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5 must-visit char kway teow stalls in Penang

November 24, 2017

Literally meaning 'fried rice cake strips', the dish has gained popularity for being low in cost but high in nutrients thanks to the prawns and cockles in it.

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By Vimal Palasekaran

PETALING JAYA: Every state in Malaysia has its own culinary offering that its citizens are proud of – Johor has its laksa, Melaka its asam pedas and Sarawak its kolo mee.

Well, in Penang, it’s char kway teow.

Originating from the island of Penang, char kway teow was created by the Hokkien seafarers and farmers who served it as a cheap source of food for local labourers.

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Literally meaning “fried rice cake strips”, the dish quickly gained popularity for being low in cost but high in nutrients, due to the prawns, cockles and other types of meat thrown into the dish.

The secret to a delicious char kway teow however lies in the wok used to cook it. That is why most highly-recommended char kway teow stalls in Penang or anywhere in the country for that matter, are usually family-run with either the younger generation taking over the business or the original cook still running the show.

Here we’ve listed five char kway teow stalls that you must visit the next time you’re in Penang island.

Ping Hooi Cafe

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This café is home to the famous Tiger Char Koay Teow, made by the head “tiger” aka Mr Yeow. The stall has been operated by three generations of the Yeow family spanning over half a century and is so well known in the area that the Char Koay Teow is more famous than the café itself.

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Opt for the red version of the dish if you prefer it spicy and expect a plate full of juicy prawns and bamboo clams. The staff are easily recognisable with their uniform – t-shirts that say Tiger Char Koay Teow.

Ping Hooi Cafe (Tiger Char Kuey Teow)
179, Lebuh Carnarvon,
George Town, 10450 George Town,
Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Perak Road Market

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If you want to have a taste of the old way of cooking char kway teow, head to the stall at Perak Road Market. The senior couple manning the wok cook the dish with charcoal which infuses the koay teow with its own flavour – something that puts them apart from their competitors.

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Operating al-fresco, the cook certainly gives a unique ‘wok hei’ to his offering that keeps the customers coming back for more. No juicy prawns here, but expect delicious lap cheong instead.

Perak Road Market Char Koay Teow Stall
Jalan Pasar, Taman Desa Green,
11600 George Town, Penang,
Malaysia

Joo Hooi Cafe

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Located along one of the busiest roads on the island – Penang Road – the café boasts a variety of hawker food under its roof, the most prominent being char kway teow.

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Celebrities love the char kway teow here as well, evident from the photographs and newspaper cut-outs plastered on the stall’s glass. Complement your meal with other favourites such as fried oyster, chee cheong fun and of course the Penang Famous Teochew Chendul.

Joo Hooi Cafe
475, Jalan Penang, George Town,
10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang,
Malaysia

Kheng Pin Cafe

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Another popular eatery along Penang Road, Kheng Pin’s Char Koay Teow is notorious for its spiciness. Of course, you could request for a less spicy version, but that would be nothing like the char kway teow people drive from far and wide for. Stand by her stall if you order your meal to go and the cook will chat you up to ease the wait as it can sometimes be rather long, particularly during peak hours. Other must-tries at the cafe include the lor bak and prawn noodle.

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Kheng Pin Cafe
20, 16, Jalan Penang, George Town,
10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang,
Malaysia

Kafeteria Dan Hotel Eng Loh

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For a piece of Penang’s colonial past, Kafeteria Dan Hotel Eng Loh is the place to be. Situated in the former banking district of George Town and now surrounded by various museums and other colonial-era edifices, the café has proven to be an ideal spot to stop for lunch after a morning of sight-seeing. Again, be sure to tell the cook beforehand if you don’t want your char kway teow too spicy!

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Kafeteria Dan Hotel Eng Loh
48, Lebuh Gereja, George Town,
10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang,
Malaysia

Although we tried to showcase the best of the best char kway teow in town, this list is not exhaustive as other stalls unmentioned here have their own following and specialities.

Do visit Penang and explore the state for yourself and you might just find your very own char kway teow stall!

This article first appeared in uppre.com


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