Cheap & Good

Sweet Bistro hides a char kway teow gem

A small sign above dessert stall Sweet Bistro in Holland Drive reads: Penang Char Kway Teow $3/$4.

I scratch my head.

The shop has an extensive display of cakes, muffins and tau sar piah. I can even spot pots of dessert such as green bean soup, pulut hitam and cheng tng behind the counter.

This stall sells char kway teow too? No way.

It turns out that each plate of char kway teow is cooked to order. None of the ingredients are on display at the front, unlike most other noodle stalls.


The $4 portion of the Penang char kway teow comes with prawns, lup cheong and bean sprouts. ST PHOTO: REBECCA LYNNE TAN

  • SWEET BISTRO

  • 02-24 Holland Drive Market & Food Centre, Block 44 Holland Drive, open: 7am to 3pm daily, with ad-hoc days off

    Rating: 4/5 stars

Owner Benz Tan, 53, says he used to be a chef, working at hotels and restaurants in Singapore and overseas. He opened Sweet Bistro about a decade ago and started offering Penang char kway teow some years back.

He uses the usual kway teow - not the thinner flat rice noodle version used in Penang - for his Penang-inspired char kway teow.

The kway teow here has a good, smoky flavour or wok hei (Cantonese for breath of wok). Its chilli is mild yet energetic.

I appreciate the slight charred and blackened edges of the rice noodles, bean sprouts and lup cheong (Chinese sausage), which add to the dish's overall appeal.

Flavour and aroma also come from the generous amount of garlic the noodles are fried with.

A $4 plate comes with two prawns.

I like that the dish is fried only when an order is placed - so no limp, soggy, cold kway teow here.

I tucked into it as a snack after I had polished off a plate of wonton noodles and sui gao soup from another stall.

The Penang char kway teow was so good that I finished about half of it even on a full stomach.

When I went back to the stall last Thursday at lunch time, the char kway teow had already sold out.

I suggest heading there in the morning to avoid disappointment.

• Follow Rebecca Lynne Tan on Twitter @STrebeccatan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 09, 2016, with the headline 'Hidden char kway teow gem'. Print Edition | Subscribe