Char Koay Kak (Fried Rice Cake)

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Char Koay Kak (Fried Rice Cake) also known as Chai Tau Kueh is a very popular street food on the island of Penang, Malaysia. It is normally eaten for breakfast or late supper. Housewives doing their groceries in the early morning would gather around the stall to trade gossips while waiting for their orders of Char Koay Kak. The hawker will fry batches of cubed rice cakes in a flat pan about 2½ feet in diameter. The large pan enables him to cater for “special dietary needs” by frying at different corners of the pan. Egg-free, no problems. Sometimes you can even request for extras like shrimp. The biggest batch is always the super spicy.

Ideally the rice cakes should have radishes in them but it has been simplified over time to fit the breakfast budget. This delectable dish is a treat on shoestring. While its flavors and preparation are similar to its more famous cousin, the Penang Char Koay Teow, nevertheless Char Koay Kak holds a very special place in the hearts of many Penangites. Some may remember mom coming home from the market with the much anticipated triangular newspaper bundle tied with a rafia string.

This dish is hardly found outside of Malaysia and Singapore. The only way to enjoy it here is to make it at home. This can be a rather involved process as the rice cake has to be made first. When I saw these ready made rice cakes at the Asian grocery store, I was delighted. The taro in there is minimal and the taste hardly noticeable.

I used the Korean chili paste (gochujang) as it is the closest substitute to the kind of chili paste used in Malaysia. I also added some Chinese chives for added flavor and color. Below is my rendition of the dish.

Note: In my haste to taste the dish, I forgot to take more step-by-step pictures but you get the idea. ;)

Char Koay Kak (Fried Rice Cake)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Char Koay Kak (Fried Rice Cake)


  • 1 packet taro or plain rice cake, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 8 oz (225g) bean sprouts
  • 4 oz (115g) Chinese chives, sliced into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 tbsp chopped pickled radish (chai poh), optional
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp chili paste
  • 4 tbsp canola oil
  • Salt and pepper


Pour 1 tablespoon canola oil in non-stick fry pan. Add half of the cubed rice cake and pan fry till golden brown. Remove and set aside. Repeat with the other half of the cubed rice cake.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil into pan. Sauté garlic and pickled radish until lightly brown. Stir in chili paste. Add pan fried rice cubes, dark soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

Push rice cubes to the side of pan with spatula. Add eggs and toss rice cubes over eggs. Stir to get rice cubes coated with egg. Add bean sprouts and Chinese chives. Stir for another two minutes or so.

Remove and serve immediately.

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 8-)

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45 Responses

  1. Sharon says:

    Delicious delicious delicious! I love rice cake, although I’ve only ever had the flat ones. And they’re so yummy fried! They’re not bad in soup, but it’s definitely better fried. Yours look so tempting I wish I could have some!

  2. OH MY GOD!!!!! I had these one at a restaurant in NYC and they were amazing. I’m so excited you posted this recipe! I can’t wait to try it.

    Lots of yummy love,
    Alex aka Ma What’s For Dinner

    • Biren says:

      Wow…I’ll have to chek it out when I visit NYC. I hope you can find the rice cake in an Asian grocery store near you. :)

  3. I’ve never heard of this. Thanks for the backstory to go along with the recipe. Though I’ll probably mispronounce it when I try. Lol. Least I know what it means. Great post!

  4. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    This looks great! I go crazy for a plate full of that deliciousness.

  5. Blackswan says:

    Wow! I didn’t know they’ve ready-made ones. My son’s gonna like this. I could finish the entire plate too!

  6. lequan says:

    This is another one of my favorite dishes that my grandma used to make. This truly is such deliciousness in your mouth. I don’t remember exactly but I think we used to dip this with red vinegar mixed with some garlic chili paste. There is only one restaurant I found here that served this and they served it with a black sauce like soy sauce but it was slightly sweet. I’ll have to ask what sauce it is next time I go. Your dish looks wonderful with those sprouts and Chinese chives.

  7. Omg!!! Biren – my mouth is salivating right now. I have to rush off for a meeting and don’t have time for anything but coffee and I feel lightheaded looking at this!!! THIS is what I crave whenever I come home from a long trip overseas and this is one of the things I want to have as part of my last earthly meal. I feel sad for anyone who has never had the chance to taste this heavenly delight!!!!

    • Biren says:

      Wow…that’s serious Denise! LOL! Sounds like you really like char koay kak. I can’t blame you though as it is really tasty. So good that you can just step out and buy this whenever you feel like having it.

  8. Anncoo says:

    Biren, this is one of my fav that I like to order at the hawker center. Besides Chai Tau Kueh, we also have mee suah kueh. Will try to make some after CNY.
    I must go and get some Chai Tau Kueh now…

    • Biren says:

      Mee suah kueh? I will have to check that out the next time I visit. I love mee suah and cook it quite often over here. Good thing mee suah is easily available.

  9. Looks like the kind of flavor profile I adore!! Wish they sold this on the streets here!

  10. Looks delicious! This is my family’s (meaning entire family of siblings, nieces, nephews,etc…..LOL) favourite local treat! I love to add chili and no eggs for me, with lots of garlic and pickle radish, …. absolute yum! Gosh I can almost smell that plate of yours from here! Luckily I can satisfy the crave for this anytime over here!

  11. This sounds like a delicious and flavorful specialty, I would love to try!

  12. is the tarot rice cake same as daikon rice cakes? i had those at a vietnamese restaurant here and LOVE them. i am addicted to the restaurant because of that dish!

    • Biren says:

      Taro and daikon rice cakes are different though the method of preparation and the way it is served may be similar. Taro cakes are a little more dense while radish cakes are lighter.

  13. Jeannie says:

    I just had these delicious dish this morning! I’ve always love this…yours looks so good!

  14. Rumana says:

    What a beautiful recipe.. i was not very much interested in rice cake but when i saw yours i fall in love with it:)

  15. Love this…. and usually will have this for breakfast or brunch when I go back to Asia for a visit. Otherwise, I do make it at home :)

  16. Rice cake is totally new to me, but this dish looks delicious! the combination of spices sounds awesome!

  17. Kym Kym says:

    Yeah. I like it too. I like the version with lotsa dark soy sweet. I prefer it to be sweeter. And lotsa chai por.

  18. Suchitra says:

    Biren, I am new to this recipe and the dish looks super tasty!

  19. tigerfish says:

    Don’ think I have tried them but it looks like Chai Teow Kway!

  20. Joanne says:

    I wish we had delicious street food like this here in NYC! Sounds delicious!

  21. Megan says:

    Wow Biren – Amazing and congrats to just being able to whip it up at home! Did everyone just love it? It looks lovey, fried up with the magical seasonings – yumm! I hope you are well! – Megan

  22. This looks so delicious Biren…I have never tried this dish, but I love all of these flavors :)

  23. This looks so fabulous, thanks for sharing! :)

  24. Juliana says:

    Biren, I love rice cake, but never had it this way…and taro rice cake…yummie…will have to try it soon. Nice photos :-)

  25. Zoe says:

    Homemade char koay kar is so special to me. Appreciate all your effort to cook this yummy local food for great memories…

  26. Cubicle says:

    Wow that recipe looks great. I’m really going to have to search out the ingredients…I hope I can find them!

  27. DongXing says:

    Hi Biren, you lucky lucky girl to be able to buy the taro cake! I was just thinking of chai tau kueh at lunch time, just before I had a look at your blog. It’s chilly again here and I am just wanting to eat some warm comfort food….instead, I have to be content with just a plain old ham sandwich!

    • Biren says:

      These rice cakes are quite a find. They are so convenient and it beats having to make the rice cake myself. The family really enjoy this dish. :)

  28. I do not lie Biren but these are my absolute fave – char kway teow and the ‘white’ or ‘black’ variety we would get at the hawker stalls in Malaysia and Singapore. I almost died and went to heaven when I opened your blog. THANK YOU – you’ve made me a very very happy girl :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  29. MAry says:

    What a wonderful dish. It really sounds delicious. It will take some looking to find the rice cake, but I sure plan to try. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  30. A homey and satisfying dish! I love it!

  31. Julie M. says:


    The next time I’m visiting my brother in MN I am absolutely coming to your house for a meal. You make the most unique and delicious looking dishes! I really wish I could have a bowl of this right now; yum!

  32. oh how I miss this dish! My all time favourite snack.

  33. Shu han says:

    OH I just realised you’remalaysian! I’m from singapore so it’s nice seeing dishes that remind me of home (:

    TChai tow kway is one of my favourite breakfast dishes! oh and
    Peanut pancakes!!

    haha do check out if you liek (:

  34. Joe says:

    I had this nearly every morning for three months while I lived in Penang. I’ve been trying to find it online for years. It was amazing! Thank you for posting this!

    • Biren says:

      Hi Joe! Thanks for visiting! Now that you have found the recipe, perhaps you can try prepare on your own. :) I am using a shortcut here with store bought taro rice cake which works beautifully. Do give it a try.

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