Comforting chye poh kway teow

Egg takes centre stage in the dish and the chye poh gives it a sweet and salty flavour.
Egg takes centre stage in the dish and the chye poh gives it a sweet and salty flavour. ST PHOTO: REBECCA LYNNE TAN

Sometimes, the simplest food can offer the most satisfaction.

Teochew-style fried kway teow with chye poh, or preserved radish, is a humble dish without luxe ingredients.

In fact, it is so plain that usually, aside from the chye poh, the only other ingredients added to it are bean sprouts, eggs and spring onions or chives. There is no meat, no seafood and certainly no green leafy vegetables.

Yet, when it is done well, it is delicious.

Poh, a two-year-old stall at Empress Road Market & Food Centre run by Mr Ng Thiam Siew, offers a few styles of fried kway teow, one of which is his take on Teochew chye poh kway teow ($5).

  • POH

  • Empress Road Market & Food Centre,

    Block 7 Empress Road, off Farrer Road, 01-89

    Open: 11.30am to 7pm, with ad-hoc days off

    Rating: 3.5/5

He also serves dishes such as dry fried hor fun, sliced fish hor fun and wat tan hor with a thick egg gravy. Other offerings include prawn paste chicken and sweet and sour pork.

At Poh, every dish is cooked to order. Mr Ng's wok skills are deft and he controls the flame with ease. His ingredients are neatly placed in metal bowls - like the mise en place you might see in a restaurant kitchen - before being tossed in the wok.

The 55-year-old says he has been a cook for more than 20 years and has worked in the kitchens of Chinese restaurants in hotels such as Sheraton Towers and Shangri-La Hotel, as well as in country clubs.

He came out on his own to start the stall two years ago and named it Poh - his nickname in the industry.

His chye poh kway teow served with prawns looks more like an omelette than fried flat-rice noodles at first glance, but do not let that put you off.

I think it should be called chye poh neng (Teochew for preserved radish omelette) with kway teow instead, because it is the egg that takes centre stage.

There is more egg than kway teow.

The edge of the omelette is crisp, while the rest of it is cooked just right - soft and not rubbery. The kway teow, which is in the centre of the omelette, is still chewy, just the way I like it.

He is also generous with the chye poh, which is seasoned with white pepper. I love that the preserved radish gives the dish a sweet, salty and comforting flavour.

Oh, and there are cubes of lard too. Simply satisfying.

•Follow Rebecca Lynne Tan on Twitter @STrebeccatan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 05, 2015, with the headline 'Comforting chye poh kway teow'. Print Edition | Subscribe