Some say that Guan Kee Fried Kway Teow, or more commonly referred to as the famous Ghim Moh Char Kway Teow, is the best char kway teow in Singapore. What is clear is that this char kway teow stall is one of the superstars at the Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre. Look for the stall with the longest queue and it is usually at Guan Kee. If there is a longer queue elsewhere, chances are, it is because they are closed as they only open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. We finally had a chance to try this famous Ghim Moh char kway teow recently.
The chef at the Guan Kee Fried Kway Teow stall is an elderly gentleman who cooks the prized char kway teow at his own pace. Never mind that the queue has more than 20 people in it. There is a very well made video about Guan Kee (including an interview which traces the origins of the stall and explains why cooking should not be hurried) in the Guan Kee Facebook page (link below).
The kway teow is cooked in two stages. The first round of cooking is to pre-cook a pile of kway teow which is big enough for about 15 plates. This lot is then set aside and used to cook the individual portions based on the specifics of the order. The worst thing that can happen is to almost reach the head of the queue and the guy in front buys up all the pre-cooked noodles. Time to check emails while waiting for another cooking cycle.
Here is a picture of a $5 packet of the famous Ghim Moh char kway teow. It felt heavy and substantial.
It looks better when transferred to a plate. It contains the usual ingredients, kway teow, egg, cockles, lap cheong and fried pork lard. All char kway teow stalls use more or less the same ingredients. It makes us wonder why do some achieve legendary status while others stay unknown? What is so special about Guan Kee that makes people stand in line for 30 minutes when there are many other viable lunch options in the same market? There was only one way to find out.
We were expecting some knockout kind of smell and/or taste. There was none. This was not the kind of dish that scores on a high level of wok hei or a powerful flavour. What makes it different form other stalls is balance. There was a good balance of flavours. There was no prominent flavour such as overpowering sweet soy sauce which occurs too frequently. Another secret may lie in the stock that was used in the process of frying. It is probably the thing that ties in the tastes of cockles, Chinese sausage and generous amount of pork lard. Overall, it was not a CKT with a blockbuster taste, but one with a pleasant, smooth temperament. Definitely enjoyable and highly recommended (especially for those that have not tried it before), but whether I would queue that long for this in the near future will depend on how hungry I am.
Guan Kee Fried Kway Teow
#01-19 Ghim Moh Road Market & Cooked Food Centre
20 Ghim Moh Road