[Penang, Malaysia] Char Koay Teow from Heng Huat Cafe, Lorong Selamat

One of the top Penang street food of all time is the Penang-style char koay teow, Teochew-style fried rice noodles with shrimps, blood cockles, Chinese waxed sausages, beansprouts, chives and egg, seasoned with a blend of good light and dark soy sauces, fish sauce and chili paste. A good Penang-style char koay teow is light, with that elusive “wok hei” (“breath of wok”) aroma which is obtained from searing the noodles in a well-oiled, seasoned wok over high heat, preferably on a charcoal-fired brazier, with fresh ingredients, sinfully-rich from the use of pork lard, and well-seasoned.

A close cousin of Penang-style char koay teow is the pad Thai, a Teochew-inflected yet very Thai concoction. Pad Thai noodles are more toothsome and stretchy, whereas the “koay teow”, which is fresh, flat rice noodles, are soft and delicate.

My favourite char koay teow spot in Penang is currently the (in)famous “Lady in the Red Beret” char koay teow lady on Lorong Selamat. Madam Soon Suan Choo, she of the fiery temper and acid tongue, also happened to conjure up the most decadently delicious plate of char koay teow this side of the universe.

With the proliferation of good char koay teow places around town these days, and the social distancing rules required amidst the COVID pandemic, the volume of customers has dropped quite a bit here, so one doesn’t need to endure a long 45-minute wait like it was on the old days. Nowadays, it’s only 15 minutes, if one comes around 12 noon (before the lunch-time rush).

There were four of us in our lunch party, and we waited whilst Mdm Soon’s assistant delivered the freshly-fried char koay teow to our table one plate at a time - that’s how particular Mdm Soon is. One is supposed to consume one’s noodles the moment it leaves the wok and transported to one’s table. But we didn’t - simply because we wanted to snap these together. :joy:

Just shows the finesse and precision with which Mdm Soon flash-fried each plate of char koay teow!

Each plate was a sheer delight!

Lorong Selamat Char Koay Teow
Heng Huat Cafe, 82, Lorong Selamat
10400 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Opening hours: 10am to 5pm, daily except Tuesday.


2 plates for me alone. Love fried noodles in any form.

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