Photo: The Straits Times

When a friend found out that I live in the Kovan area, her immediate reaction was: "Beef kway teow from Cheng Kee."

She gushed about its broth, adding that she would always slurp up all of the soup every time she had a bowl of it.

The noodle dish from this particular stall was her standard lunch order whenever she popped by Kovan to shop for groceries, she said.

Photo: Joseph Pang/Facebook

Her only complaint was the stall's snaking queues during peak hours.

As a Kovan resident for the past six years, I thought I had sampled almost every major food stall in the neighbourhood, especially any that is popular enough to draw a long line of customers.
But I had never even heard of this place and set out to look for it.
It turns out that the stall was only a 10-minute walk from my apartment, but as it was hidden behind a wide column at the back of a coffee shop, I had never noticed it before.

Photo: Joseph Pang/Facebook

The tendons in Cheng Kee's beef kway teow come in big chunks and are melt-in-the-mouth tender.
It is also not open at night, the only time I go to this coffee shop for zi char dinners.

I headed over to Cheng Kee on a quiet weekday morning and already there were three people ahead of me.

The menu board was overwhelming. From the type of noodles available - kway teow, yellow noodles, thick beehoon, to the myriad beef parts - meatballs, tendon, beef slices, among others, the potential number of combinations is great.

After much deliberation, I decided on a bowl of kway teow in soup with beef slices and tendon ($6), hoping to taste a contrast of textures.

I was not disappointed.

The beef slices, though too thin for my liking, were cooked well. They were flavourful too, especially when dipped in the stall's homemade cincalok and chili sauces.

The highlight, however, had to be the soup. Peppery and sweet, it was rich but not cloying. There was none of that artificial beef flavouring that some stalls use.

I could see why my friend was such a fan. It is a good thing I just live down the road from it.

Cheng Kee Beef Kway Teow
203 Hougang Street 21, open: 8.30am to 5pm daily

Rating: 3.5/5

This article was first published on The Straits Times.