Sunday, 23 February 2014
Ipoh Char Kway Teow in Restoran Sing Li Kopitiam in Johor Bahru
I passed by this char kway teow stall during today's food hunt in Taman Century and stopped to watch. I noticed it had an extra large wok and the friendly hawker was using both a ladle and spatula together to fry kway teow. (The wok was too large and heavy to toss the noodles during frying, in the usual way.)
The hawker was very friendly and invited me to try his char kway teow. But, I was not ready to make a decision yet. I wanted to survey the whole area around KSL Mall before committing my precious calories and cholesterol. So, I excused myself and continued my food hunt.
I finally settled on Restoran Weng Kee (I will post about this very interesting roast meat shop later).
After a delicious lunch at Weng Kee, I went back to Sing Li kopitiam. Again, the friendly hawker boss warmly invited me to try his char kway teow.
We started to chat and I found out that his name is Michael Lim, and he is from Ipoh.
When he scooped a ladle full of that cloudy liquid at the bottom left and splashed it into the wok, I asked him what it was. Michael told me that it's anchovy stock. That clinched it for me. I wanted to know how CKT fried with anchovy stock tastes like.
So, I ordered a small RM5.00 plate of CKT to try.
Here's all the ingredients in a plate of Michael's CKT at a glance - kway teow noodles, yellow mee, bean sprouts, egg, chives, cockles, a couple of shelled shrimps, and a dollop of chili paste. That's it. (No larb cheong, or Cantonese waxed sausage.)
I like my CKT fried one plate at a time - no short cuts. The wok's sweet spot (hottest part) is very small - it is just big enough for one plate of CKT, if we want all the ingredients to be nicely seared.
My plate of very well executed CKT for RM5.00. The kway teow was moist but not drippy or wet - it was almost gummy and dry. The savouriness was mild (coming from the soy and anchovy). Slightly spicy as I had asked for added chili (I always do). The bean sprouts were very crunchy and juicy. There were some half a dozen small, clean and well cooked cockles in the plate.
Though not of exquisite quality, Michael gives two quite large prawns per plate and these were fresh enough.
Michael's flavoursome CKT was likable though it could help with a bit more wok hei. I didn't see or taste any charred bits or edges. There was also not much aroma.
Michael's CKT is pork free which explains why his CKT has less wok hei as vegetable oil has a lower smoking point than lard. Michael had been frying CKT for nearly 30 years and went pork free about 20 years ago.
Many readers and friends have asked me where to get lard free CKT in Johor Bahru. If you prefer your CKT lard free, Michael's Ipoh CKT may be just right for you.
Restaurant name: Ipoh char kway teow stall in Restoran Sing Li Kopitiam
Address: Jalan Serigala, Taman Century Gardens, Johor Bahru
Hours: 1:00pm to 9:00pm (closed on Thursday)
No pork, no lard, no Halal cert
Date visited: 23 Feb 2014
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