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Guide to chee cheong fun

Time Out’s guide to the great chee cheong funs of KL, sorted by style

Up the fun factor with our guide to different types of chee cheong fun, from Hong Kong-style noodles rolled with juicy shrimps and chopped char siew to Penang-style chee cheong fun doused in har gou.

Hong Kong-style
Photo: Hizwan Hamid
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Hong Kong-style

Served with: Soy sauce, shrimps, char siew
Noodles: Rolled with juicy shrimp and char siew
Sauce: Light soy sauce

Different from the usual brown sauce-laden KL-style chee cheong fun, Hong Kong-style chee cheong fun is basically fluffy rice noodles rolled with juicy shrimps and chopped char siew, served in a light soy sauce. At the Hong Kong Chee Cheong Fun stall in Restaurant New Lucky, Mrs Gan and her husband work as a dream team: steaming, chopping and plating a serving of Hong Kong-style chee cheong fun in less than two minutes.

hong kong style
Photo: Hizwan Hamid

According to Mrs Gan, not all rice is equal, which in turn affects the quality of flour produced from it. Understanding the ratio between water and rice flour is essential to making good chee cheong fun. Mrs Gan’s 26 years of experience has taught her well: ladling water-thin batter on to a cloth on the steamer, sprinkling shrimp and char siew over it, removing the now-firm sheet of rice noodle from the cloth to the chopping board with a flick of the wrist, and then expertly pushing and chopping noodles with a metal scraper.

Only three options are available on the menu: shrimp, char siew or yin yong (a mix of both), all priced at RM8 each. The noodles and briny-sweet soy sauce go so well together that the teaspoon-sized daub of fragrant sambal on the side seems almost like an afterthought.

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Sri Petaling
Ipoh-style
Photo: Stacy Liu
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Ipoh-style

Served with: Mushroom gravy, pickled green chillies
Noodles: Smooth unrolled noodles
Sauce: Mushroom gravy, curry
Add-ons: Pickled green chillies

Ipoh-style chee cheong fun is classic comfort food: rice noodle rolls doused in mushroom gravy, topped with slivers of shiitake, shredded chicken and crunchy green chillies. While this is the common defining characteristics of Ipoh-style chee cheong fun, not many know of another version which uses curry in addition to the mushroom sauce.

ipoh style
Photo: Stacy Liu

For that, there’s Mushroom Curry Chee Cheong Fun on the third floor food court of the Sungei Way morning market. It’s a rare dish; stall proprietor Kim Leow says that not many know how to make it anymore. Leow herself inherited the 44-year-old business from her parents, who were taught by an old lady who used to sell the dish in Ipoh. To make the silky mushroom gravy, Leow says she uses anchovy and pork loin broth as base. No wonder the queues keep coming.

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Petaling Jaya
KL-style
Photo: Stacy Liu
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KL-style

Served with: Brown tim zheong (sweet sauce), yong tau fu
Noodles: Either rolled or unrolled
Sauce: Brown tim zheong
Add-ons: Yong tau fu

Smooth rice noodles and brown tim zheong aside, what makes KL-style chee cheong fun even better are the add-ons: yong tau fu (vegetables and tofu with fish paste), fish balls, fried bean curds, meatballs and more. For creative options aplenty (think salted fish tofu, bacon-wrapped broccoli, dumplings with salted egg yolk), there’s the old-but-gold Yap Hup Kee at Pudu.

kl style
Photo: Stacy Liu

The Yap family business began three generations ago with homemade Hakka-style yong tau fu sold from a cart. Eighty-six years later, Yap Hup Kee is still one of the go-to spots for good yong tau fu and chee cheong fun by sheer merit of their fresh ingredients. For extra textural interest, the smooth unrolled noodles here are sprinkled with crunchy dried shrimp instead of sesame seeds.

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KL City Centre
Teluk Intan-style
Photo: Stacy Liu
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Teluk Intan-style

Served with: Choi pou (pickled sweet turnip), dried shrimp
Noodles: Rolled with choi pou, dried shrimp
Sauce: No sauce needed
Add-ons: Pickled green chillies

Commonly known as Anson (Teluk Intan was also known as Teluk Anson) chee cheong fun, this particular variety has a brownish mottled appearance due to the pickled sweet turnip and dried shrimp in it. Don’t be fooled by its appearance though. This humble chee cheong fun is soft and slightly chewier than its counterparts, all thanks to the choi pou and shrimp, which add flavour and texture.

teluk intan style
Photo: Stacy Liu

According to Alvin, who mans the Ming Kee Teluk Intan Zhu Chang Fen stall at the Sri Petaling night market, the pickled sweet turnips and chee cheong fun here are all homemade. Rice flour batter is steamed twice: First for it to set slightly, and then again after choi pou and dried shrimp are generously distributed on to it, before being rolled into plump chee cheong fun rolls. The original version in Teluk Intan is usually served with light soy sauce and pickled green chillies, but this version at the Sri Petaling night market is served with homemade sambal belacan and sesame seeds.

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Sri Petaling
Penang-style
Photo: Stacy Liu
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Penang-style

Served with: Har gou (prawn paste)
Noodles: Usually rolled
Sauce: Har gou

Used heavily in Penang food (rojak and laksa, for example), the thick, dark brown har gou is the defining characteristic of Penang-style chee cheong fun. The pleasant contrast between the sweet, umami gooey har gou sauce and smooth rice noodles makes for a strangely addictive dish that’s a testament to the versatility of the chee cheong fun.

penang style
Photo: Stacy Liu

Try the dish at the Penang Chee Cheong Fun stall at O&S Restaurant in Taman Paramount. Manning the stall is Alor Setar native Chew Sing San, who learnt to make chee cheong fun from his Penangite uncle. Now in his sixties, he has been honing the craft for more than 30 years.

Chew says that he imports pots of prawn paste from Penang, but the key lies in the adjustment of the taste and texture of his har gou using a personal family recipe.

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SEA Park
Kampar-style
Photo: Joyce Koh
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Kampar-style

Served with: Red tim zheong (sweet sauce)
Noodles: Steamed with chopped dried shrimp
Sauce: Red tim zheong
Add-ons: Pickled green chillies

Come at 7am and there’s nary an empty table in sight, come at 9am and they’re probably sold out; SS14 Chee Cheong Fun at the nondescript Hai Keng Kopitiam is where you can find some of the best Kampar-style chee cheong fun in KL. No fu cuk (bean curd skin), no fishballs, no frivolities. This is normcore chee cheong fun where the soft rice noodles shine in the midst of the standard condiments such as tim zheong, chilli sauce, pickled green chillies and sesame seeds.

kampar style
Photo: Joyce Koh

Hailing from Kampar, the sprightly 72-year old Lai Yew Kong has been selling chee cheong fun for 47 years. It’s hard work: rice is milled into flour, and the condiments are all made in-house. To ensure the freshness of the noodles, Lai gets up at three in the morning to make the batter and steam it into delicate rice noodles. His version comes with tiny bits of chopped dried shrimp embedded in it.

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Seksyen 14

Also try

Tuck Kee Chee Cheong Fun stall

Auntie Chan from Kampar started the Tuck Kee Chee Cheong Fun stall 41 years ago, and now the family business supplies rice noodle rolls to more than 11 stalls across the country. At the stall in Kedai Kopi Lucky, order your chee cheong fun with the curry sauce.

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Seksyen 17

Yooi Kee

Usually sold out before noon, the velvety smooth chee cheong fun at Yooi Kee in Kim Lian Kee coffee shop is topped with a reddish sauce made of doubanjiang (broad bean paste), chilli and sesame seeds.

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Petaling Street
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