[Penang] Kimberley Street "Char Koay Teow"

One of Penang’s best-known hawker dish is the “char koay teow” - fried flat rice noodles, a dish of Teochew (Chaozhou/潮州) origin, but which underwent a localisation process in Penang which rendered it better than the native version in the Teochew homeland back in China.

The Teochews has been emigrating to South-East Asia for centuries. In Penang, the Teochews came en masse during the British colonial period in the 19-th-century. Homesick Teochews concocted the Penang-style “char koay teow” which incorporated *everything" they missed about their homeland: the flat rice noodles (“koay teow”), cockles, shrimps, chives (“kuchai”), beansprouts, eggs, into one fried dish (in China, the Teochew fried “koay teow” is a more simple, rustic dish and usually consists of only fried flat rice noodles with pork and vegetables, flavoured with fish sauce and soysauce).

Penang-style “char koay teow” is renowned all over the region. In Penang, there is a handful of famous “char koay teow” vendors - each with their own legion of fans. Among the top half dozen char koay teow" spots is the Kimberley Street “char koay teow” stall.

2nd-generation “char koay teow” chef, Mr Lien Yi Siang, operates his stall in front of Sin Guat Keong coffee shop on Kimberley Street. The stall, started by his father, is now 54 years old and still offers one of the best “char koay teow” in Penang - fried over charcoal and laden with lard, his char koay teow" contains most of the requisite ingredients: shrimps, cockles, egg, beansprouts. No Chinese waxed sausages nor chives, though.

Mr Lien still uses charcoal to fry his “koay teow”.

Sin Guat Keong coffee shop is on the corner of Kimberley Street and Cintra Street.


I have a really stupid question. What happens to these outdoor stalls when it rains, which I assume is often around there?

The rains will really put a damper on their business - but they’re used to this - the seasonal monsoonal rains, etc.

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Making noodles. Phongdien Town, Cantho City, Southern Vietnam.
Credit: CiaoHo