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Best Char Koay Kak (Fried Radish Cake) MacAlister Lane Penang

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Best Char Koay Kak (Fried Radish Cake) MacAlister Lane Penang

MacAlister Lane, Penang

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 stall 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!

Yeoh Joo Seng started the pushcart Char Koay Kak stall in 1963. This is the most aromatic, soy-infused delicious, cholesterol-laden treat.

When senior Yeoh cooked the dish, he used lard oil.

The Eoh sisters, Guat Lan and Guat Hoon take turns to fry up the delicious treat every morning.

I’ve tried both sister’s cooking and I assure you there is no difference in the “Ko Cha Bi” authentic taste.

It envelops the little pushcart stall 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 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?

Penangites eat Char Koay Kak (Fried Radish Cake) for breakfast or even a supper snack.

The preparation is almost similar to Penang’s iconic Char Koay Teow.

Instead of flat thin noodles, radish cake – the steamed rice cake cubes are used for this dish. They fry these cubes 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
  • Garlic
  • Preserved radish bits
  • Bean sprouts
  • Egg
  • Chili paste,
  • Soy sauce
  • Chives
  • Lard
  • 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!”
The eldest sister Guat Eng is nearby selling “Otak Otak” (a Nyonya delicacy).

How to order Char Koay Kak?

Penang Char Koay Kak standard portion is without egg. The rice cake cubes are fried with bean sprouts, preserved radish bits, chili paste, soy sauce, and chives.

Nowadays, not all vendors add chives to the dish.

My order is with the extra bean sprouts, chives, radish bits, a little chili, and lots of chopped charred soy infused bits! I like an extra egg to make it creamier! Some foodies like to have double eggs for a creamier texture.

If you haven’t tried Char Koay Kak before I will suggest go with the egg if you are a vegetarian. You can omit the egg out.

Some hawker still use lard oil but most have changed it to vegetable (palm oil).

Best Char Koay Kak (Fried Radish Cake) MacAlister Lane Penang_Banana Leaf
This Teochew-style snack is something you can only find in Penang, made of rice cake and not radish cakes, as some are lead to believe.

Best Char Koay Kak (Fried Radish Cake) MacAlister Lane Penang_Push Cart

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 aroma of Chives. This makes the dish look more attractive to add 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 are not fixed.

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