Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Singapore: Bak Chor Mee

So it's not the prettiest looking bowl of noodles, but it was one of my more memorable meals in Singapore.

Everyone, from contributors at foodie forums, to local Singaporeans, to my picky friends and colleagues, told me that if I was going to 'do' a food court, it would have to be Food Republic at Wisma Atria. No one gave me a specific stall name though - the general advice was to join the longest queue.

The queue (simple spelt as "Q" in Singapore - very cute) was only second to that of Sergeant Chicken Rice next door. Neither had more than 8-10 people at a time - there were probably 3 people ahead of me at this Bak Chor Mee stall, but it did take a while, because there was only one little old man manning the stoves. You choose a dish (usually some combination of noodles, mushroom, pork mince, dumplings, fish balls), pick a noodle and pay the auntie. The auntie then puts all your raw ingredients into a bowl and puts it in line. As you're lining up, you'll see the numerous newspaper clippings of the little old man - he seems to be quite the noodle man. When it's your turn, you arrive at a glass counter, facing the little old man, and he cooks the contents of your bowl to order. There, you can tell him how spicy you want your broth to be and he'll adjust the sambal as appropriate.

The noodles were cooked just right - springy, tender but not mushy, the soup savoury, in a thick, rich, Chinese bean paste like way, with a hint of chilli (I asked for a teeny weeny speck). The dumpling wasn't great, but the fried fish ball and soy-braised Chinese mushrooms were delish. The latter came out of a tub of soy-like marinade around the stove, which the chef would add clear broth to every so often - I like to believe the marinade tub has never been cleaned out and that traces of the first ever marinade made is still there. After all, that's how Chinese noodlemakers are supposed to keep their broths 'living'.

Our set came with a deep-fried tofu, which was surprisingly good - I liked the intense soy flavour combined with the spring onion, and the weight/density of the tofu - and still warm and crisp on the outside - that's rarely the case in Hong Kong eateries - they pre-fry everything and just dish 'em out.

No culinary revelation, but it's always nice to know where you can get a totally satisfying bowl of noodles.

Bak Chor Mee stall
Food Republic
4/F Wisma Atria
Orchard Rd

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