One of the reasons to get out and eat our way through Penang Island is the promise of a good plate of char koay teow
While everyone has their opinion on who serves the best, we've decided to try some well-known places on the island and let our taste buds decide.
If you want to know where to get the best char koay teow
in Penang, we hope that this guide will help you out.
Kimberly Street Char Koay Teow
Having been featured on international programs such as BBC
and The Food Ranger
, we arrived at this humble stall with high hopes. The man behind the wok is Mr Lien, and his claim to fame is his frying skills over a charcoal flame and the addition of mantis prawns.
Priced at RM10, we breathed a sigh of relief at the portion that brims with batter-fried mantis prawns, cockles, prawns and fish cakes. The depth of wok hei
flavours shone through until the last strand and the mantis prawns brought heft to the overall dish, making it a well worth extra splurge.
Outside Sin Guat Keong Coffee Shop, 86, Lebuh Kimberley, 10100, Georgetown, Penang
6pm to 11pm
Left Hand Char Koay Teow
Uncle Chan is easily recognisable on social media with images of his wok-fire skills and trademark red cap. While making most of his name along Penang Road Chendol, he now has a new home at Penang Times Square.
Following an impressive fire control, the inviting, smoky aroma made its presence known when served. The rice noodles were a tad on the burnt side, yet the sweetness of the prawns, juicy cockles and the pepper-ish aftertaste balanced out the flavours well.
The speckles of char got us finishing up the meal in no time.
79-G-11, M Mall, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150 Georgetown, Penang
11:00am-9:00pm, closed on Wednesdays
Red Hat Aunty Char Koay Teow
The outlook of the stall may not look all that eye-catching, but Madam Soon’s red hat certainly did. With over 52 years of experience, she often draws a huge crowd of both locals and tourists alike.
The price tag of RM11 accounts for three big prawns over a bed of charcoal-fried noodles with cockles, beansprouts and egg.
The generous ratio of prawns offered a sweet and textural contrast to the spicy noodles, thanks to the freshly ground chilli paste. However, the noodles were too greasy and slightly soft to our liking, and the portion could have been on par with the price.
Kafe Heng Huat, 108 Lorong Selamat, Georgetown, Penang
11am – pm, closed on Mondays
Chew Jetty Char Koay Teow
While many places go overboard with ingredients, this humble stall along Chew Jetty relies on a basic yet properly done char koay teow
. There wasn’t anything unexpected on the plate, but customers were already wolfing down the noodles upon our arrival.
Served on a banana leaf, the flat noodles had the right amount of flavour and fragrance.
We agreed that prawns not necessarily have to be huge, since other ingredients came through well. To our surprise, even the handful of chives was no mere decoration as its earthy and crunchy notes stood out.
Chew Jetty, Weld Quay, 10300 George Town, Penang
Ah Leng Char Koay Teow
Rather than forking out RM14 for a plate that comes with mantis prawns, we opted for a normal version which was RM5 lower. Visually, the prawns were the star of the show, yet the symmetry of savoury, spicy and sweet flavours got us wiping the plate clean quickly.
Strand after strand, the wok hei essence was intense despite fried over a gas-fired wok. The mixture of pork lard, soy sauce and chilli paste was key, evenly coating the dry yet delicate noodles. The only question after the satisfying meal - why couldn’t it be filling too?
343, Jalan Dato Keramat, Kampung Makam, 10150, Georgetown, Penang
9.30am to 3.30pm, closed on Wednesdays
Tiger Char Koay Teow
Tiger Char Koay Teow needs no introduction in Penang as it has been operated by three generations of the Yeow family. And this plate of char koay teow
lives up to its generational reputation.
Maybe it’s the generous wok hei
aroma, or the textural interplay of fresh ingredients, or the savoury-spicy balance in every mouthful. We finally agreed, all three. The portion was right and less greasy as compared to others on the list.
At times, to narrow down the best char koay teow
isn’t that tough. Brownie points for the warm service!
179, Lebuh Carnarvon, Georgetown, 10450, Penang
7.30 am to 2pm
Siam Road Char Koay Teow
When we arrived, Legendary Uncle Tan was away, therefore his son was in control of the wok. Yet the sights of noodles fried over a blazing charcoal fire and engulfed in smoke signalled that we will still be getting the good stuff.
We are usually not concerned about noodles cooked in a large batch, but perhaps this time, it made the dish quite greasy and did not deliver the wok hei
oomph. Otherwise, the prawns and cockles were juicy, sliced Chinese sausages gave a pleasant sweetness and the heat level was fine.
While those grease-tolerant might like this, it wasn’t our favourite, and it got us to drink glasses of water.
82, Jalan Siam, Georgetown, 10400, Penang
12pm to 5pm, closed on Monday and Sunday.
Kafeteria Eng Loh
This pre-war coffeeshop has some of the best local delicacies for breakfast and lunch, and yet despite all of that, it is wise enough to order a plate of char koay teow
. The stall is manned by Ms Mayble Ng, who has taken over the baton from her late father.
The noodles had a lot going on – prawns, egg, fish cake slices, beansprouts and chives – but the proportions of each were spot-on, scrumptious and not overwhelming. Of particular note is the egg, which isn’t stirred into smatterings, rather came in chunks. And everything tastes and smells better when served on a banana leaf.
48, Lebuh Gereja, Georgetown, 10200, Penang
7am to 5pm, closed on Sunday
Bee Hwa Cafe
Not many can claim to serve a delicious Halal char koay teow
but that’s what this famous eatery has achieved for 28 years. The first thing written on the note when our noodles were placed was crabsticks!
Apart from the unusual ingredient, prawns, sliced fish balls, egg, chives and beansprouts were thrown in, while the combination of soy sauce and chilli concoction was just shy of perfection. It was tasty enough on its own which rendered the bird’s eye chilli for the most part, yet when added, the heat kick was rewarding.
10, Lebuh Dickens 10050 Georgetown, Penang
7am to 3pm. Monday to Friday, 7am to 1pm Saturday and closed on Sundays
Jelutong Night Market (Goggles Aunty)
This simple stall along Jelutong Night Market is probably the least famous in the list, but it’s well recommended from people of the surrounding vicinity. Cooked over a charcoal flame, the noodles were rightly charred with prawns, halved fish balls, egg, beansprouts and chives.
The flavours and textures were good, but some extra heat could have made it better. Portion-wise, it was quite generous, particularly for the price. A plate that kills the craving but won’t blow your mind away.
: Jalan Penaga, Taman Jelutong, 11600 Jelutong, Penang
6pm to 11pm (approximately)