Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Char Koay Teow, the inadvertent revival of "Not many, if any!"

Chinese New Year. Not the sickly hot and tedious affair that I had dreaded.

Earlier plan to abandon the festivities in hometown Penang this year and hibernate in foetal position in KL until the last of the fireworks went poof got upended last-minute. Mag and precious Ollie decided to come home after all!

And who says no to Ollie? To quote this (admittedly catchy in retrospect) one-time NZ hip-hop flash in the pan, "Not many, if any!"

The same quote, also applies as standard response by any person worth his or her weight on the island to my biggest beef during Chinese New Year - the question on the streets, "what to eat ah??"

But this one time, I was coaxed by Toto into the wild frontier of Penang CNY traffic to break fast with him at this cafe, end of Jalan Air Itam, almost at the foot of Penang Hill.

This industrious couple dished up plate after plate of authentic Char Koay Teow.

A decidedly small portion for RM5, as expected. But the smoky, heady plate of silky noodles, thoroughly coated with the goodness of egg and animal fat, topped with two pudgy, fresh prawns KILLED it.

"Uh, how many dudes you know roll like this,
how many dudes you know flow like this,
not many, if any,not many, if any,
How many dudes you know who got the skills to go in and rock,
a show like this,
uh uh, uh uh, I don't know any body."

The exception it seems, is here.

Now excuse me while I try restore my long-buried ambition to become a rapper, uh uh uh uh

Excellent Cafe (also "Xin Ya Zhou" or "New Asia" in Mandarin)
Jalan Air Itam
(last coffee shop on your left if you're coming from Georgetown, right before you hit the Penang Hill roundabout)
11400 Penang


Sean said...

that char kuey teow looks pretty divine, but how could you neglect to mention the cockles in it! i see at least three!!! and IMO, those would be the piece de resistance of that plate!
p.s. i was gonna compose a few rap lines in honor of cockles, but i'll spare you ... this time! :D

J said...

I. WANT. *sob*

Anonymous said...

I accidently found the place and have since frequented it everytime I am in Penang.. the lady boss at one time was very 'snooty' but friendly now. You should also try the Mee rebus..mo tak thing...and for entertainment, the 2 Indian gentlemen running the drinks section shout their orders in perfect Hokkien !

Ciki said...

OMG! what rap is that woman! hahaha:P I don't even know!

Now Char Kwey Teow is something i have not eaten in AGES. Take me la u bum:P

minchow said...

Sean, oh come on! In honour of this NZ-born rap ditty brought back to life, I am going to insist that you grace us with some rap lines!

J, let's hunt CKT down in Klang Valley! Will be a while before I'm heading back to Penang, so will need my fix soon!

Anonymous, hey thanks for dropping by :-)! I did think that both of them could've been a wee bit friendlier, but then again, the heat was on! I missed the Indian drinks seller, rats!!

Ciki, bona fide lyrics for that song Not Many! Lame-ass right, hahaha! At one time, it was all you'd hear at every street corner in NZ!

alex said...

wow.. looks delicious... want to try the dish..

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Julian Si said...

Heh heh ... how to go wrong with "excellent" cafe :-)


minchow said...

Alex, best place to try it is on the island! Go knock yourself out! :-)

Julian, amused too by its multiple identities - Excellent in English, New Asia in Mandarin and Wawa (meaning?) in BM!

ck lam said...

Thanks for sharing this CKT...would love to try it.
From the size of it and feedback from readers, it looks like food in Penang are indeed getting more and more expensive...

Kenny Mah said...

It's not the portion that matters, it's more of the perfection that is divine... divine char kway teow that is. Hehe.

P.S. Thank you, Sean - for sparing us the CKT rap. :P

Pureglutton said...

Oh gawd, tat plate of CKT is killing me NOW!

minchow said...

CK Lam, yup prices seem to be the only thing out of control in Penang! But according to Patrick Teoh recently, it's still THE place to be!

LFB, whaddya mean, thank you Sean!? I'm still waiting for his rap!

Pureglutton, me too! I brought pasta from home for lunch, not going to be anywhere near this, boohoo!

Julian Si said...

Oooh ... multiple identities, how exciting.

Damn, if not for my cough as well as being 3,000 miles away, I sure'd like some of that CKT!


Anonymous said...

been having Char Koey Teow here close to 30 years, a must have every week, min 2 plates per visit, one of the best in Penang!