I placed my order at my favorite char kway teow stall.
The uncle heats up his worn cast iron wok. With a well-practiced hand, he portions out the right amount of noodles, all the while keeping an eye on the smoking oil.
The noodles hit the wok in loud sizzle as the charcoal flames lick its sides, fiercely charring the noodles and giving it that signature ‘wok hei’ – the hallmark of any good plate of char kway teow.
He deftly cracks in an egg, throws in the seafood. A mesmerizing sequence of sauces, seemingly random but really is a closely guarded trade secret.
A handful of chives and bean sprouts, a few more tosses for good measure and soon the noodles were served, piping hot on a bright orange plastic plate lined with banana leaf.
The plate of noodles sits before me, its fragrant smokey smell wafting, inviting.
I can see that it was packed full of ‘liao’ or ingredients. Springy fishcake and briny cockles, prawns bursty and sweet. If the uncle at your regular char kway teow stall is kind, he will be generous with the pork lard as well.
The char kway teow was delicious but something was wrong – and I don’t quite know what it is.
I poked and prod but all’s how it should be. Then I saw the seat before me.
What good is all this delicious food if there is no one to share it with?
Outram Park Fried Kway Teow
Hong Lim Market & Food Centre
531A Upper Cross Street Singapore 051531