Char kuey teow ('fried rice cake strips' in Penang Hokkien) is a Chinese fried noodle dish popular in Singapore and Malaysia. Its main ingredient is flat rice noodles known as kuey teow, which is stir-fried with soy sauce, chillies, belachan (Malay shrimp paste), prawns, blood cockles, bean sprouts, Chinese chives and other ingredients.
When it was first introduced, char kuey teow quickly became popular amongst labourers, as it was cheap and its high fat content made the dish a cheap source of energy. At the time, char kuey teow was typically sold by fishermen who doubled up as char kuey teow hawkers at night, using their daily catch to supplement their income.
Although char kuey teow is ubiquitous all over Singapore and Malaysia, the Penang variant, with its unique wok hei (fresh from a frying wok) flavour, is the most revered version and is even served in restaurants abroad. Needless to say, the best Penang char kuey teow can be found on Penang Island, with several hawker stalls in George Town claiming to serve the best Penang char kuey teow.
What sets Penang char kuey teow apart from other variants is the absence of sweet sauce. As a result, Penang char kuey teow gives off a more wok hei flavour, compared to the sweeter Singaporean version.
In addition, Penang char kuey teow is normally fried with pork lard and may come with crunchy croutons of pork lard. Penang char kuey teow is also notable for the fresh seafood used, which are added into the wok at specific timings to ensure a fresher taste.
- Flat rice noodles (kuey teow)
- Soy sauce
- Oyster sauce
- Fish sauce
- Chilli paste
- De-shelled blood cockles
- Bean sprouts
- Chinese chives
- Chinese sausages
- Fried pork lard croutons (bak yew phok in Chinese Hokkien dialect)
Char kuey teow is served in almost all hawker centres, kopitiams ('coffee shops' in Chinese Hokkien dialect) and pasar malams ('night markets' in Malay) throughout Penang. The following are among the more recommended char kuey teow hawker stalls that reputedly serves the best Penang char kuey teow.
- Siam Road, George Town
- Opening Hours : 1500 hours - 2000 hours
- Low Eng Hoo Coffee Shop, Lorong Selamat, George Town
- Opening Hours : 1300 hours - 1800 hours (closed on Tuesdays)
- Sin Guat Keong Coffee Shop, Kimberley Street, George Town
- Opening Hours : 1800 hours - 2300 hours
- Ah Leng char kuey teow, Khoon Hiang Coffee Shop, Dato' Keramat Road, George Town
- Opening Hours : 0900 hours - 1500 hours
- Tiger char kuey teow, Ping Hooi Cafe, Carnavon Street, George Town
- Opening Hours : 0800 hours - 1400 hours
- Padang Brown Hawker Centre, Johore Road, George Town
- Opening Hours : 1800 hours - 2230 hours
- New World Park, Swatow Lane, George Town
- Opening Hours : 1200 hours - 1900 hours (closed on Wednesdays)
- Sin Wah Coffee Shop, Burmah Road, Pulau Tikus, George Town
- Opening Hours : 1100 hours - 1600 hours
- Ah Leng char kuey teow, Lorong Zoo 6, Air Itam, George Town
- Opening Hours : 1800 hours - 2100 hours
- Sany char kuey teow (halal), Jalan Mahsuri, Bayan Baru
- Opening Hours : 1800 hours - 0200 hours