The place has grown on us, so it was a pleasure to revisit in May and June for an article that appears in today's Wall Street Journal Asia 'Weekend Journal'. (The text is accompanied by a slideshow; more images here.)
One of our favorite places to eat on the island didn't make it into the final edit, so we want to take this opportunity to give some cred to Lim Chou Kok and his double-cooked char koay teow.
Mr. Lim and his family run Restoran Guo Siang, a coffee shop on Pulau Ketam's 'main street' of Jalan Pasar. You'll see him out front everyday, workin' the wok.
Unlike most wok jockeys Mr. Lim is always nattily dressed, and despite the fact that most of the time he's hanging his head over a hot pan, he always looks cool as a cucumber. I think we sweat more eating his noodles than he does making them.
So what's so special about Lim Chou Kok's char koay teow? They're twice-cooked -- the noodles alone are fried once and set aside on a big platter; when an order's placed Mr. Lim fries them again, adding in eggs, tiny Pulau Ketam prawns, Chinese chives, and bean sprouts. And rather than just koay teow (flat rice noodles), the dish is a mix of koay teow and yellow mee.
You'd think that double-frying would mean double the grease, but not so. The noodles have a nice chewiness that regular char koay teow don't, are really soaked through with the fine flavors of black soy sauce and smoke and -- amazingly -- are less oily than your average version. There's just something about Mr. Lim's noodles (he does a very good spicy koay teow goreng as well).
We're not the only ones who think so; the dish is so beloved by his fellow islanders that he serves more than 2,000 plates on the first day of every Chinese New Year.
Thanks to June for introducing us to Mr. Lim and his family, and other friendly folk on Pulau Ketam.