Monday, May 04, 2009

Gastronomic tour of Penang: Where's the best Char Koay Teow?

Char Koay Teow at Joo Hooi Cafe, Lebuh Keng Kwee

For a trip that involves calories, I consulted a friend who grew up in Penang to point us to places that guarantee 'good calories' before we left (read 'VERY GOOD food'). The first item on her list is the Joo Hooi Cafe at Lebuh Keng Kwee, which is very well known for its Chendol stall outside the coffee shop. (Lebuh is "Street" in Malay.)

Serving up the "best [Chendol] in the world"

There are two stalls selling Chendol there, but the real McCoy^--or as my friend said "best in the world"--is the one that's right outside the coffee shop with the picture of Puah Chu Kang and Rosie on its signboard. (Yes, Singapore's very own Ah Beng contractor was there.)

But I digress. She recommended the Assam Laksa at Joo Hooi and "not bad Char Koay Teow". The Char Koay Teow (that's how it's spelt in Penang) there costs RM4 (S$1.70) and tasted ok, but Terence felt it lacked 'omph''. So he wanted to walk to Jalan Selamat to try a stall that is suppose to be the most famous in Penang.

Now, the portions served by hawkers in Penang are really quite small. So with our stomach half-full and armed with Google Maps on Terence's mobile phone, we made it to Kafe Heng Huat^.

IMHO, Penang's best Char Koay Teow is from Kafe Heng Huat, Jalan Selamat

POWER. The Char Koay Teow is spicy, smoky, flavorful, and there is real skilled involved as the lady cooked it over a charcoal stove. They, however, charge a 'premium' at RM6.50 per plate. This is considered expensive in Malaysia but it works out to about S$2.80, which is reasonable in Singapore's standards.

We were really lucky to have the opportunity to tuck in the famous noodles, as they started packing up after they served us. Terence read that usually the waiting time can take as long as one hour. We were the only customers when we went. :)

Note: The Penang food blogs that we visited generally don't tell readers the opening hours of the stalls. Joo Hooi was also closing for the day when we visited. So I guess both shops wrap up around 5pm.

1 comment:

Cory said...

what about the best penang laksa? :)


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