Char Koay Teow is no doubt the most iconic food in Penang. For tourists, if you left Penang without tasting a plate of this popular fried flat rice noodles then your trip is definitely in vain. Because of its immense popularity some hawkers had to have something special in order to stand out from the stiff competition and win more customers.
Nowadays having the option to top up extra ‘liao’ (ingredients, usually prawns) in your Char Koay Teow to make a premium plate is no longer a new thing. Cheaper ‘premium’ ones cost at least RM5 and the most expensive one I had so far is RM10 at Ah Leng.
We have seen before Char Koay Teow topped with humongous prawns and mantis prawns. But what about bamboo clams? Now that’s a first for me. Introducing Tiger Char Koay Teow 老虎炒粿条 at Ping Hooi coffee shop along Carnavon Street, which has seen operated by the Yeow family for three generations over half a century.
Tiger premium Char Koay Teow here @ RM6 is a healthy portion that consists of extra prawns, bamboo clams and fried using duck egg – something common in the mainland Penang but quite rare in the island.
The current chef of Tiger Char Koay Teow is the grandson of the first generation who officially took over from his father a decade ago. But his experience in frying Char Koay Teow is an impressive 30 years and counting. Penang’s famous philanthropist Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew was a weekly customer at Tiger Char Koay Teow when he was still alive, which contributed to their popularity considerably.
During the day Mr.Yeow fries his Char Koay Teow at Ping Hooi coffee shop from 8am to 2.30pm. He decided to use bamboo clams as part of his experiment to make his Char Koay Teow more interesting. And in the future he plans to include oysters as well.
Besides earning extra income, he also intends to further hone his skills. So a branch was opened at Mcallum Street’s night market recently. But do note that duck eggs are only used at Ping Hooi coffee shop.
For me, Tiger Char Koay Teow is good enough to be recommended. Although the prawns given for the RM6 portion is a lot, they are not as awesome as Ah Leng’s or Lorong Selamat‘s in terms of the firmness, crunchiness and sweetness. I believe that the chefs of the latter two Char Koay Teow actually specially treated their prawns by soaking them in icy cold sugar water to attain that kind of texture and flavor.
As for the inclusion of bamboo clams, which made me felt skeptical at first due to its water retaining, sandy and gritty characteristics – the feeling was cleared after tasting them. They weren’t moist as expected, had a nice chewy texture and managed to taste good on itself without the strong fishy taste. Lard is used as well to enhance the overall fragrance of the dish.
The amount of prawns used for a day’s business, which Mr.Yeow insists on hand-peeling them personally.
XL sized bamboo clams, even longer than an adult’s finger used for its meatiness. All of them have been properly cleaned and assured of being sand free before going into the wok.
Ping Hooi Coffee Shop (槟园茶室)
GPS Coordinates: N5 24.873 E100 20.046