Funnily enough, I never used to love kway chap, as I often found it veering on the funkier side of things. It was only thanks to this job that I realised kway chap, once cleaned and cooked right, could be incredibly delicious. Teaching me exactly that was Hakka Lau Wei, a humble kway chap stall located in a quiet coffee shop along Guillemard Road in Geylang.
Hakka Lau Wei is run by John Lau, a buff man who was expertly chopping braised meat when I visited the stall on a quiet Thursday. Though barely 3 months old, Hakka Lau Wei has been garnering a slow but steady following online thanks to its unique Hakka-style kway chap.
The kway chap that Singaporeans know and love is Teochew-based, with a strong savoury broth that comes with flat, broad rice sheets (aka kway) and your choice of braised innards. Hakka Lau Wei’s family recipe varies, as it originated from John’s great-grandfather, who came from Shanwei, China, and migrated to Malaysia and began selling kway chap there.
The result: A sweeter braise, a herbal-ish broth and thinner noodles, aka kway teow kia.
What I tried at Hakka Lau Wei
Hakka Lau Wei’s menu is impressively extensive, with over 30 items ranging from individual braised parts such as Braised Pig Ear (S$3/S$5) to rice sets like Economic Braised Pork Rice (S$2.50) and Braised Beef Rice (S$8.80).
As I came with Aaron, my fellow colleague, we decided to get the All Pork Organs Platter (S$8/S$15), which came with 6 different types of braised meat: Big Intestine, Small Intestine, Pig Ear, Pig Head, Pig Heart and Pig Tongue.
As folks who’ve only eaten the traditional types of kway chap, we were unfamiliar with the rarer cuts like ear, head, heart and tongue, so we were excited to give it a try.
Out of all 6 parts, the Pig Ear turned out to be Aaron’s favourite, partly due to its novelty, and also partly because of its texture. While there wasn’t much flavour in the gelatinous, jelly-like exterior, the white-coloured cartilage on the inside was crunchy, almost like soft bones.
My personal favourite was the Big Intestine. It had a great texture— slightly spongy and chewy, like tau pok, while still being fat and meaty. The best part was its absorbent nature, meaning that it would soak in all that glorious savoury yet sweet braised liquid, resulting in a flavour bomb in your mouth.
One thing that Aaron and I agreed on was that the innards were all cleaned incredibly well, with mild to zero funkiness that’s normally associated with kway chap.
This was my first time trying unique cuts like Pig Heart and Pig Head, and admittedly, I wasn’t a huge fan of both.
The Pig Heart was tougher than I expected. I thought it’d be like chicken heart or liver, but it was neither. Instead, it resembled tough chicken breast. As for the Pig Head, I didn’t enjoy the skin’s bristly exterior texture. However, Aaron had a different take, and he ended up loving the Pig Head for its gelatinous and soft underside.
You can choose to pair your braised innards with Rice Noodle (S$1), which is available in both soup and dry versions.
This was most interesting, as most kway chap places only offered kway with soup. This was the first time I came across a kway chap place offering a dry version as well as kway teow kia, and I was keen to see how it’d turn out.
This is most definitely not the kway chap we’re used to. Herbal, fragrant, with a light pepperiness, Hakka Lau Wei’s broth reminded me of Malaysian bak kut teh.
It’s unusual to say the least, but not unenjoyable. I liked its light herbaceousness, which paired well with the strongly flavoured braised innards, but found myself craving a stronger savoury punch.
I highly recommend that you try Hakka Lau Wei’s dry Rice Noodle. Though it looks plain, give it a good mix and watch as the dish is transformed in front of your own eyes.
This was silky kway teow kia tossed with black sauce and shallot oil, creating a smoky yet savoury bowl of noodles that instantly transported both Aaron and myself to Malaysia. Super underrated and incredibly delicious. Must-try!
The last thing we tried from Hakka Lau Wei was its Pork Lard Rice (S$2.50). This was a sinful bowl of white rice topped with a soft-boiled egg, a dash of braised liquid, and plenty of deep-fried pork lard bits.
To eat this, simply break the yolk and give the rice a good stir.
This was a dish that hit it out of the park— fluffy, soft and moist white rice, with smoky and umami-filled pork lard bits that infused every bite. The pork lard was crispy and addictive, while the egg yolk combined everything together.
Undeniably, this got too salty after a while, but it was so good that I couldn’t stop eating.
Hakka Lau Wei’s herbal kway might’ve not been up my alley, but I loved its dry kway, which was tossed in fragrant shallot oil and dark sauce. Pair that with your choice of braised innards, which was cleaned expertly and had minimal funk, for a sinful yet utterly satisfying meal that didn’t break the bank at all.
I look forward to visiting John again for another wallet-friendly yet delicious meal. See you soon, John!
Expected damage: S$2.50 – S$10 per pax
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