Char Koay Teow
Char koay teow – my favorite Hawker food
Coming from Penang myself I have ridiculously high standards when it comes to Char Koay Teow. But it also means I might be biased when judging Char Koay Teow from other states. In the Southern parts of Malaysia like Melaka, Johor and Singapore, Char Koay Teow is fried to appear dark but the overall concept remains the same since both ‘wok hei’ and lard are important aspects of a good plate of CKT. I feel that comparing the northern and southern CKT is like comparing nasi goreng cina with nasi goreng kampung – they are similar but not the same.
In Muar, Char Koay Teow is usually fried together with yellow noodle and is given a nice twist where the locally beloved otak-otak could be added (RM1 for 2 pieces) as additional topping. Frankly speaking this is more of a gimmick than adding any real taste into the dish. Since it is only RM1, I figured why not? Click here to continue reading >
It is quite rare to find decent Penang Island style Char Koay Teow in Bukit Mertajam. If you are wondering what is the Penang Island style, there are two main characteristics that define it – fiery red and topped with large prawns. In my humble hometown, CKT is usually fried with more dark soya sauce and normal sized seafood, hence darker in color and cheaper in price too.
Last weekend I spotted a stall that bears an interesting sign “Penang Auntie (Big Prawn) Char Koay Teow” It got me curious and I returned the next morning to give it a try. Besides chicken egg, you could opt for the duck egg version if you want for an extra 50 cents. If you ask me, that little extra is kind of justified since duck egg is larger in size and imparts additional fragrance to the dish as well.
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Just when I thought Char Koay Teow in Penang wouldn’t get more expensive, I stumbled upon one that sells a ‘keh liao‘ (added ingredients) version that has a price tag of RM12 while the normal version is RM5.50. FYI, the most expensive Char Koay Teow I ever had prior to this was at Ah Leng that cost RM10. And coincidentally, this stall at Bee Hooi Coffee Garden along Kimberley Street is where Ah Leng used to operate before he moved to his current location.
Even though I knew the noodles would have a tough time competing with the caliber of Siam Road‘s, the curiosity got the better of me. I simply had to see for myself how this could top Ah Leng’s. So after I placed my order and sat down, I paid close attention to the cooking.
And just as I had predicted, the extra cost goes into having much bigger prawns and having an extra ingredient – mantis shrimps. There weren’t any cockles, which is weird so my only guess is that it was hard to get any supply during CNY.
I could still remember my first time having the Char Koay Teow at Kedai Kopi Sin Hwa opposite the Pulau Tikus police station. It was particularly memorable due to the non-existant parking space (near to market) and the coffee shop was unusually stuffy with little ventilation. And of course, the Char Koay Teow is kind of special too, as it comes with squids and you have the option of ‘upgrading’ it to a duck egg version for extra 50 cents.
Instead of relying on the seafood sweetness achieved by using huge prawns, Sin Hwa’s Char Koay Teow is red hot, which focuses more on wok hei and spiciness – the oomph factor. And not to mention cheaper too compared to those selling at a crazy price of RM7-RM10 per plate.