Penang char koay teow.
Wuan and I would patronize restaurants serving Penang hawker food whenever we come across any in the Klang Valley. We were at 1 Utama last weekend and were undecided on what we wanted to eat after we finished watching ASIMO in action. We wandered around and came across a restaurant tucked in a corner and remembered that we had eaten there once a few months before. I also recalled that I had a rice set dish which I thought was too bland in taste.
To play safe, I decided to order something else. The last time I had char koay teow was many many months ago. I have yet to taste a plate of nice Penang char koay teow in the Klang Valley. I ordered that anyway hoping that it would appease my appetite at the very least. I also ordered cincau. Cincau or leong fun is a black grass jelly. It is served thinly sliced in a glass of simple syrup and ice cubes. It is one of my favourite drinks. Cincau is especially refreshing on hot days.
It took a while before the dish was served. The moment it was laid on on the table, I already knew I would not like it. First, it did not have that unique aroma common in a good plate of char koay teow. First and foremost, the koay teow must be stir-friend on a kuali that is well heated which I believed was not the case. The heat is to remove the raw smell of the taugeh (bean sprouts) and bring out the aroma of the other ingredients, especially the egg.
The dish had the usual ingredients like ku chai (chives), si hum (cockles), shelled prawns, taugeh, crab meat and egg. What it did not have were bak eu pok (crispy pork lard) and sliced lap cheong (Chinese waxed sausage). The omission of the last two ingredients kind of contributed to the lack of aroma. Penang char koay teow without the bak eu pok is just not Penang char koay teow.
Sauces also play an important role in making a good plate of char koay teow. I guess it was not well blended. The dish was rather bland and not as spicy as it should be. Char koay teow should be a little on the salty side which is somewhat complimented by the sweetness of the lap cheong slices. This dish was none of those. All said, I would rather forget that I had char koay teow that day. It was a total disappointment and I promised myself that I will never return to eat at that restaurant again.