Char Kway Teow...I guess this must be the dish most Singaporeans would miss after being away in Ang Mo countries for a while...at least, for me, this is what I crave most. I mostly prefer the Penang CKT...no sweet sauce, sometimes with large prawns, crab meat. Flash fried over super hot wok. But since I have been in Singapore longer than my early childhood days in Penang, I have grown to love the Singapore version as well. I do have my favourites, but an important ingredient is for the CKT to be fried in a super hot wok to create the wok hei, with pork lard as the oil of choice, and liberally sprinkled with pork lard crisps. Yum! I don't mind if its dry or a bit wet. I can appreciate both sweet versions preferred by the Teochews or the non-sweet ones. But I do need my dose of chilli.
Amongst my favourites are the Outram Park CKT, now in Hong Lim; an old store in Old Airport Road (not the famous one, but one serving their CKT without the sweet black sauce...I forget their name. The Margaret Drive uncle. The little store at the corner in Amoy Street. And Yong Huat.
Though generically I lump them under CKT, I actually prefer to specially order the Char Bee Hoon...why? two reasons...because CBH is less commonly requested, I can be assured that the "chef" fries my order on its own...this is possibly the single most important criteria for a good wok hei...as a large serving will quench the fire easier than a single serving. And I actually feel the bee hoon, being not made with oil, is...um...less oily in texture and taste. CBH are offered by all my favourites at Outram Park, Amoy and of course Yong Huat.
The owner of Yong Huat is a short stocky man...robustly built, and looks very strong and sturdy to me, with a bunch of thick black beard reminiscent of Kwan Kong. He is a jolly fellow...with a deep strong voice.
Both very well fried, with a wallop of pork lard for super flavour. Great wok hei. And topped with those immensely gorgeous, delicious pork lard crisps. Super greasy, but super good.
How does it compare to the others? Well. The standard bearer for me is Outram Park when fried by the old man...mind you, his son...aka young man is no spring chicken...having lived, I believe, no less than 55 years. But there is something magical about the CBH fried by the old fellow. Somewhat more special. The chilli he used is based on pepper and less on chilli...and the appearance of the CBH and CKT, even with "keh hiam" is uncharacteristically not red. The older fellow fries early in the morning...you can catch him at his wok from about 7am till about 9:30 when his son takes over.
The Margaret Drive uncle, who btw, speaks quite good English, and now practicing his wok in Telok Blangah makes a CKT which is wetter, sweeter. And the chap at Amoy, again only when the old man fries the CKT/CBH himself is excellent.
And what about the Hill Street chap who now practices in Bedok? For me, good, but below the standards offered by the gang above.
Can I rate them? Well, no...I love them all the same. Sometimes one more than the other, but the order in which I love them changes often. Fickle? Perhaps, but I rather see this as the ability to appreciate.
I savour the CBH and also the CKT. But I do limit myself to no more than once a quarter to indulge in this hugely greasy, heart attack inducing meals...except when I am in Penang...but that is another story.
125/127 East Coast Rd S428810
Time: 0800 - 2000
Owner: Mr. Pang Weng Hong