Char Kway Teow was invented by cardiologists
For the uninitiated, there are two things you need to know about Char Kway Teow.
The first is that it is the most sinful, artery clogging angioplasty worthy chinese hawker dish known to mankind, but utterly, undeniably and death defyingly delicious.
Exuberant and unbridled use of lard oil, intense heat to fry yellow noodles and kway teow ( carbo alert !) slices of Chinese sausage, Jamus cockles and lots of heavy cloying sweet black sauce and chilli.
Yes all that and to balance the triple by-pass concoction, a generous dose of bean sprouts just to slow down the heart arrest.
There is a “type”
The second thing you should know about Char Kway Teow is that whether you like a particular stall depends to a great extent on your “type” or style of CKT that you like.
So arguing clinically or intellectually (or hissing aggressively ) about which stall is the best is futile, because we have deep seated biases already clogging our arteries that we can’t think, let alone articulate meaningfully in a non partisan way.
So does that mean there’s no objective yardstick ?
Well feel free to agree to disagree, except when you disagree with me, in which case you are just an ignorant, palette challenged dimwit fucktard.
Liang Ji Char Kway Teow
A friend told me that her current fave is a stall that has been around for a while but has recently just moved to new premises at the newly renovated Tekka Place.
I have never heard of this stall although I’ve tried my fair share of CKT in Singapore.
Upon googling however, I discovered that Liang Ji is helmed by a flamboyant chap known as Dominic Neo, who has been featured in the media for lowering his prices substantially when National Day comes by.
This year, he declared that he will charge only 2 dollars per plate if you bring your own egg.
Bear in mind that he charges $5 and $7 for his char kway teow and you will understand that this is a significant reduction in the prices, all in the name of the country’s celebrations.
Lol I can just picture the monster queue forming in front of him, all clutching dutifully an egg and waving mini Singapore flags.
Dominic is also not shy to be known as an ex offender and this is even proudly announced in the sign board at his stall.
He is certainly controversial.
In 2017, he live-streamed himself verbally abusing a taxi driver for not knowing his way around when fetching him. He had to remove the posting shortly after he received an intense reaction from braying netizens asking for a boycott of his char kway teow stall for his behaviour.
All these gangster keyboard warriors 🙄🙄🙄.
I am not defending his actions but to his credit, he apologised to the taxi driver in a heartfelt manner on line and added this line:
ps : as I have a low education, I asked my friend to help me draft the above apology… sincerely from my heart
Enough said. I think it takes balls to apologise unreservedly and publicly when you know you are wrong.
My visit to Liang Ji
I felt extraordinarily healthy today so I decided that I needed my dickey heart clogged.
I have been diagnosed with several blockages years ago and have been advised to be on life long aspirin medication. All that aspirin – one needs some CKT to maintain cosmic balance right ?
So I took a drive to Tekka Place.
Parked and took a lift to the ground floor. A few steps and this brought me to the food court known as Xin Tekka.
It has quirky colourful signs at the entrance but as I entered, I was met with Uber chill black tones that was unlike a typical food court.
I half expected Techno music but there was none.
Sour puss lady at the counter took my temperature but did not chop my hand like in a hip happening club and looked disinterested when I said I didn’t want any ecstasy pills, just some good old fashioned Char Kway Teow.
The place was Avant garde. They had booths in black tiles where you could have mini parties and play beer pong and not annoy others.
But where is the crowd at 1245 pm on a Friday afternoon ? I really hope traffic flow of people will pick up as these F&B outlets are suffering with such thin crowds.
My interaction with Paikia Neo
His stall was adorned with media pictures and write ups about his stall. I was the only customer lurking around and I took a few pictures before making my order – one plate of char kway Teow extra chilli please.
He started frying and then in a loud booming voice he said “ Go and sit down “.
He repeated again
“ Sit down la. There’s nobody I’ll bring it to you “
What ? He’s going to come out of his stall to bring me my food ?
He’s alone at his stall and never in the history of Food courts in Singapore have I ever been served, or heard of anyone being served ?
Wait – did I look triad ?
Most people will say yes ( ugly and triad ) and if you ask my friends who also know about my anger management issues when I was younger unlike my current mellow saccharine self, there will be a resounding yes and loud chuckles.
So this was a first – I got served by brother Dominic at a Food Court.
This was where I sat and this is my view of his stall from where I sat.
I saw him walking towards me and with great relish, he served me ………………………cue the drum roll ………………. Carrot Cake.
I blinked at him and bellowed that I ordered CKT ( I had to match his loud booming voice).
He was readily apologetic and immediately wanted to replace it but I immediately said no to leave it and bring me another CKT.
It was the dance of the triads – the settlement talks.
But I paid him for both dishes.
I have to tell you that I like this nice chap. The reason is that the moment he walked back to his stall he suddenly had a surge of customers and this steady stream did not let up.
He was nice to everyone with his loud booming voice and greeted everyone with a loud “brother” or “sister” and even inquired about their day.
So no. He was not nice to me only because I looked like 369 ( a local notorious boy band ) but was genuinely nice to everyone.
He told everyone they had to wait and stated frying my order.
Because he now had a long queue, he bellowed “brother your food is ready ..” from his stall. I kid you not, which was some distance away.
The whole foodcourt now knew that my food is ready.
I grinned and went to pick up my Char Kway Teow.
And so the heart tremors began
Char Kway Teow are like kisses – there are different types.
There are the hot and searing type – urgent, intense, some tongue, some pulsating but urgent nibbling with a crescendo that builds and builds.
Daniel Food Diary
This reminds me of the likes of Hill Street Char Kway Teow and No 18 Zion Road Fried Kway Teow which are robust, intense, heavy on the sauces and fried for some time on intense heat to coax out a strong Wok Hei aroma.
Noodles on steroids with a touch of class.
Then there is the wet and slobbering kind. Quite nice but full of moisture and wetness that is sometimes a bit too much and lacks a little intensity.
Some of you boomers may remember that in their Hey days, Apollo Fried Kway Teow had a never ending queue of customers clamouring for their extremely wet style of CKT, their famed offering of a spoon to sweep up the swimming juice that accompanied the CKT. Enough to satisfy any wet CKT dreams.
Open Rice. Com
Then there is the sweet and cloying kind – medium intensity, shyly tantalising but lacking the overall rawness and unbearable and overwhelming passion.
Daniel Food Diary
I put Meng Kee Fried Kway Teow in this category. I always find them a little too sweet in their offerings and not enough oomph for my liking.
I think Liang Ji serves a very good plate of CKT. It had strong flavours and everything was nicely balanced.
But it does not have the same intensity and Wok-Hei-ness of Hill Street which double fries their CKT.
I have spent enough time in the early morning queue of Hill Street to see the mother frying a Monster batch of their Kway Teow with seasoning before dividing them into batches for a second final fry by the son who fries up a storm.
Hill Street CKT has enough moisture but it is more moist and sticky than wet, as I think a good CKT should be.
I think Zion Road has got that consistency of their noodles similarly right, except that I think Zion Road is just a tad too greasy for my liking, but it is a very good CKT I would eat any day nevertheless.
I think Liang Ji is wetter than most CKTs now in Singapore but not quite as wet as Apollo.
You have to like the wet type to appreciate it fully.
I like Liang Ji’s CKT but wished it was fried a little longer to make it more intense and not as lubricated. A bit stickier and denser and less wet would make it a better consistency.
I also preferred my CKT to be darker and more robustly seasoned and with more pizzaz.
But you know what – I would rate Liang Ji to be in a top ten list in Singapore for Char Kway Teow any day, and I cannot understand why it is never mentioned.
I think Liang Ji is better than the much touted and loved Outram Park Char Kway Teow, whose standards have dropped considerably in recent times.
Daniel Food Diary
I visited them 2 to 3 times last year and each time, I found their CKT to be starchy and devoid of flavour or finesse.
I say they should be removed from the list and Liang Ji should certainly go up.
Liang Ji Kway Teow King
2 Serangoon Road, Xin Tekka Place, #01-55/59, Singapore 218227