What makes a good plate of char kway teow

What makes a good plate of char kway teow
Enjoy a plate of char kway teow with wok hei and flavour here. — Pictures by Lee Khang Yi

SHAH ALAM, Sept 16 — Ah, char kway teow, one of my all-time favourites.

Of late, it’s been hard to score a decent plate of char kway teow worthy of the calories. Some are bland and tasteless while others lack the requisite smoky flavour or wok hei. Since char kway teow uses only a few ingredients, a good plate of the fried noodles is the true test of a hawker’s frying skills.

Tired of eating yet another dismal plate, the only solution was to drive down to Jalan Gelugor, Klang for my all-time favourite char kway teow.

Previously located at Jalan Batai, Damansara Heights, this stall run by Eng Lee Ling had relocated to Klang back in 2015. It’s found a devoted following from the Klang residents for its Penang style versus the darker versions fried up by the Klang stalls.

You’ll notice that he holds the spatula very close to the handle when he fries.
You’ll notice that he holds the spatula very close to the handle when he fries.

As always, it did not disappoint. What was more interesting was I discovered from this impromptu visit that the original proprietor and Lee Ling’s father, Eng Kim Soong, 71, is also back behind the wok.

He has been lured out of retirement. Bored with travelling, he missed the hawker life which he had been living since 1972.

Unlike other stalls who add lard, the elder Eng had chosen to go the pork-free path. This is the same for his daughter’s stall.

He explained that it was due to his clientele in Damansara Heights. Till today, he maintains a faithful following of Malay customers who’ll ask him to fry the noodles for them for events. Some even make a beeline to his stall in Taman Sri Muda. The location is purely to suit his convenience as it’s near his home.

Opt for duck egg with your char kway teow for a richer taste (left). Eng Kim Soong has been frying char kway teow since 1972 (right).
Opt for duck egg with your char kway teow for a richer taste (left). Eng Kim Soong has been frying char kway teow since 1972 (right).

What you’ll notice is there’s flavour in his char kway teow. Truly an old hand at this, Eng explains that it’s how you combine the ingredients to come up with a plate of deliciousness.

The kway teow strands are also thinner compared the thicker versions. If you’re not careful when frying, the noodles may end up cut and mashed up. Again, it’s a test of skills.

The soy sauce is also important. Despite the price increase of ingredients, Eng has maintained his steadfastness to the same brand of soy sauce. It’s not any ordinary soy sauce, though.

With a twinkle in his eye, he explained that he adds a dash of sugar and fish sauce to balance out the saltiness and sweetness. There is also a little dark soy sauce in that magic combination.

The stall is located at this corner coffeeshop in Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam.
The stall is located at this corner coffeeshop in Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam.

Once that sauce hits the hot wok, it’ll caramelise and give you that much needed flavour. That is his secret in amping up the flavour since he cannot resort to using lard fritters, like others.

If you have time, observe how he fries up his noodles… with his hand close to the end of the spatula. The man truly has asbestos hands to be able to withstand the heat!

Maybe that’s the secret?

Char Kway Teow Stall
Sen Kee White Coffee Restaurant
No. 33G, Jalan Mewah 25/63
Taman Sri Muda
Shah Alam
Tel: 012-9104885
Open: 7am to 2pm
Closed alternate Tuesdays.

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