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May 12, 2010 07:26 AM

Penang Char Koay Teow : the lesser known and yet better

Most visitors to Penang, especially those from the other states in Malaysia and Singapore will always make compulsory stop at the stalls at Lorong Selamat and/or Sister's. This not only drove up prices at these stalls but cause the standard to drop. Imagine one of them even cooks like 10 servings at a time to coup with the orders. The koay teow is hardly cook and definitely does not have the aroma of a truly well cooked char koay teow. Some lesser know stalls still cook one serving at a time and with real fire from a charcoal stove. The koay teow is well separated by the continuous stirring of the ladle and heat and time bring out the fragrant aromatics from slightly burnt soya sauce, garlic, chilli, lard and koay teow.

Have a few stalls to recommend:-
- Jln Air Itam, the last coffee shop on the left just before the roundabout for the train ride up Penang Hill. A chinese type coffee shop but runs by an Indian. This place also very famous for mee goreng and mee rebus (in the afternoon). Char Koay Teow is sold in the morning. (Google Map : 5.405429,100.283407)

- Corner of Siam Road and Anson Road. This roadside cart stall only start in the afternoon, 3 pm would be a good time. Sitting is available in the coffee shop right at the corner on opposite side ofthe road. (Google Map : 5.415463,100.320293)

- Lorong Kampung Jawa, Bayan Baru. This stall located at the corner coffee shop, two doors from Public Bank, is a favorite for morning breakfast for many of the electronics factory workers in Bayan Baru (Google Map : 5.327574,100.294479)

- Jln Dato Keramat, in a coffee shop just opposite the old Federal Cinema. On google map it is corner of Jalan Dunlop and Jalan Dato Keramat. The stall name is Ah Leng. (Google Map: 5.412905,100.319526)

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  1. Good recommendations.
    I like Ah Leng as well, but it's very busy these days and you have to wait 45 minutes or more during lunch-time. Usually, you can phone ahead & order first (provided you are a regular) so you don't have to wait so long. Ah Leng's char koay teow is also not exactly to everyone's taste - it's wetter/moister and has a hot-sourish taste.

    Sisters in MacAlister Road are good if you go off-peak period, e.g. Tue-Fri (they close on Mondays) around 3pm, which is my favourite time to be there.

    2 Replies
    1. re: penang_rojak

      Re: Sisters Fried Koay Teow in MacAlister Rd - I heard that one of the sisters have died recently (sob!). The other one is still cooking but she's now in her 80s, so I think we should quickly try & catch her whilst she's still around! There is certainly no subsititute for experience & skill, of someone who's been frying koay teow for 60 years!!

      1. re: klyeoh

        No fear of missing out on great CKT now that we know the 2nd sister's son can cook as well as the legendary duo, hehe.

    2. Saw in the papers that the Lorong Selamat lady berated a customer for remarking that her Koay Teow was too expensive...

      3 Replies
      1. re: mikey8811

        Actually, it was her sister who berated the customer, but also not in front of that person. However, someone there who overheard it started an Internet campaign to boycott the stall. According to the Lorong Selamat char-koay-teow lady, her business was not affected. And she's not taking out a defamation suit against the one who started the "boycott" campaign.

        1. re: mikey8811

          That Lorong Selamat fried koay teow is SOOOO good, the red-beret female CKT Nazi can call me whatever she wants - just give me the food!

          1. re: klyeoh

            KL: I agree completely. Though i do not condone the somewhat narcissist nature of the red beret 'aunty' , her CKT is really the best I have ever had

            OneBigMouth: The last time I was in Penang was about 2 years ago and I do remember the Lorong Selamat lady cooking each plate individually and it was excellent (wonderful wok hei and texture of the noodles). No doubt price is somewhat exorbitant (especially when compared to the other stalls) but as long as the quality remains, i will rather pay a few extra RM for something so much better. I have tried Sisters once (which was horrible) and Ah Leng (spicier and 'wet-ter', good wok hei but noodles was slight overcooked) and several other stalls around penang but non so far imo matches up to lorong selamats. Will keep your recommendations in mind and one day will do the great Penang CKT road tour to see if there is a better alternative.

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            1. Ah Leng's good, though I felt the Lorong Selamat lady's still Numero Uno ;-)

              Ah Leng Char Koay Teow
              Kafe Khoon Hiang, opposite Federal Cinema
              Jalan Dato Keramat, corner with Dunlop St
              10150 Penang

              2 Replies
              1. re: klyeoh

                Nice. By the way, I was back at the Two Sisters Char Koay Teow place in Lam Heng Coffeeshop, MacAlister Road yesterday (Wesak Day), just to see if there is any truth to what people said about deterioration of cooking standards ever since the demise of one of the sisters.

                I'm glad to report that the char koay teow still tasted as good as I remembered it for the past decades. The guy frying it yesterday morning is the son to one of the sisters, I didn't ask him which one. He's just as good as his mother/auntie. I polished off the entire plate.The last time I was at Ah Leng (last week), I only managed to finish about half the plate.

                1. re: penang_rojak

                  The younger of the 2 sisters died, but her son cooks as well as any of them!