SeeFoon goes in search of the best CKT in Ipoh

by See Foon-Koppen

I have tried for the past 25 years since living in Ipoh to find a Char Kway Teow (CKT) to drool over. Hitherto I have relied on my forays into Penang to get that palate stimulating kick that I grew up with in Singapore.

But being irrevocably loyal to Ipoh which I call home, I am intent on discovering that inimitable “fry up” of flat white rice noodles, bean sprouts, garlic, eggs, which is essentially CKT.

I think I have found it.

Signature Char Kuey Teow
A shrimp free option


Fire King
is as close to my palate as it gets. Jo, the Chef, has been frying CKT for 10 years  when he left the construction business and decided to bring his style of CKT to the Ipoh public.

Jo makes no shortcuts in his CKT. Following a style that harks back to Penang CKT of the 1960’s using the same ingredients,  he grinds his own chili sauce for frying (no market bought chili Bo for him) and fries each plate individually.

He uses duck eggs in his CKT although you can ask for chicken eggs if that is your preference. I prefer duck eggs as the taste is more intense, almost as if you added an extra chicken yolk to your CKT. They are also creamier than chicken eggs, thanks to the larger yolks.

Duck eggs are not for those trying to lower their cholesterol (it has almost 3 times more cholesterol than chicken eggs!) but I always throw caution to the wind and seek out CKT with duck eggs. Interesting to note is that duck eggs have lower carbohydrates than chicken eggs and double the omega 3s. It is also chock full of  Vitamins A and D, fatty acids, choline, folate, and iron than chicken eggs.

Most important of all is that Jo fries his CKT in just the way I like it.

Firstly it has “wok hei”, that  smoky flavour resulting from caramelisation of sugars, Maillard reactions, and smoking oil — all at temperatures well in excess of traditional western cooking techniques.

Secondly you can choose what you wish to add into your CKT. At Fire King, one has a plethora of choices. In addition to the duck egg, you can choose to have Chinese sausage, cockles or ‘Si Ham’ and huge prawns and squid (sotong). Jo’s prawns are very fresh as are the cockles. And because I love cockles, I will always ask for a double helping.

Choose your favorite toppings!

I dislike CKT that is too wet, swimming in oil and soya sauce. Jo fries his perfectly, a balance right in the middle, a treat for my jaded palate.

The one quality that endears me to Fire King is Jo’s willingness to fry it as hot and spicy as I like it. Most stalls I have been to will not entertain me, worrying that I might have smoke coming from out of my head but Jo obligingly acquiesces, and even comes over to ask if it’s hot enough for me. And as I mentioned earlier, his chili is homemade, ground from dried chillies.

And to add to the spice factor, there is the dollop of his homemade sambal belacan served with every plate. Chili heaven!

I find that the best time to go is mid morning around 10.30-11am, after the breakfast crowd and  before the early lunch crush.

However, there is also an excellent Kai Si Hor Fun here (different stall) which usually sells out by around 10am. So go earlier if you also want to eat KSHF.

A cool Kai Si Hor Fun to go with the hot Fire King.

Fire King 

Address:
1429, Jalan Prince, Kampung Pasir Pinji Baru, 31650 Ipoh, Perak

Google Maps currently lists the wrong location for Fire King. You can use the address above or search for ‘Wing Fat Xiaochao Restaurant’ instead.

Operating Hours – 7am to 2pm Daily.
Do call in advance as they do close for around 2 days every 2 weeks.
Owner (Jo – 011-11123387)

A fire kingdom of cuisine.

 

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