I have spent a lot of time on the balmy island of Penang, Malaysia and some say it is the street food capital of the world, lucky me! Needless to say there is plenty of good eats on streets with a wide array of flavours including Chinese, Indian, Malay, Western and more. There are many of my all time favourites amongst the street food here like nasi kandar curry, roti canai, peanut pancake to name a few but for me, when done right, nothing beats the spicy Chinese noodle dish called char koay teow. I have found no one who does it better than the uncle on Siam Road. He is just shy of 80 years old but still going strong. and has been firing it up on his wok over charcoal for over 50 years. Recently his char koay teow was rated 14th of the top 50 street dishes in the world!
When I first experienced this char koay teow the uncle was still wheeling his cart out to his well known corner of Siam Road everyday and cooking right there on the street. He had to deal with the tropical elements, traffic and bear in mind he is cooking this over charcoal and has to manage this fire through it all. . I saw the big queue, with an average wait close to an hour. wondered what all the fuss was about. One bite and I was hooked, that spicy flavour and slightly smoky delicate noodles etched in my taste buds forever. It is was of one of those first trips to Siam Road when I set my personal record, joyfully downing 2 and half plates of char koay teow, oh yeah!
Now the uncle has his cart setup at the front of a cafe and it must be much easier for him and he even has a roof over his head. Though uncle does almost all the cooking himself, his son helps a lot prepping food, taking orders and will even step in on wok if uncle takes a well deserved break. There is hope this great dish will carry on after the uncle hangs up his apron for good. If you have the chance, do queue up for this special dish, you taste buds will be delighted.
Have to patient queuing, there is only 1 wok feeding everyone
Scrumptious noodles frying of a hot charcoal fire
You can get this amazing dish in the comfort of this cafe now
Uncle working his magic on the wok
Super tidy work station
That’s what I’m talking about
Siam Road Char Koay Teow Address: No.82, Siam Road, George Town Penang, Malaysia Operating hours: 12pm-7pm (closed on Sunday)