacts with people. The 60-year-old, who runs the noodle stall from 3 PM until sold out, can memorise each order without even a scribble on a notepad, and by extension, the orders of aunties and uncles who regularly pay a visit for a bowl before sundown, revealing much about the sense of place that his noodle stall has built within the quiet neighbourhood.
This atmosphere is also infectious to new customers who make a visit to Bakmie Anton in their hunt for Glodok’s culinary spots. Anton would engage in a conversation with a curious customer who has travelled from far, a regular from the area would casually strike up a chat while waiting for the order, and a neighbour you encounter in the alley would bid you goodbye as you leave the place, making one feel warmly welcomed in their neighbourhood.
By the time you finish with the last slurp, it’d be close to sunset and at least one type of noodle in Anton’s batch would already be sold out, showing its popularity once more. Bakmie Anton may feel ‘simple’ when compared to the vibrant food galore that the area offers, but its satisfying noodles, hideaway location and the affection it holds within the community, are good enough reasons to be added to one’s Glodok culinary list.