“Vanakkam!” A friendly voice boomed as I walked into Melawis Fried Kuey Teow.
I blinked, confused. I looked at the stall’s sign board for reassurance. I was in the right place. Relief washed over me (my previous visit here was unfruitful as the restaurant was closed).
“I grew up eating this!” A friend commented excitedly when I shared that I was having my breakfast there. Fun fact, this little kopitiam is practically an institution for folks who grew up in Klang— it’s known for having served countless plates of char kway teow since 1970.
The friendly employee (which I discovered later was Ng’s son) showed me a card. On it were colourful boxes to tick off: bean sprouts, cockles, pork lard. You can also have your char kway teow with a fried egg on the side. I had no qualms about my ingredients. I looked at him and said “Everything you have and spicy, please”. I took my seat. It was only 10am but the morning crowd was already there, slurping down strands of kuey teow in between bouts of laughter.
And there he was, 83-year-old Mr Ng Seng Kiat— the man, the myth, the legend standing behind the flaming wok, tossing the glistening noodles at an astonishing speed.
What I tried at Melawis Fried Kuey Teow
When my plate arrived, the first thing that caught my attention was the dark colour of the Fried Kway Teow (RM10). I found out later it was because this is known as ‘black’ char kway teow, a variation that was different from the char kway teow in Penang. To simply put it, Penang hawkers use light soya sauce, while he uses dark soya sauce. And each strand of kway teow at Melawis Fried Kuey Teow bore the beautiful sear marks of the wok. Truly the work of a master!. I was excited to start.
I took my first bite and there it was— an incredible amount of wok hei, giving a delightful smokiness to the noodles. This was followed by a decent dose of heat and a slightly greasy after taste. I savoured every bite of the noodles. The crunchy bean sprouts were also an added treat but the highlight would have to be the little nuggets of pork lard. It was one the crunchiest, tastiest pork lards I’ve ever had in a plate of char kway teow.
I have to admit I wished the cockles were slightly larger so I could have enjoyed them with more gusto and the all too familiar lap cheong was sadly nowhere to be found. Bummer!
However, I found myself smiling when I reached the last bits of kway teow on the plate. Why? There was a small rectangular sheet of banana leaf at the bottom. I only know of Penang hawkers who practise this tradition, which is intended to enhance the aroma of the dish.
As I sipped on my Chinese tea in an attempt to wash away the greasiness, I watched as Mr Ng headed to each of the tables to chat with his customers. It was a lovely sight. Right before I took my leave, I asked one of Mr Ng’s sons if I could take a photograph of him. He smiled, saying “Of course! Everyone wants to take a picture with him.” (Yes, I ended up taking a photograph with him as well). Mr Ng was rather shy at first but very quickly became comfortable and we started a friendly conversation.
In his broken Bahasa Melayu, Mr Ng showed me a photograph of a family on his mobile phone and asked if I knew who they were. They were huge fans of his char kway teow. I grinned and said yes, I was familiar with them as they were popular vloggers. He smiled in return and gave me a thumbs up.
Even though I was miles away from Penang, it felt like I was right at home in that little kopitiam. Never would I expect that this little neighbourhood in Klang with a playground right in the middle would house a char kway teow legacy, filling the stomachs of families for decades. Trust me when I say I’ll be returning soon— the warmth of Mr Ng was really the icing on the cake.
Expected damage: RM10 per pax
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