Cheng Kee Beef Kway Teow (清记牛肉粿條)

Being the daughter of a chef, I never got to eat out very much when I was a kid. Not that I’m complaining, since I get to eat out all I want now and still have the reassurance of being able to return home to a homecooked meal whenever I feel like it. Bahaha turned an anecdote into a brag.

Cheng Kee Beef Kway Teow is one of the few places I remember my parents bringing me to, as it was within walking distance of the centre my brother and I had our weekly gymnastics sessions at. Incidentally known as Tumble Tots. Then we grew older and a mall was built right across the street from our place, so it’s been at least 13 years since my last visit here. It’s quite a famous stall in its own right, having earned a spot on the 2007 edition of Makansutra.

Beef kway teow (soup), $4.00.

This was a belly-warming bowl of beef noodles. The beef slices were tender and juicy, and the slightly herbal broth aromatic. I dipped the slices of beef into chinchalok, a fermented shrimp paste that’s the Malaccan equivalent of Korean saewoojot – the similarity between the two condiments was a discovery which totally geeked me out. Then again, these beef noodles have Hainanese (a provincial group of people in China, and also one of the dialect groups of Singaporean Chinese) roots, yet to the uninitiated you’d probably be able to get away with calling them Vietnamese pho.

But back to the taste of the chinchalok, which added a tangy and rather refreshing dimension to the beef. Very interesting. I found myself slurping down spoonful after spoonful of the soft kway teow until nothing remained, although I’m supposed to be scaling back on carbs. On such occasions I tell myself that I’ll compensate by having salad the next day. I didn’t.

Dawww look how they’ve preserved their old signboard.

I remember the beef kway teow at Cheng Kee to be tastier in the days of yore, but you know how we tend to immortalize foods we grew up with. I’m trying to discount the nostalgia and not hold the food to an impossibly high standard that may not even have existed. Objectively speaking, it was good. Not wowWwwW fantastic, just better-than-okay good.

In any event this was still a way better bowl of beef noodles than the Hock Lam stuff I make do with on weekdays: Functional, yes, but commercialized and hardly satisfying. Alas the sad truth of life for an office minion is that your lunch options are restricted to the area you work in… meh, the stuff we do for money.

You can just feel the Tuesday blues seeping through the words in this entry eh. I promise the next one will sound cheerier.

Cheng Kee Beef Kway Teow
Wong Poh Kopitiam
Block 203
Hougang Street 21
Singapore 530203

Opening hours: 9.30 am to 5 pm, daily. Closed on Fridays.

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