Char Kuey Teow is one of the many hawker food most of us will get our foreign friends to try if they are in Singapore as the taste and flavours are uniquely Singapore. Since it is almost like a National dish, you can find 1 store selling char kuey teow in almost every single hawker center or food court. The more popular stores like the one in old airport hawker or hong lim food center will almost always render a queue of minimum 30 mins.
While this store looks very sparse and humble, Hai Kee has quite a following from the time Uncle Loh had his store at the now demolished Margaret drive hawker center. Uncle has been frying char kuey teow since the 1960s with charcoal and a pushcart and he has his own style and principles in frying the plate of kuey teow despite a long queue of customers waiting.
Back at the Margaret drive hawker, his wife used to help him out with the packing and cash but since shifting to Telok Blangah Crescent food center, it has been a one man operation which explains the long queue. Uncle will take the orders and start frying the kuey teow plate by plate and not by order to have a better control on the quality of his dish and this is probably the main reason behind the long wait.
While the store is plastered with plenty of food awards, the uncle is always friendly and cheerful with a smile when he takes your orders. Even with a long queue of customers, he will not hesitate to stop and have a quick chat with regulars while packing the noodles at the same time.
Due to the time taken to fry every single pack of noodles, there is a maximum of 10 packets for takeaway orders per customer to prevent bulk orders and hold up the rest of the queue.
I happened to be on leave when I spotted only 3 people in the queue and quickly ran to my spot as the 4th person and this was around 530 or 545 pm when the store had just opened. I still waited for a good 30 to 45 mins for 2 packets of char kuey teow. When I was leaving, there was already at least 7 people in the queue while is a common sight every evening.
For only SGD 4 per packet, the serving was very generous. My dad was a regular when the store was still at Margaret drive but we seldom had the chance to queue after he shifted to the current location. Personally, comparing the flavours from the time in Margaret Drive, the standards have definitely dropped slightly due to Uncle’s age and the toil of handling the stall all by himself.
The fact that Uncle fries every single plate and packet on their own, the consistency is a little different plate to plate and packet to packet. The basic wok hei ( heat of the wok) is definitely still good in the noodles giving it a nice charred aroma. It might not be the best kuey teow but it has wonderful taste of nostalgia which cannot be replicated by another store who has not been through days of charcoal and push cart hawker days. It is therefore not fair to be judging this plate of goodness by mushiness of noodles or sweetness of the sauce. With that flavour, personally, it beats the rest hands down.
Address: 11 Telok Blangah Cres, #01-102, Singapore 090011
Operating hours: 5.30 pm to 9 pm ( 4 pm to 9 pm on Sat and closed on Sun)