It has been more than six months since I visited Warung Chili, or Warung ‘Mie Pedas’ (hot spicy noodles) located in Taman Griya, Jimbaran, Bali. The Chinese Indonesian owner wasn’t pregnant the last time I was here, and here she is with a big bump.
“Hey, what happened to your belly?” I ask her. I don’t remember her name.
“I just swallowed a whole watermelon,” she says with a big smile. “Where have you been? I didn’t know you were still alive!”
The small warung has a wide selection of noodles, udon (Japanese big noodles), and rice. Their rice dishes are not very special, but their noodles are another story. Even the cheapest noodle dish, ‘Mie Ayam’ or noodles with seasoned minced chicken in chicken broth, IDR 13,000, tastes clean and just right. I order their signature ‘Mie Pedas’, as usual. Here, you can choose from seafood, chicken, or both to go with your bowl of superhot noodles. There is some sourness in the delicious red hot soup; my guess is they mix it with kimchi paste. It’s so hot my lips swell just after a few spoons. My eyes get teary and my nose running. Maybe because I have not eaten such spiciness for quite a while, I give up after eating 2/3 of it.
“Your noodles are so mean!” I say to the pregnant lady. She laughs victoriously.
“That was nothing, really. Only Level One!” she says. By ‘Level’, she means level of spiciness of the hot spicy noodles. She says that the level can go all the way to Ten.
“You must be kidding me!”
A guest who has been listening to our conversation and has just finished her bowl of regular noodles is interested in trying hot spicy noodles. She orders one.
“You shouldn’t,” the Lady Owner says. Eh??? Why not? This is what I love about this place. The owner doesn’t just sell her stuff for money. She doesn’t only think about number. Most importantly, she is a culinary master, specifically in the area of noodles. She has been to Korea and Japan to study noodles, and has had years of experience with trials and errors in experimenting with different types of noodles and customizing them to her Indonesian customers’ taste. Not only does she know how to make a delectable bowl of noodles, she also knows very well how to enjoy it best.
“If you order another bowl of noodles after you finish your first, the second one won’t taste as good as it should be. This is because you have lost a certain degree of appetite after your first bowl. It’s better to order double bowls at the same time, trust me!” and thus the master goes.
“And if it is your first time trying ‘Mie Pedas’, NEVER go beyond Level One, otherwise it will be a traumatic experience.” She reports that the majority of her customers who did not listen to her advice never came back for ‘Mie Pedas’ ever again.
‘Mie Pedas’ at Warung Chili always looks intimidating, I can verify that. Actually eating it is another challenge. Then, the aftermath is a warm sensation in your stomach that will stay overnight, and in the morning you will crave for more. Man, I am traumatized or what!