Food-loving Malaysians have been known to debate the best local food spots for hours. Tan Chooi Hong, hunched over a blazing hot wok, hadn’t broken a sweat. Flames from the charcoal sparked and danced up the side of the wok, crackling as he added the ingredients one by one, just as his father taught him almost 60 years ago. Char kway teow, Malaysia’s most famous street food, is a simple rice noodle dish made with soy sauce, eggs, cockles, bean sprouts, Chinese sausage and a couple of shrimp. It’s common throughout the country – devoured at roadside stalls or feasted on at hawker centres – but there is only one “king” of char kway teow, and he’s in Penang. Uncle Tan, as he’s known, is a sturdy 79-year-old with a shock of white hair and an all-knowing glimmer in his eye. He’s been cooking this single dish from a wok-cart attached to a bicycle and pushed into place on the side of Siam Road in central George Town for decades. “I don’t remember how old I was when I started. But char kway teow is all I know,” said Uncle Tan.
Uncle Tan’s unlikely fame began in 2012 when he was interviewed by a local who put the story on Facebook. His decades of cooking experience, combined with layered flavours of smoky-unctuous noodles perfectly balanced with the salty-sweet Chinese sausage, quickly got the younger generation of foodies salivating. Nothing is better than a simple noodle dish with an interesting backstory, and young Penangites ate it up. The article went viral and people began flying to the island just to taste his dish.
In 2015, celebrity chef Martin Yan, known for his Yan Can Cook TV show, visited the stall for his TV show Taste of Malaysia. If that fame didn’t cement Uncle Tan’s title as king, placing 14th (out of 50) at the World Street Food Congress in 2017 certainly did. Today, his roadside wok-cart is a fixture in the food scene and he’s widely revered as serving up the most delicious, flavoursome char kway teow in Malaysia, churning out hundreds of plates a day with people waiting in line for hours.
Uncle Tan is unfazed by his fame and prefers to keep a low profile. Humble and shy, he can’t understand what all the fuss is about and doesn’t think his version is any better than anoyone else’s.
“My dad didn’t go to school to learn any skills. It wasn’t an option. He had to work for his father, so he worked by his side cooking char kway teow every day,” his daughter, Tan Evelyn, told . “And he’s never stopped.”
The ingredients of char kway teow are so simple that it takes a lot of skill to get it right. The main ingredient is flat rice noodles. No self-respecting char kway teow stall would use dried noodles, so Uncle Tan gets bags of the fresh, chewy goodness delivered by scooter regularly.
I watched as he skillfully added one ingredient at a time, just by feel and sight. He threw a large handful of slippery noodles in the blisteringly hot wok and used a wide metal spatula to spin them around in the garlic and lard waiting for them. After pushing the noodles up the side of the pan, he expertly cracked an egg into the middle, breaking it with the spatula to let the yolk ooze into the noodles.
A few soy sauce dashes, a spoonful of chilli sauce and a little water created a silky sauce that the noodles absorbed. Then Uncle Tan tossed in a couple of shrimp and a few slices of sweet lap cheong, or Chinese sausage. Finally, a smattering of cockles got a spin in the wok. He topped it all with a handful of crunchy bean sprouts, chives and small homemade croutons made of crispy pork fat.
He eyed the steaming noodles for the perfect consistency and then scooped them onto a melamine plate and started all over again. The whole process was lightning fast – less than two minutes – and Uncle Tan made it look effortless.
While many stalls use gas, Uncle Tan cooks on charcoal, frying one order at a time for maximum flavour and wok hei, which translates to “breath of the wok”. Wok hei is the smoky depth of flavour that charcoal adds to the dish and is expertly created by cooking the right portion over the right temperature. It’s something that gas heat cannot achieve.
Some people say that charcoal is the secret to Uncle Tan’s success, but, “they like my father’s char kway teow better than others because he’s perfected it over 60 years,” said Evelyn. “Other stalls use charcoal and the same ingredients, but no-one has his skill. Not even my brother Kean Huat who learned from him.”
Others try to attribute Uncle’s success to a secret sauce. “I promise. There is no secret sauce; it’s his wok skill,” said Evelyn. “I also cannot fry as my brother or dad. My brother has been working for years learning from my dad, and his skills are still improving. It takes a lifetime. Just ask my dad.”
“If I give you the same ingredients, you cannot make the same taste as me,” agreed Uncle Tan.
Even though char kway teow has become synonymous with Penang street food, its origins lie in China. In the 19th Century, the Chinese diaspora brought over Teochew and Hokkien people from Guangdong and Fujian provinces on China’s south-eastern coast. During that same time, Penang grew under British rule and it became a bustling entrepot providing greater employment opportunites. The Hokkien people came to work in the rubber plantations and as traders and merchants, while the Teochew found jobs in the tin mines and as fisherman. With them came some of their kitchen staples like soy sauce, bean curd and noodles called kway teow.
In Hokkien, the word char means “stir-fried”, and kway teow means “rice cake strips”, referring to the noodles. What had begun in China’s south-eastern provinces as a simple noodle dish with pork, fish sauce and soy sauce was transformed into a seafood delight once it hit the island’s shores. Initially, it was sold at night by fisherman and cockle gatherers trying to make an extra buck. Instead of the traditional ingredients, they used what was plentiful to create a revised version of the dish. It was a poor man’s food and the other Chinese immigrants devoured it as something fast, cheap and tasty to sustain them for hours under the hot sun. The dish became a labourer’s staple.
“When the waves of Teochew and Hokkien immigrants came from China, they came alone, leaving their wives and families behind. Since there was no-one to cook for them, they survived on cheap street food,” said Nazlina Hussin, a Penangite culinary specialist and author. “From wok to plate, char kway teow takes no time. These men could stop for lunch, eat and be back to work within a few minutes.”
To this day, most of the Chinese in Penang are of Hokkien and Teochew descent. It’s the only place in Malaysia where Hokkien is commonly spoken, which is why char kway teow has remained so closely linked to Penang. And although you can find the dish outside of Penang, locals say it’s not as good unless a Hokkien or Teochew makes it. That’s why people fly here from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and wait in line for hours, in the hot sun, to try Uncle Tan’s char kway teow.
It’s that good.
Plus, he’s one of the oldest char kway teow legends in Malaysia. There is a reverence in that. “Most customers come here for my dad. People say he’s a char kway teow idol. So, if he’s not cooking, they keep on driving,” said Evelyn.
In 2018, for the first time in nearly 60 years, Uncle Tan took a break. On doctor’s orders after cataract surgery, he closed his shop for six months, and his devotees, like those of any idol or guru, went berserk. The whole island almost had a breakdown, with stories in local media lamenting his sudden overnight retirement. “Today we’ve had to endure the greatest loss of mankind,” wrote culinary website Penang Foodie. “Siam Road Char Koay Teow is believed to be closed down for go
Uncle Tan’s son took over for a brief moment and locals weren’t kind to him; Penangites are loyal foodies and they wanted the master’s char kway teow. After six months of ever-more grandiose gossip, “We had to find a place; we couldn’t let the people down,” declared Evelyn. Instead of going back to his original roadside spot, they decided to find a premises on the same street. Today Uncle Tan still cooks from a bike pushcart with a wok attached; it’s just parked in front of his shop.
He’s widely revered as serving up the most delicious, flavoursome char kway teow in Malaysia
“Now, my son and I can take turns cooking. When I get tired, I can sit down and watch Kean Huat try to perfect my dish,” he said with a wink. “It isn’t easy. But he’s a third-generation char kway teow cook, and even though he didn’t start as young as I did, he’ll be able to perfect his skills one day too.”
Uncle Tan’s char kway teow is not only Penang’s history on a plate; it’s his family’s history as well. Hopefully, Kean Huat will live up to his father’s reputation and teach future generations how to follow in the king’s footsteps.
But until then, “I have no plans to retire. As long as I can still stand and cook over the wok, I’ll be here on Jalan Siam,” laughed Uncle Tan.–BBC
Santhosh Narayanan is coming to Jaffna!
“Sounds of the South – Yaazh Gaanam – A Santosh Narayanan Concert”
The biggest musical show in Jaffna will take place on September 30 2023 Tamil music fans from all over Sri Lanka will converge in Jaffna on September 30, 2023, for the biggest musical show in the peninsula. South Indian star Santhosh Narayanan who brought a different sound to Indian cinema will lead a galaxy of Indian and Sri Lankan performers harmoniously blending their talents on stage for a landmark concert from 6 pm at the Muttraveli Grounds adjoining the Jaffna Fort. The concert will be free of charge to anyone who wishes to attend and witness the grand event.
“The concert aims to celebrate the cultural ties between India and Sri Lanka through the universal language of music,” said Santhosh Narayanan. “It is our intention to bring together artistes from both Sri Lanka and India, including local talent from Sri Lanka, to create an unforgettable evening of harmony and unity.”
Santhosh Narayanan has had an array of performances that have earned him a multitude of awards since he made his debut as an independent music director in 2012. Music has no boundaries and the award-winning music director will be reaching out to music enthusiasts not only in Sri Lanka, but all over the world. The concert will also feature independent artists from across the world.
At the launch event held in Colombo recently, Santhosh Narayanan said, “Jaffna is a city with a unique cultural heritage and a rich history of music and art. I’m extremely grateful to the organizers of this event for giving an opportunity to all music lovers to enjoy a blissful evening.”
Taste of Turkiye in Sri Lanka
Turkiye food festival was unveiled at Courtyard by Mariott Hotel Colombo, recently in collaboration with the Embassy of Turkiye in Colombo and Turkish Airlines.This event was aimed to showcase the Turkiye ‘s rich and diverse cuisine to Sri Lanka.
This festival transported the diners to the land of Turkiye in all its magnificance.The event saw a ecclectic crowd of many dignitaries, ambassadors from Malaysia, Pakistan,members of parliament and other distinguished invitees who were present to experience this culinary journey ,
The two guest chefs Volkan Gur and Eren Barishan who were specially flown down used premium quality ingredients and delicacies, giving the diners an extraordinary experience of Turkish food,to compliment the moulhwatering dishes, a variety of Turkish desserts such as Backlova, walnut pudding and more were delightfully presented.
The General Manager of the Colombo Mariott Elton Hurtis said “We are thrilled to be able to bring international flavours from Turkiye and partner with the Embassy of Turkiye . Turkish Airlines and Mariott Bonvoy hotel in Turkiye.
The highlight of the evening was the speech made by the Ambassador of Turkiye Demet Sekercioglu. Excerpt
“At the opening speech she said. Tonight we celebrate one of the most vibrant elements of our cultural heritage: the Turkish cuisine.As a cuisine that has engaged with numerous civilizations throughout its centuries-old aculinary journey, the doors of Turkish cuisine open to the experiences of different religions, cultures and ethnicities living together.
I believe this unique feature of diversity makes Turkish Cuisine loved by food connoisseurs not only in Turkiye but also around the world.Turkiye boasts a rich gastronomic culture, with her culinary practices seamlessly reflecting her humanity, tolerance and aspiration for peace.
In today’s world where technology and urbanization foster disconnection and isolation, you can be sure that you will find a unique warmth and welcome at every door you knock on, in Anatolia.Our unmatched hospitality is demonstrated by the place we reserve to our guests on our table. We consider them as the Guest of God and cherish them as such.
Turkish culinary culture has also wonderful traditions in further fostering family and friendship bonds. We expect our family elders and guests to take the first bite. We even make sure they sit, right in the centre where they can be the heart of our gathering.In short, our meal times are a beautiful display of our love, generosity, solidarity and the joy of sharing life’s best moments.
Another remarkable aspect of our culinary tradition are the centuries-old recipes that heal both body and soul. The nutriments, herbs and spices grown in the rich Anatolian lands have been used not only for the treatment of diseases but also for their prevention, recipes have been formulated together with physicians.
But the magic of our cuisine doesn’t stop there. In a world grappling with the pressing issue of food insecurity, Turkish culinary tradition stands also as a solution to this global challenge. In fact, in Turkish cuisine almost every part of a product is used in the preparation of various dishes.In this respect, the principles of Turkish cuisine are in line with the basic philosophy of zero waste and are also valuable in terms of protecting the resources of our planet and healing the soul
Before concluding my remarks, she said .The event is so special because we are celebrating the five milestones this year the 75th anniversary of the independence of Sri Lanka,
the Centenary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkiye,the 75th anniversary of the recognition of the independence of Sri Lanka by Turkiye.
– the 10th anniversary of the establishment of our Embassy in Colombo,
-and finally the 10th anniversary of the launch of T urkish Air- lines flights between Istanbul and Colombo.
The magnificient evenings culminated with a ‘Sufi dance with two whirling devishes who ttravelled from Turkiye for this special occasion to convey through their performances,the message of peace and love. Pix by Thushara Attapatu
Major leap in men’s apparance
By Zanita Careem
Male grooming is becoming one the most notable trends in contemopory times said Ramani Fernando,popular hairdresser and beautician of Ramani Fernando salons She says “men consider grooming, now as part of their daily lifestyle regime. The grooming industry has made it evident that grooming practices among men start with them taking care of thier skin hair and body. Increasingly men nowadays are seeking solutions to specific skin body and hair care problems”
The new generation of consumers, primarily Gen Z and millennials are willing to invest to keep themselves groomed
There is a crazy demand for cosmetic products with quick action. For this generation of men it is becoming important to get results quickly and with minimal effort, subsequently, quick action skin care and hairstyle products will continue to be in demand.
Men’s grooming is booming,, they are realizing the importance of proper skin and hair care and as a result there is a major demand for cleansers, moisturizers and anti aging products.
According to a study made by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons it was reported that during the last few years,there has been a major leap in men receiving injections, non -surgical minimally invasive treatments that can enhance thier look. Cosmetic for men,like creams, deodorants and fragrances are continuing to increase in popularity David Beckham, the English footballer who has set the standard for handsome and clean shaven look feels men’s grooming is important to keep up a good appearance.
Q Do you see a new trend in male grooming?
A Yes, there have been several trends in male grooming over the years, and these trends continue to evolve. Male grooming has become more mainstream and accepted in recent years as men are paying more attention to their personal grooming routines and appearance
Q Why have men become more aware of the importance of looking good?
A There are several factors contributing to the increased awareness of grooming among men:
Changing Social Norms
Traditional gender roles and norms have evolved, allowing men to express themselves more freely in terms of grooming and personal care. This has reduced the stigma around male grooming.
Media and Pop Culture
The media, including advertisements, movies, and television shows, often portray well-groomed and fashionable male role models. These representations influence societal perceptions of grooming.
Celebrities and Influencers
High-profile male celebrities and social media influencers openly discuss and showcase their grooming routines. This visibility encourages regular men to follow suit.
Increased Product Availability
The grooming industry has responded to the growing demand from men by developing a wide range of products tailored to their specific needs, from skincare to hair care to grooming tools.
Q Men are spending more on grooming products like oils balms an conditioners to keep their facial hair healthy? Your comments?
A I think its great that the male grooming industry has become more inclusive, recognizing that grooming is not limited to any specific gender. Many products are designed to be gender-neutral, and marketing is becoming more inclusive of diverse identities. Overall, male grooming products have evolved to meet the changing needs and preferences of men in today’s society.
Q Skin care has become the main focus among men – Do you agree?
A Men’s skincare has gained significant attention and importance in recent years, and for good reason I believe. Skincare is not just about appearance, it’s also about health and hygiene. Proper skincare routines can help men maintain healthy skin, prevent issues like acne and skin dryness, and protect against environmental damage
Q Do men come for facials, manicure and pedicure?
A Yes they do! Men getting facials, manicures, and pedicures is a positive and increasingly common practice that aligns with the principles of self-care, hygiene, and personal grooming.
Q Do you recommend facial for men?
A Facial hair for men is a versatile and expressive aspect of personal grooming and style. Facial hair is a dynamic aspect of personal grooming, and its significance and style can vary greatly from person to person and culture to culture. Ultimately, the choice of facial hair style should align with an individual’s personal preferences, lifestyle, and comfort level, allowing them to feel confident and express themselves in a way that suits their personality and image.
Q Social media influence has significantly increased men’s approach to cosmetic treatments. Your opinion?
A The influence of social media on men’s approach to cosmetic treatments is undeniable. Social media platforms have played a significant role in shaping societal beauty standards, normalizing cosmetic procedures.
While I feel it has played a significant role in raising awareness, normalizing treatments, and increasing acceptance, it also comes with potential downsides, such as unrealistic beauty standards and misinformation. It’s crucial for individuals, regardless of gender, to approach cosmetic treatments with caution, conduct thorough research, and consult with qualified professionals.
Q Botox and fillers, non-surgical minimally invasive treatments. Are they common among men in Sri Lanka?
A The use of Botox and dermal fillers as non-surgical minimally invasive treatments has become increasingly common among both men and women worldwide, including in Sri Lanka. While the prevalence of these treatments can vary depending on cultural norms and individual preferences, there is a growing interest in such procedures in Sri Lanka, particularly among those who prioritize grooming and appearance for special occasions like weddings.
Q Good grooming is important on your wedding day? Why?
A Good grooming is indeed important on your wedding day for several reasons, and it extends beyond mere vanity. When you look your best, you tend to feel more confident. A wedding is a momentous occasion where you’ll be in the spotlight, and feeling confident can make a significant difference in how you carry yourself and enjoy the day
Q Ornate costumes and sparkling accessories clout achieve that wedding look? What do you think the groom should follow?
A Ultimately, the groom’s attire should make him feel confident and proud on his wedding day. It’s a significant moment, and the groom should choose an outfit that allows him to fully enjoy and participate in the celebration. Whether it’s a classic tuxedo, a traditional cultural outfit, or a more contemporary ensemble, the key is to ensure that the attire aligns with the groom’s preferences and the overall vision for the wedding.
Q Man of the moment on that great day? How to achieve this look?
A To achieve the “Man of the Moment” look on your wedding day, it’s essential to focus on various aspects of your appearance and demeanor.
Plan ahead, start early in your wedding preparation and give yourself ample time to choose your attire, accessories, and grooming routines. Avoid last-minute rush decisions.Choose the right attire select an outfit that complements the overall theme and formality of the wedding.
Ensure your attire fits perfectly. Consider getting a custom-made suit or tuxedo for a perfect fit.Coordinate with your bride to ensure your outfit matches or complements hers in terms of style and color.
Q What do you suggest as grooming tips for the groom?
A Grooming is an essential aspect of a groom’s preparation for his wedding day. The following tips will ensure a well-groomed and confident appearance on your wedding day.
Start a skincare routine.
Maintain facial hair style.
Maintain good oral hygiene.
Keep nails clean and trimmed.
Use suitable hair care products and style your hair
Maintain facial hair or clean shave.
Choose a subtle fragrance.
Renew firearm license for 2024 before 31st December 2023 – Ministry of Defence
Danushka Gunathilaka found not guilty
Heavy showers about 100mm can be expected at some places in Western and Sabaragamuwa provinces and in Galle and Matara districts
‘Dates have the highest sugar content to fight Coronavirus’
Sunday Island 27 December – Headlines
#Sundayisland Sunday Island- 31 January- Headlines
News6 days ago
In terms of RTI Act House releases names of MPs who voted for new law
News4 days ago
Business focus shifting in a more favorable direction
Business4 days ago
SLT-DIGITAL Services and Surge Global forge strategic partnership to propel growth marketing and develop enterprise software solutions
Features4 days ago
PAMANKADE -THE TOWN THAT VANISHED !
News4 days ago
No new date yet for AL exam, postponement to have knock on effect
News3 days ago
US delaying visa for Security Oversight Committee head
Business4 days ago
Nirmal Saverimuttu Chief Executive Officer Virgin Voyages
News4 days ago
Expect more Easter Sunday type attacks: minister