For the crispiest and tastiest You Tiao (You Char Koay 油炸鬼) it has got to be the nameless shop at 76, Cintra Street (日本街）. This golden brown fried bread stick is also known as Chinese crullers or cakoi to the Malay community. You Tiao is such a versatile snack that it can be eaten on its own, stuffed with various fillings, dipped into coffee or porridge and perhaps most importantly – eaten along with Bak Kut Teh. Simply delicious!
This shop is one of the oldest in town and it is currently run by Madam Chew (left) who mastered the trade from her father. If her father’s days were taken into account, this You Tiao has a staggering 80 years of history already. In the early years, they were operating using a push cart stall at People’s Park opposite Cintra Street. It was only until 17 years ago they moved into a proper shop to continue the business.
Their You Tiao is also popular for being longer and thicker than usual, which is value for money at RM1 each.
To ensure the crispness and the perfect flavor of the You Tiao, the ingredients used must be fresh and of top quality. Oil and heat control are also very important because ultimately that is where the shaped doughs will be cooked in.
Those aside, human factor is also a key because the person handling the wok has to be patient enough to continuously flip the You Tiao to ensure they are evenly fried.
When the You Tiao is done, a small hole is poked at the bottom end to let any excess oil drip off while they are being rested in the basket. Hence the You Tiao here tastes less oily and can be even kept overnight for breakfast the next day.
Although restaurants especially those selling Bak Kut Teh and porridge make up most of their sales, you can still walk in and buy as many You Tiao as you want at RM1 each. If bought and eaten on the spot, you get to experience the You Tiao at its freshest and most crunchy stage, which to me was just simply the best I ever had.
Cintra Street You Tiao
76, Cintra Street, Penang
GPS Coordinates: N5 25.039 E100 19.992
Business hours: 12pm to 7pm daily