‘Koay teow th’ng’: A bowl of warm comfort

Picture by K.E. Ooi
Picture by K.E. Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 3 — On rainy days, a steaming bowl of koay teow th’ng (koay teow soup) never fails to warm your belly with its light smooth noodles in a savoury soup.

Surprisingly, even on stifling hot and humid days, a bowl of this clear soup-based dish proves the perfect meal to soothe parched throats and cool rising temperatures.

So, a bowl of koay teow th’ng can be eaten in the mornings for breakfast, afternoons for lunch or evenings for a light dinner. It is also a popular choice for a light snack in the afternoon or for supper.

Due to its silken smooth noodles and warming soup, this is one dish that’s suitable for those feeling under the weather as well, for young children and/or simply those yearning for some warm comforting food.

A good bowl of koay teow th’ng must consist of the compulsory silken smooth, flat rice noodles, fish balls, strips of shredded chicken, pork or duck, minced pork, sliced fish cake, some pork innards and some greens as garnishing.

This is one dish where the pale, plain look belies the multi-flavoured tastes in its clear broth.

The soup base may be clear and watery but it is a concoction that is derived from simmering pork ribs in a pot of water over a slow fire to extract the rich meaty flavours from the ribs.

Alternatively, some stalls use chicken stock where the chicken carcass is simmered over a low fire; seasoned with some salt, pepper, onion and garlic.

The pork ribs or chicken used to cook the clear broth is then removed, shredded and set aside to be served with the noodles later.

Koay teow th’ng is best served freshly prepared as the fresh flat rice noodles will first be scalded, rinsed off in cold water and then dunked into the pot of boiling broth before it is set aside in a bowl.

Next comes the fish balls and sliced fish cake. These will be added to the broth until fully cooked, adding another layer of flavours to the soup base.

Once the fish balls are cooked and bobbing in the broth, the soup is ladled over the waiting noodles and the dish is then garnished with the shredded chicken or pork and some greens consisting of chopped spring onions and lettuce.

The resulting dish is a full-flavoured clear soup rich in a variety of tastes and textures.

It is a strong meat-flavoured soup with just the slightest hint of the sea from the fish balls complemented by the smooth rice noodles while the bits of meat and fresh greens give the whole concoction some crunch and bite.

Koay teow th’ng is a rather common hawker food at many hawker stalls and coffee shops in Malaysia.

Here are some koay teow th’ng stalls to try out in Penang:

1. Fook Cheow Cafe, Jalan Hutton

GPS: 5.421381,100.328412

Time: 7am-1pm

2. Lebuh Kimberley

GPS: 5.415709,100.33402

Time: 8am-noon

3. Cafe Fountain, Lebuh Carnavon

GPS: 5.414139,100.333057

Time: 6pm-midnight

4. Cecil Street market hawker center

GPS: 5.407645,100.328795

Time: 9am-6pm

5. Lebuh Clarke

GPS: 5.420836,100.331392

Time: 8am-1pm