DINING AT: CHANTEEN AT HWKR
Wondering where to find the best Char Kway Teow in Melbourne?
The characteristics of finding the best Malaysian food, as told by Malaysians, are strict. There's the Malaysian way of knowing if something will meet the impossibly high standard of food that is in essence, the cheapest, oiliest street food you may ever come across. That's Malaysians for you.
So what are the prerequisites?
A key one is usually that it is made by a Malaysian - unfortunately for this particular aspect there's just no substitute (unless perhaps many years immersed in the culture...). Be it the simple yet profoundly critical act of the chef bringing in to the workplace their wok from home - grease and all - its symbolic of the understanding that cooking in this South-East Asian street-style isn't at all about the meticulous, near-clinical, process-oriented manner of running a usual kitchen, rather its about letting flavour express itself through lifetimes of the same dish cooked over and over. It's the smokiness and grittiness that is adds the 'char' to 'char kway teow'. And that's another characteristic of the generational-style cooking of Malaysian food. Malaysian recipes don't often change. You can rest comfortably assured that if you enter a Malaysian restaurant here or 'back home' in Malaysia (I was born in Penang, an island of Malaysia), you're going to have a reminiscent menu that doesn't stray far from classics and very rarely into 'experimental' territory - be that now or 10, 20, or 50 years ago.
Now that I've shared with you some of the Malaysian ways of eating this simple yet extraordinarily tasty cuisine - it is very much marked by the diversity of ingredients and sauces - I'm sharing with you where you can find the best Char Kway Teow. As told by true Malaysians. Now that's saying something!
I recently took my family to Chanteen, the street-food hawker style brainchild of Diana Chan - 2017 Masterchef winner. To say the char kway teow, satay and pork belly were well received is an understatement. That's another thing, Malaysians are highly vocal about what's right or wrong about their food.
And so, for all the reasons aforementioned, to say that Diana knows a thing or two about the recipes passed down in her family would be a compliment that pales in comparison to noting that not a single fault could be made about Diana's Char Kway Teow by two notoriously picky Malaysians - my parents!
Nailing the 'taste' of Malaysian staples comes with much controversy. Within the Malaysian culture, its a highly debatable, often discussed topic... all for the love of a dish of slightly charred, flat noodles...