Tuesday, 6 August 2013
Char Kuay Teow in Taman Sri Tebrau Hawker Centre, Johor Bahru
Taman Sri Tebrau Hawker Centre opened in the 1970s and had its heydays in the 1980s to 1990s. Today, it is less mentioned in foodie circles, perhaps overshadowed by the numerous choices that has sprouted up all over Johor Bahru. It also has a reputation of being dinghy and overpriced.
I have not been back to the Sri Tebrau Hawker Centre for over two decades and decided to come back to rediscover my old food haunt.
My friend Jeff mentioned in Johor Yummy group about the Penang Fried Kway Teow stall in this hawker centre. I decided to let this stall (number 61) be the starting point of my rediscovery this old lady of Johor food culture.
This char kway teow stall is run by Mr. Khor who has been frying kway teow for over twenty years. Mrs. Khor helps run this busy char kway teow stall.
Mr. Khor who is from Taiping, Perak, said he learnt the art of frying char kuay teow by observation and through years of trial and error. Judging from his regular clientele and from positive customer feedback, Mr. Khor believes that he has more or less perfected his own style of char kway teow.
Char Kway Teow for RM5
Even though the signboard says "Penang Goreng Kuay Teow", this is really Mr. Khor's own evolved creation.
Let's take a closer look at Mr. Khor's char kuay teow.
For many people, the humble see ham or cockles - just a common, inexpensive shellfish - actually holds the key to a good char kway teow.
Mr. Khor cooks the see ham nicely - just enough to kill any harmful bacteria but not the unique taste and flavour of cockle flesh and its fluids.
Mr. Khor throws in the fresh cockles and swiftly tosses them in the hot wok only after the noodles and kway teow are already cooked.
The tiny shrimps are slightly better than at the average char kway teow stall.
Mr. Khor's skilful strokes with the spatula and hot wok slightly chars the fish cake slices, taugeh (bean sprouts) and kway teow.
Mr. Khor and his wife stressed a couple of times that they use free range "kampung" chicken eggs. A more expensive option but the egg yolk and whites are denser.
The end result is a smoking plate of savoury, smokey, tender kway teow noodles with a tackier, gummier mouth feel, which I like. The moisture content of Mr. Khor's char kway teow is just right for me - it is right in middle between wet and dry.
Mr. Khor's char kway teow is not overly greasy. Mr. Khor uses vegetable oil to fry his char kuay teow. Mr. Khor said CKT tastes a lot better with lard (of course!) but customers nowadays prefer the "healthier" option.
If you are in Taman Sri Tebrau Hawker Centre, give Mr. Khor's char kway teow a try.
Restaurant name: Penang Goreng Kuay Teow
Address: Stall 61, Taman Sri Tebrau Hawker Centre, Jalan Keris, Taman Sri Tebrau, Johor Bahru
Hours: 3:30pm to 10:00pm (Thursdays off)
Date visited: 2 Aug 2013