One of the more famous hawker dishes in Penang would be the Char Koay Teow. Everyone, regardless locals or tourists would swarm around these fragrantly fried koay teow (he fen or rice cake strips as some may call the noodles) stalls at any time of the day. In Penang alone, there are many versions of Char Koay Teow. Some would be fried dry whereas some would be cooked in a rather wet method. The ingredients alone differ from stall to stall. The basic ingredients would be the noodles, shrimp, bean sprouts, chives and cockles fried with special sauce with the option of added chili boh, chicken or duck eggs. Nowadays, with the competition from so many stalls, you can have other options such as squids, Chinese sausages, fish cakes, mantis prawns or even large king prawns. You would be amazed with what other seafood they would be adding in next.
One such famous stall would be the one situated along the heavily traffic area of Pulau Tikus – Sin Hwa Café Char Koay Teow. For a few generations, the household members of this well known stall in Penang has been frying out some good Char Koay Teow ever since they had moved from the Jalan Gottlieb food stalls decades ago. With the main stall still within the premise of Sin Hwa Café in the early evening and another stall located in the Pulau Tikus Market Street Food Corner at night, many people have been patronizing them ever since. A normal plate without egg would cost you RM3, with egg would be RM3.50 and with duck egg at RM4.
I visited the main stall recently to check out whether the taste had changed since it is now managed by the 3rd generation. The ingredients still maintained the same with the similar quality of lard oil, taste and spiciness but the style of cooking has differed quite substantially. Here’s what I was served.
Due to the cooking style and the amount of heat applied (wok hei) during the frying process by another new generation member (the grandson of the original seller to be precise), I personally felt that the taste was a bit out from what I had tasted before. It was not as dry and fragrant as before. On top of that, the noodles were not loosened up well. Certain parts of the noodles were still stuck together, thus were not evenly flavored. Other than that, everything else was fine. I hope the cook would take note of this minor hiccup so that his client won’t be further disappointed.
Sin Hwa Café is located along a heavy trafficked area. To find a parking space would be rather hard. I will show you where would be the best few places to park your car. If you are coming from town along Jalan Burma, you would a service road after Lebuhraya Codrington on your left. That’s where the Pulau Tikus 7-11 branch is. Try finding a parking space there. If you can’t find one, you will have to come out of the service road into the main road and turn left into Jalan Moulmein (between two coffee shops). Drive further until you have reached a crossroad (Jalan Pasar/ Jalan Moulmein/ Persiaran Cantoment) and you will see a huge car park at a corner just opposite along Persiaran Cantonment. Park your car there and walk back up Jalan Moulmein, turn left and walk further up and you will see the stall along the five foot way of the old shop houses. You won’t miss it if you have a strong sense to follow the emitted aroma from the Char Koay Teow.
Name: SIN HWA CAFÉ CHAR KOAY TEOW
Address: 329 Jalan Burma, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 10.30am-5.30pm on weekdays
GPS: 5.430656, 100.312400
Ambience: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 7/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 7/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)