As life has been teaching me, inspiration and motivation usually spring not (only) from those famous and authoritative people but (even) from those ordinary individuals with outstanding or at least, remarkable characters. It also holds true when it comes to my perception about places. I try my best not to underestimate places that look modest and cheap as it may be rewarding than expected.

Case in point, this hawker stall in front of a common-looking-eatery in Penang called, Kafe Heng Huat located at Lorong Selamat, one of the laterals of Jalan Macalister in George Town, Penang. If you must know, every hawker stall in this part of Southeast Asia appears almost the same. Apparently, they differ in the goods they offer. It turned out that my initial sampling of my ultimate favorite Malaysian dish, Char Koay Teow from Kafe Heng Huat didn’t only sustain me and satisfied my craving for that noodle dish but taught me some essential that money certainly can’t buy.


PASSION. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I personally saw untiring love for what she does that probably clearly makes every plate of CKT she prepares arguably the BEST in the entire Pulau Pinang.

Meet Soon Chuan Choo that according to the broadsheet article posted on the wall of this restaurant, has been cooking CKT for 45 years (the feature in Bangkok newspaper written in English was dated 2012). For someone who continuously does the same routine on a daily basis over those decades without boredom and fatigue, it must because of pure passion and love for it.

Penang, you’re very luck to have Aunty Soon Chuan Choo! She must be a living Heritage for cooking this Malaysian noodle dish for more than 4 decades and counting!

Look at my lunch freshly cooked as per order. Take note of the size of those prawns! A plateful of CKT from Aunty Soon is definitely worth it at 10 ringgit!
Because every plate is only prepared upon order, it took around 10 minutes of waiting before I savored this version of CKT recommended to me by Malaysian-blogger and friend, Emily of and incidentally, by our colleague and friend who’s now back in the Philippines with his family, Doc Noel. According to his previous observations that he shared on the comment-thread of my CKT-photo on fb, he remembers this lady to be somewhat in unpleasant mood while cooking; perhaps, because she doesn’t want to be disturbed of the long queue with many orders; she remains so focused on cooking Char Koay Teow then and now. Aunty Soon may not offer anyone a smile and obviously has an attitude towards work but that’s how she delivers a perfect plate. If people go to Kafe Heng Huat for her Char Koay Teow over the past 4 decades, I think it confirms that she’s doing it right.


The view from where I sat. Packed with hungry diners, mostly locals who know what’s best in their area.

Waiting wasn’t an issue to me as I saw this signage when I went to my table.

So I gave in and ordered one of Malaysian popular desserts.

At only around 3 ringgit, I managed to go against the scorching sunny weather with Ais Kacang (pronounced as ice ka-chang) which is made of finely shaved ice, milk, sweet corn, jelly strips, nata de coco and red beans topped with a scoop of ice cream. Sedap! Sarap!  Reminds me of our very own smilar dessert in the Philippines, Halo-halo. So perfect for summer!

In my 3 years of working in Penang, I oftenly go to Gurney Drive when I crave for a tasteful Char Koay Teow.  Here’s a capture of that CKT :
Char Koay Teow, Penang

But suggestions from friends proved that there are other far better options. This Malaysian dish of fried flat noodles, mixed with chili sauce, tofu, egg, sprouts, cockles, Chinese chorizo or pork sausage and larger prawns can give that CKT from the hawker stall in Gurney Drive a tough competition on my list.

It was a pleasure eating Aunty Soon’s specialty :

penang's char koay teow from lorong selamat, george town, penang via

Edited : Doc Noel added on his comment on fb that Aunty Soon was noted to be strict on schedule, as he saw a nice family with kids came 5 minutes past closing time, and Aunty did not give in. I understand her being strict but a little consideration and a smile would not hurt.

Somehow, I see myself in Aunty Soon’s character. People easily judged me to have an attitude, ridiculously an anti-social but that’s how they define not my character but theirs.  Like her, I am also particular with schedules, I rarely come late on appointments as I value time and punctuality. I am strict and stick with rules particularly my own. I always try to give everything in what I do.

For as long as we’re here in Penang, I’ll surely return to Kafe Heng Huat for another serving of Aunty Soon’s Char Koay Teow. Each plate is inspiring!


*This post with all of its photos is my entry to Weekly Photo Challenge : Lunchtime



  1. Places like these say so much more and the story you shared just showcases its charm. nagutom ako bigla! haha. tagal ko nang di nakapag-update. ewan kung kelan ang next update ko. haha

    1. bisita kayo ng penang! kain tayo dito! sina estan, grupo nila ivan man dy, at nina fuentes nagbabalak sa may, july at november respectively. 🙂

  2. Great post! I learnt long ago not to judge places on their appearance. The best restaurant in Faliraki, near where I used to live in Greece, is a very basic looking Chinese. The food is served on plastic trays with a plastic fork, and you don’t even get a cup for your drink, but the food is amazing 🙂

    1. you bet, bert! so fortunate to have tasted her specialty that happens to be my favorite!
      i am so coming back to that food place with tina & gabby soon & sample again aunty soon’s char koay teow!

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