Koay Teow Theng (阿海粿條汤) Kedai Makanan Kim Lee – Macalister Lane
In George Town, Penang, the locals love a soupy Koay Teow Theng (阿海粿條汤) as much as they love Char Koay Teow (炒粿條).
The culture of street food is protected by a bastion of invincible hawkers like Khaw Khar Hai fondly known as Uncle Ah Hai. He is 84 and has been dishing up steaming bowls of soupy Koay Teow Theng since I was a child.
Old timers like Uncle Ah Hai takes pride in keeping with traditional recipes, cooking and preparing food as it should be.
Uncle Ah Hai’s Indomitable Spirit
His indomitable spirit is the reminiscence of American author Ernest Hemingway’s novel, The Old Man and the Sea. He struggles not with a giant marlin but with old age as he prepares and plies his trade daily alone since 1970.
The Original Stall
His original stall was at Siew Fong Lye Coffee shop on Burma Road for 16 years before Hong Leong Bank bought over the pre-war houses and built a new 4-Storey Office Block at the site.
I remember Uncle Ah Hai as a child from the old Hainanese Kopitiam, Hai Onn on Jalan Burma.
He was there for 20 years before shifting to Kim Lee Coffee Shop, a pre-war building at Lorong MacAlister where he has been operating for the past decade.
His Koay Teow Th’ng stall has been in this vicinity since the Japanese Occupation from his father’s time.
The Soup Stock is made from scratch
Slowly but surely, he starts his morning by making a sweet soup broth from simmering old hens, duck, pork bone and white turnips.
The result is a traditionally deep full-bodied soup that is delicious and cannot be replicated from a stock cube.
This soup is the base for George Town’s old-time perennial favorite, the bland, pale looking noodle dish Koay Teow Th’ng.
Uncle Ah Hai is perpetually almost bent over with old age.
He still toils to set up his stall. He prepares the ingredients, cooks, cleans and washes up by himself.
The simple Koay Teow Th’ng is served with shredded meats, organ meats, and fish balls. It is garnished with chopped scallions, a bit of garlic infused lard oil.
Other condiments are light soy sauce, sliced green chili padi and a dash of white pepper.
A must try simple soft comfort food that’s delicious and light.
Do give this a try before Uncle Ah Hai decides to retire one day. Penang would have lost yet another great heritage noodle dish.
Update: Uncle Ah Hai has passed on. The stall is run by a couple and the taste is not quite the same anymore. I’m glad I had my bowl of Koay Teow Th’ng about a year before he passed on.
May he rest in peace.
Ah Hai Koay Teow Th’ng | Kedai Makanan Kim Lee, 100, Lorong Macalister, Penang (behind Hong Leong Bank Jalan Burma)
Business Hours: 7.30 am to 1.30 pm (Mon-Sun)
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