Kway Teow Th’ng – Famous Malaysian Cuisine

A steaming bowl of noodle soup is true comfort food to some people. But one Malaysian twist on the theme, Penang Koay Teow Th’ng, may be more challenging than comforting to the uninitiated!

Penang has a bounty of Nyonya hawker food stalls, preparing to order a colourful menu of Chinese-Malay dishes, and th’ng is one test of authenticity. “Th’ng” means “soup” in Hokkien, a reference to the broth, and it’s very much a Chinese style dish echoing the cuisine of immigrants who first brought it to Malaysia centuries ago.

The clear, flavoursome broth, usually pork or chicken, is simple enough, and the koay teow (flat rice noodles) are slippery and soft. Things get interesting with the lengthy list of toppings and add-ons various vendors offer, which can turn a bowl of th’ng into an edible barnyard!

Pork is the default, with sliced and/or minced pork meat daubed on the noodles, topped with fresh bean sprouts, coriander spring onions, crunchy fried garlic chips and perhaps a drizzle of soy sauce and sesame oil. Adventurous eaters opt for sliced pork liver or intestine, cubes of pig blood jelly and may even go cross-species, throwing chicken meat, chicken feet and fish balls into the mix. Condiment bowls of caramelised pork crackling and lard, sometimes mixed with garlic chips, plus fresh sliced green and red chillies can be added at will.

Some stalls specialise in duck th’ng, using a chicken and/or duck bone broth, duck meat and duck blood jelly, occasionally offering real delicacies like duck hearts and livers.

Most hawker stalls serve a “tourist” version of th’ng – just broth, noodles and very recognisable slices of pork or chicken. If you don’t want to play it safe, explore the toppings lists and don’t be shy to point and ask questions.

Once your order arrives, resist the urge to plunge straight in. Experienced th’ng eaters like to layer textured and flavours into their spoons, with a pinch of noodles, a fish ball, blood jelly, chilli and crackling for crunch. Done right, a spoonful of th’ng can be a memorable texture and flavour bomb!

Shop name:
Restoran Hong Kee
13 Jalan 2/27 Section 2 Petaling Jaya

Famous Malaysian cuisine is a 50-video series produced by Masters of Malaysian cuisine(MOMC) in partnership with Tourism Malaysia.

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