CHEAP & GOOD

Char kway teow one plate at a time

Hawker Loh Kwee Leng fries the noodles one plate at a time to control the quality.
Hawker Loh Kwee Leng fries the noodles one plate at a time to control the quality.ST PHOTO: THNG LAY TEEN

When you order a plate of noodles from Hai Kee Teochew Cha Kuay Teow stall in Telok Blangah Crescent, be prepared to wait.

That is not just because there is always a queue for the delicious char kway teow.

It does not matter to hawker Loh Kwee Leng, who does everything himself, whether there are five or 10 people standing in line.

He patiently fries one plate of char kway teow ($3) at a time, putting his heart into it. Even if the customer is ordering two or three plates at one time, he does the same.

He says that if he were to fry the noodles in bulk, it would be difficult to control the quality, resulting in the char kway teow for some plates being too dry.

  • HAI KEE TEOCHEW CHA KUAY TEOW

  • Block 11, 01-102, Telok Blangah Crescent Market & Food Centre

    Open: 5 to 9.30pm (Monday to Saturday), closed on Sunday

    Rating: 4.5/5 stars

After frying, he takes great pains to wipe the side of the plate to ensure it is clean. The tidiness of his stall also speaks volumes about how much emphasis he places on hygiene. Everything is spick and span. Nothing is out of place.

He also makes sure the ingredients he uses are fresh.

At 2pm, three hours before the stall opens, the 65-year-old is already there to fry pork strips to make lard cubes - one of the most important elements in a great plate of char kway teow.

Mr Loh, who used to operate a stall in Margaret Drive Hawker Centre for more than 40 years, moved to Telok Blangah Crescent about five years ago.

He counts among his regulars three generations of customers.

The first time I was at his stall, it was just before it opened at 5pm. When I got my plate of char kway teow about 20 minutes later, I enjoyed sinking my teeth into the freshly fried lard cubes, which were still crisp. The char kway teow was moist, with each strand well coated with egg, and the wok hei really came through.

I like how the noodles tasted just right, not too salty or bland. The chilli was enough to give a hint of spiciness.

Though the cockles were not big, there were enough to make me happy and want to return for more.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 30, 2015, with the headline 'Char kway teow one plate at a time'. Print Edition | Subscribe