I love char kway teow unfortunately, my halal restrictions have relegated my enjoyment of char kway teow to Malay and Indian versions of them. They usually come in deep or light red colours and taste way too similar to your mee goreng mamak or as plain as eating boiled kway teow.
It is literally by faith that 786 Char Kway Teow exists, as it’s manned by Anis, both owner and chef, who is a Muslim convert. Located at Bukit Merah View Market & Hawker Centre, Anis was a former Chinese banquet chef of almost 20 years before coming out to sell halal char kway teow on his own.
His current stall originally belonged to his late grandmother who sold zi char. To make up for the lack of manpower, Anis decided to sell char kway teow instead, though his cooking style does utilise some aspect of zi char.
Understandably, Anis has to tweak his recipe as he doesn’t have the option of using pork and lard to flavour the char kway teow. As such, he relies on a secret blend of seasonings and sauces to make up for missing ingredients.
During my lunch there, I noticed Anis would cover part of the noodles in the wok with a dome-shaped lid which I found out, later on, was a method he adopted from his zi char background. He would then scoop various dark-coloured sauces before mixing them with the noodles.
What I tried at 786 Char Kway Teow
Choosing what to eat at 786 Char Kway Teow was fairly straightforward, with your only option being the size of your Char Kway Teow. My options were limited to Small (S$4), Medium (S$5) and Large (S$6). You can request more cockles for an extra S$2.
A plate of Char Kway Teow had fried egg, bean sprouts and a couple of cockles and fish cake slices. Strangely, I couldn’t find some greens as seen in some pictures online, which is a shame as I thought it would add not only colour but also texture to the dish.
It was apparent after my first bite that this was probably one of the most authentic char kway teow I’ve ever had— or at least it tasted different than the ones I had before. It had a unique wokhei flavour that was imparted by the cooking method used.
That distinct smokiness taste was what kept me going. I also appreciated how well-cooked the noodle was, with just the right amount of chew!
It had a comfortable level of spiciness that complemented the savoury soy sauce flavours. I recommend leaving the chilli in as it provides a break from the rich taste. The bean sprouts also added a much-needed crunchy texture, though some might find it too raw.
I wish there was an option to add more fish cakes, as I thought an extra amount of protein would really elevate the dish. It’s obviously not homemade but still was a pleasant addition. It had a unique QQ texture that was different than what the noodles provided.
I’ve never been a fan of cockles, be it on kway teow or on their own. I found that they have a metallic taste that I just can’t vibe with. I left it on my plate as I thought the mixture of sauces and textures would change my mind. Unfortunately, it didn’t, but for cockles lovers, this would probably do you good as there was quite a fair bit of it.
I wonder if you’d get a discount if you asked for no cockles.
I was so satisfied with the meal that I tabao-ed a large one. It was approximately 4 hours after my having lunch there and the packed char kway teow was still warm. The minute I opened the packet, a familiar wokhei smell filled my room (yes, I am a hermit) as if Anis cooked it there.
Eating the large portion, I realised that you can easily get jelak but then again you’re probably expected to share with portions like this.
I don’t think you can get any halal char kway teow as authentic as the ones at 786 Char Kway Teow. It ticks all the boxes of any halal variation of a beloved dish, such as having it made by a convert and someone who knows what an authentic version of the dish is supposed to taste like.
It is also very affordable, with even the smallest plate filling me up when I hadn’t eaten anything the whole day. It’s also fuss-free! You either get authentic Char Kway Teow or nothing.
This is a new dawn for halal char kway teow!
Expected damage: S$4 – S$6 per pax
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