Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mr.Ho's Char Kueh Teow

Char kueh teow (ckt) over lunch at a nondescript stall holed in a corner of PJ. I have been eating in this place, Mr. Ho's, for over 10 years. It certainly is not the best ckt in town.

There are much more eulogized ones. When I do have a craving for a good plate, where the fluffy noodle, slathered in oil, soya sauce and eggs glides gently to tickle the taste buds and explode in a joyous symphony, accompanied by a heady note of cockles and prawns, I take a two hour drive up north to Ipoh. There, a bright coffee shop in the Old Town sells the best char keuh teow in Malaysia (subjective of course). Go there slightly after 1 in the afternoon and return empty stomached for the stall owners would be clearing out already.

Coming back to Mr. Ho's ckt. I really don't know what his name is but mentally called the thin, moustachioed noodle seller Mr. Ho years ago. Because he looked like a Mr. Ho type. You know the ones who are brisk and no-nonsense, always gruff, unsmiling and cursing under their breath. But with really nice hearts. That Mr. Ho type. Over the past decade, Mr.Ho has consistently served me with ckt that is too oily, with too much soy sauce, little or no prawns, and always slightly burnt.

In the early days, I attempted to explore a few other places during the PJ lunch hour but realized that I was wasting my time. Something to do with the water, another connoisseur quietly told me. Water makes a difference in the rice noodles and that's why the thick, flat noodles from up north, shaped with rice flour and clear water from the hills, taste so divine. The years when I worked in another part of town, I tried various other ckt stalls. Still, something felt not right. I've come to realize that it may not be the noodle as much as Mr. Ho.

The gruff Mr. Ho smiles some days when he recognizes me. Or gives me that glint of familiarity. And I tell you, for some strange reason, it makes such a difference. He has seen me with ex-friends, ex-boyfriends, current friends, my sisters, my parents and the one husband I now have. In a funny way, Mr. Ho's ckt has been the one constant in my life. And it always smells of how work day lunches should be.

14 comments:

may said...

dang, you got me craving for CKT at 8:50 in the morning!

ok Jane Sunshine, time to share information! where can I find this scrumpitous plate of CKT fried by Mr. Ho?

The Box said...

The only Mr. Ho I know is the one that operates in Bangsar Shopping Complex selling all kinds of meat products. He's also opened one in Midvalley where you can eat dinner as well - tables and waiters too. But I reckon if you're going to eat in a place where the meat freezer's right next to you, Eurodeli (Damansara Kim) is the best bit. Yum!

Ewok said...

dear jane,
I'm a fan of CKT and mee curry. Since you got me craving and drooling for it, I hold you responsible. Aiya... Where the heck in London am I to find Mr. Ho? You tell me. heheheh..

Sunrayz said...

What a lovely post :) Just warmed my heart...

Kak Teh said...

jane, thanks for the company last night. although it was nothing as near as Mr's Ho's - the company was something else!
tumpanglalu, ewok, curry mee? I know where to take you.

Jane Sunshine said...

May: Read carefully. Mr.Ho's CKT leaves much to be desired. Ha ha ha.

The Box: I know that guy, Mr. Ho's Fine Foods, ya? The last time I went back, I saw that he had one outlet in Midvalley. Eurodeli I dont know but will go into my to be checked out list.

Ewok: Babes, the one in Oriental City is not bad at all (though the portions are huuuuggggee). As well as the teh tarik, nasi lemak and kuih-muih. We can make a trip when you want.

Jane Sunshine said...

Sunrayz: Oh, I must introduce you to the delights of Malaysian food one day!!!

Kak Teh: We had such a lovely, lovely time. Felt nice to be part of the family gathering. Those children of yours are absolutely charming. But 'tis natural, they must have picked it up from the parents. Here's wishing AG again for a great year ahead. And for our Dinner Club to meet more regularly.

simah said...

hi...

CKT..cant remember the last time i had that...terliurnyaaaaaa

Ms.B said...

I don't know if you're aware, but tucked away in a corner shop in the recesses of Kelana Jaya, overlooking the FAS building, there is this hodge-podgey restaurant called "Subang Ria". There you won't find a Mr. Ho plying his ckt, but a rotund Mrs. Ho with the same unsmiling face, grunts of acknowledgement or scowling nods at taking our orders, and magical hand, wok and metal skillet which conjures up a pretty mean ckt. Give it a shot!!

And cairo thus far has been this - sand, sand and more sand. *laughs*

I want a hainanese chicken rice.

Awang Goneng said...

Hi Jane (and John) Sunshine!

It was a very lovely surprise to see you both at my annual '+1' dinner. I thought it was going to be the usual cosy family affair, but it turned out to be even better. I had a whale (and a lobster) of a time, thanks to you all!

30in2005 said...

Hi Jane,
Even though I have no clue what CKT is your post made my mouth water for some of it. Such is the power of the written word. It sounds marvellous. Any available in London?

Jane Sunshine said...

Simah: I know. Just the thought makes me terleleh leleh. Ha ha ha.

Blabs: Now I know where to head next time I'm back. Kelana Jaya is very convenient from where I am. Hope you enjoyed Cairo. More stories girl!

AG: The pleasure is ours. And the lobster...something to be regaled over many, many years down the road! Here's to more Dinner Club escapades!

30in20005: I have found a few very authentic ones but the best is probably in Oriental City Mall(formerly Yaohan Mall) near North London. In fact, I am taking some folks there this weekend to introduce them to the joys of Malaysian food. You can join us!!!

30in2005 said...

Thanks for the offer Jane. I have a prior committments this weekend else I might have seriously considered tagging along! Good to know of the place though - what tube station if I may ask?

Jane Sunshine said...

30in2005: I think the closest tube is Colindale -not sure which line though or how far it is. I've only driven there.