So here’s what really good char koay kak tastes like! The sad, soggy version I had on the first night is nothing like the real deal!
This was an unexpected find. Ricky and I were walking back to Traders Hotel after breakfast at Toh Soon Cafe. From Campbell Street (Lebuh Campbell), we walked down Cintra Street (Lebuh Cintra). When we reached Kimberley Street (perpendicular to Cintra St.), I spotted two pushcarts selling food.
My foodie radar told me we were on to something great, so I insisted on checking them out! One was making ban chien koay 慢煎糕, the other was a lady frying char koay kak with gusto! Luckily I only had kaya bread and milk tea earlier. Breakfast Part 2, here I come!
Char koay kak is the Penang counterpart of Singapore’s chai tow kway 菜头粿 (fried radish cake). Actually, our chai tow kway is a farce, ‘cos there’s no chai tow (radish) in the kway (cake), only seasoning and MSG. In Penang, they simply call it char koay kak 炒粿角 (fried rice cake chunks).
Because the taxi we hired was waiting to pick us up at the hotel, we packed our char koay kak to go. The steamed rice cakes are fried with chai po 菜脯, beansprout, Chinese chives, garlic, egg, and dark soy sauce.
The seasoning isn’t as thick and sweet as the Singapore “black” chai tow kway. The taste is more savoury and just mildly sweet. But it’s delicious in its own style, and the crunchy beansprouts are so refreshing! There’s plenty of wok hei too! Gosh, it’s really scrumptious! I’m now drooling at the memory…
I wonder if the Singapore XO-sauce fried radish cake with beansprout was inspired by Penang char koay kak?