Best Char Koay Kak (Fried Radish Cake) MacAlister Lane Penang
My all-time favorite breakfast indulgence is Penang Char Koay Kak (Fried Radish Cake).
This is a Teochew-style snack made of rice cake.
I’ve been eating from this pushcart in MacAlister Road since I was a child.
Many visitors to Penang will make a beeline for Char Koay Teow but for me, the cousin dish, the Char Koay Kak has more bite!
The pushcart Char Koay Kak stall was started by Yeoh Joo Seng in 1963. This is the most aromatic, soy-infused delicious, cholesterol-laden treat.
When senior Yeoh cooked the dish, he used lard oil, of course.
Today the stall is operated by the Eoh sisters. Guat Lan and Guat Hoon take turns to fry up the delicious treat every morning.
I’ve tried both sisters cooking and I assure you there is no difference in the “Ko Cha Bi” authentic taste.
The little pushcart stall is enveloped with delicious smoky hot soy fumes as the sisters fry away. Every time I go, I’ll do the Penang thing and wave to the Eoh sisters.
They, in turn, would smile in acknowledgment. Street food vendors in Penang recognize their regulars and remember our orders.
Normally I will stand away from downwind and chat with them as they continue to fry away with rising smoky hot soy fumes.
What is Char Koay Kak?
Penang Char Koay Kak (Fried Radish Cake) is usually eaten as a breakfast or even supper snack. Its preparation is almost similar to Penang’s iconic Char Koay Teow.
Instead of flat thin noodles, rice cake cubes are for this dish. These cubes are fried in a huge flat cast iron frying pan rather than a wok.
The ingredients are simple enough to replicate at home.
Char Koay Kak Recipe
- Cubes of steamed rice cakes
- Preserved radish bits
- Bean sprouts
- Chili paste,
- Soy sauce,
- Bits of lard crackling
You knock an egg in the mixture for added creaminess and protein and you have a dish worth queuing for.
The Eoh sisters have replaced the lard oil with vegetable oil for this snack.
I have known the Eoh sisters since they took over the business. When I asked how does it feel to be working and being together every day for the past 50 years, eldest sister Guat Eng says, “Our father started this business and now that he’s gone, he’s left it to his daughters to soldier on!”
Eldest sister Guat Eng is nearby selling “Otak Otak” (a Nyonya delicacy).
How to order Char Koay Kak?
The standard is with or without egg and extra chili.
My order is extra bean sprouts, chives, radish bits, a little chili and lots of chopped charred soy infused bits! With extra egg knocked in of course.
Making a Deluxe Version of Char Koay Kak
There are some stalls that sell a premium version of this dish with seafood.
For my home-cooked version, I make a “deluxe” version with duck eggs, prawns, sweet pickled radish bits, mung bean sprouts and extra chives (kuchai).
I love the slight garlicky fragrance of kuchai. This makes the dish look more attractive with some green in the mix.
Pushcart Outside Seow Fong Lye Cafe
94C, Lorong MacAlister, Penang
Opening hours: 7.30 am – 1.00 pm Days off not fixed