Friday, 13 April 2012

Lor Mee, Fish Ball & Mee Rebus

Salt Water Cafe: Ultimate Lor Mee Challenge

Can you imagine what the ultimate Lor Mee would look like?

Every now and again, I would let my imagination run wild and fantasize about what the ultimate plate of Char Kway Teow, Carrot Cake and Beef Kway Teow would look like if I gave the hawker a $15 budget. Certainly, when it comes to Beef Kway Teow, you can easily imagine thin slices of Wagyu beef and generous chunks of beef cheek and shin braised till its all ready to dissolve on your tongue with the slightest pressure. And of course, the soup would have to be specially prepared with extra beef bones to extract the maximum beef oommmph in each spoonful. Ok, maybe a $15 budget is not enough for such a bowl of Beef Kway Teow!

So, what if I asked you to imagine what your ultimate bowl of Lor Mee would look like?

That was the challenge proposed to Chef William Soh of Changi Village Hotel when Mediacorp was searching for their ultimate bowl of Lor Mee for their TV series on Noodles. It didn't take Chef William too long to oblige as hawker food literally runs in his blood, having grown up in a family of hawkers.

The bowl of Lor Mee that Chef came up with has special toppings of deep fried Cod Fish, live prawns, handmade Prawn Rolls, Ngor Hiang and of course braised pork and eggs. The prawn rolls were excellent and had a wonderful crustacean flavour in it which was only made more heavenly when you dip it in the Lor (Braising Sauce). But if you simply look at the toppings, you might miss the star of the whole dish, which is in fact, the Lor.

There are a few things that sets this Lor apart from the others. Firstly, the Lor is a by product of braising duck and pork. So unlike the Lor that you get outside which is made as a gravy for the noodles, the Lor here is used to braise their meats and thus it has a more natural umami. The use of spices here is also quite distinct from your usual bowl of Lor Mee. Chef explains that traditionally, a spice called cao guo (草果, black cardamom) is often used, alongside other spices like cinnamon and star anise. When my bowl of Lor Mee arrived, the smell of the spices just permeated the air. I thought at first that it was going to be a bit too strong, but the gravy turned out to be quite addictive. Because Chef only uses egg white to thicken the sauce, it is not as starchy as the gravy served at the hawker stalls. And as with classic Lor Mee, black vinegar and chopped garlic is served alongside which just elevates the flavour of the gravy.

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Fishball Soup in Toa Payoh

01-07, Toa Payoh Lor.8. hawker centre.

There are plenty of fishball soup stalls in Singapore but the favourite of the night shift taxi drivers is definitely the stalls in Tao Payoh Estate. There are 2 good one in this estate. The popular one that closes by mid night is called "Song Kee FishBall Noddle at Toa Payoh Lor 5. The other stall that starts at 7pm and closes only when everything is sold out around 4am is called "Khim Kee Fishball Kway Teow" at 01-07, Toa Payoh Lor 8's recently upgraded hawker centre. Most night shift taxi drivers prefer the latter stall, partly because it stays open till the wee hours of the morning, has easy parking and the food is excellent too.

The owner of "Khim Kee" is a blading Teochew man of about 60 and goes by the name of Ah Khim. He has been selling fishball noodle soup single-handedly for more than 20 years at this location. Unlike other stalls that get their fishballs from food factories, Ah Khim hand made his fish-balls and fish-cakes personally. He uses the common yellow-tail fish and turn the fish meat into fish paste. With salt and seasoning added but without flour, he "beats' the fish paste for hours till it attain a springy texture. Each even ball shape is produced by hand and the raw fish ball is boiled for a standard period to achieve a bounce when thrown on to the floor. The water from boiling process is used as soup. He claims that no MSG is added. Instead the clear and tasty soup if further sweetened with pork bone which are cooked overnight.

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Top 8 Mee Rebus stalls

Top 8 Mee Rebus stalls Part 1
Here are eight Mee Rebus stalls recommended by two writers.

Singapore, January 17, 2012
Click on the thumbnails below to see pictures of all the top 8 Mee Rebus

Haji Daliman Korner
Seah Im Food Centre Block 2 Seah Im Road, #01-33

The gravy here is the thickest - thick enough to coat each individual noodle strand for an extra burst of flavour. There are generous chunks of tofu to contrast with the chewy noodles.
Opening hours: 8am to 10pm daily
Price: $2.50
Siti Nur Liyana Claypot Noodles
Adam Road Food Centre #01-14, 2 Adam Road

The sweetness of the gravy is the main draw. The texture is just right and served with freshly-sliced chilli for some extra heat.
Opening hours: 7am to 9.45pm daily Closed on Mondays
Price: $2.50
Warong 170
eylang Serai Market 1 Geylang Serai, #02-127

Be prepared for a wait - lines at this stall can be long in the mornings. The gravy here has a milder flavour, with just a tinge of sweetness. There are just enough beansprouts for some crunch with each bite.
Opening hours: 8am to 5pm daily
Price: $2.50
HJ. Waliti HJ. Mazuki
Haig Road Food Centre Block 14 Haig Road, #01-18

The size of the portions here is slightly smaller, but will be enough to satisfy your craving for mee rebus.
The gravy is sweet, creamy and filled with the fragrance of peanuts. The noodles are topped with lots of shallots.
Opening hours: 6am to 8pm. Closed on Fridays.
Price: $2.50
Family Muslim Food Stall
Clementi Market and Food Centre Block 353 Clementi Ave 2, #01-115

This stall's mee rebus has a comforting, homely flavour to it. The gravy is lighter in colour, and slightly thinner than most, but it's full-flavoured and appetising.
Opening hours: 7am to 2pm daily. Closed on Mondays
Price: $2.50
Rahim Muslim Food
793 Upper Serangoon Road Y2000 Eating House

The chicken mee rebus here is a must-try. The chicken is moist and tasty, and topped with delicious sauce which goes really well with the noodles.
The owner inherited this 50-year-old recipe from his father. The gravy is light and not too salty, and freshly chopped peanuts are added.
Opening hours: 11.30am to 8pm daily
Price: $2.50/$3(with chicken)
Goody 'N' Jolly
Parkway Parade, 80 Marine Parade Road, #B1-113

This stall has been operating for the past 13 years. Big eaters would love it here as the portions are generous.
If you like spicy food, this is probably right up your alley as the gravy is spicier than normal.
The noodles are topped with a generous serving of beansprouts and tofu.
Opening hours: 9.30am to 9.30pm daily. Closed on alternate Tuesdays
Price: $4
Killiney Curry Puff
93 Killiney Road

At first glance, the dish might look plain and boring. But the gravy is rich and savoury.
Moreover, the noodles are really springy and tasty.
Opening hours: 7am to 7.30pm on weekdays, 7am to 5pm on weekends
Price: $4

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