So you’re in the Klang Valley. Where do you go for the best char kuey teow? It’s not an easy question; everyone has his or her own opinion. And it was with this question in mind that I came to Panmour Villa in Section 20, Shah Alam, where rumors of an excellent char kuey teow were being told. A friend of my father first told me about this place.
Panmour Villa is actually a small hotel with… uhm, no stars I think, but that’s beside the point. It’s situated just opposite Selangor Medical Center in Shah Alam, nested in a row of shophouses. It’s a small, double-story unit, where the upper level is where the rooms are, and the ground level is their own food-court. We (my friends and I) arrived on a damp-ish Monday night, armed with nothing but an empty stomach, craving for char kuey teow.
The restaurant features open kitchens, with sections denoting Western, Noodles, Thai, Nasi Campur and such. What décor they had was minimal; you wouldn’t want to come here for Valentine’s Day, if you know what I mean. Plastic chairs and hard tables abound. We were handed simple laminated menus. A quick glance showed they had basic western, and a lot of Thai stuff. The food was fairly cheap, with only the western fare going above the RM20 mark. But we skipped those and went for the dish people talk most about when they come here: Char Kuey Teow (RM4/-).
Before that though, let’s zoom back a little. What makes a good char kuey teow? To me, eggs, cockles, shrimps, chives and, most importantly, the ‘char’. It has to taste salty from the soy sauce, sweet from the shrimps, meaty cockles, smooth noodles, and a hint of chili. It needs that balance with that almost indescribable ‘smoky’ flavor that only a smoking hot wok can produce. And it has to be cheap, as that was what char kuey teow was in the beginning: a cheap, quick and filling meal.
The char kuey teow at Panmour Villa did well enough; it was certainly one of the better ones I’ve had outside of Gurney Drive. The noodles were well cooked and weren’t mushy, and the chef put in a generous amount of cockles and shrimp. The only issue I had was that perhaps it was a little bit bland, but that was fixed with the obligatory cili kicap on the side. No one could fault the portion size though; you get your fair share of greasy, slippery, tasty noodles.
At the end of the day our bill came to about RM60 including lots of drinks, for six, which is pretty good value for money these days. I’d come here again to try out the other dishes on the menu; I saw a waiter carrying a sizzling bowl of yee-mee, so that could be worth checking out. As it stands though I commend the restaurant for giving a char kuey teow that, at RM4 a plate for a nicely sized portion, is a good deal for a kuey teow loving Klang Valley-ian like me.
But Penang, however, still wins.
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