There are a few uniquely Singapore dishes which foodie visitors should not miss when they are in Singapore. One of them is the humble street food, satay bee hoon 沙嗲米粉.
Satay bee hoon found almost exclusively in Singapore is a fusion dish of Chinese with Indonesian/ Malay elements. Even in Singapore, satay bee hoon is not very mainstream, unlike say chicken rice, though I personally feel SBH deserves a lot more recognition.
The origins of this unique dish is unclear, and indeed it's very future is uncertain. The number of satay bee hoon stalls are declining as stall holders retire without successors.
Centre Satay Bee Hoon in Ang Mo Kio Central (near AMK MRT station) which has been serving this dish for over 30 years is among the most popular SBH stalls in Singapore. Ang Mo Kio Centre is an old haunt of mine as I used to live across the street at Block 119.
The ingredients of satay bee hoon are cuttlefish, prawn, pork, cockles, kang kong (greens), tau pok (fried bean curd) and bee hoon (rice vermicelli).
At Centre Satay Bee Hoon, the ingredients were doused with a big splash of thick satay gravy, blanketing it with rich but well balanced savoury, sweet, spicy and peanutty flavours. I like it that the ground peanut was cooked till it was soft and the gravy wasn't overly greasy.
Besides the satay gravy, I always associate satay bee hoon with soft crunchy cuttlefish (which in the case of satay bee hoon, is actually rehydrated dried squid).
The cuttlefish was cut into small strips. They had a slight savoury sweet cuttlefish taste. It had the distinct mouth feel of cuttlefish - a soft springy crunchiness.
There was a single good size prawn in my plate. No much prawn flavour but it too had a nice soft crunchiness.
The siham (mud cockles) were not big but they were very clean and fresh. Again, nice soft crunchiness and very slight siham type of salty flavour.
A couple of thinly sliced fresh lean pork, cooked just right with natural sweetness.
The tau pok softened by blanching and soaking in the satay gravy sponged up the sauce's flavours.
Centre Satay Bee Hoon provides a good sambal chili sauce which is spicy balanced with savoury sweetness. The savouriness is from hae bee (dried shrimps) blended into the sauce.
Finally, the bee hoon which I wasn't expecting much as it was generic factory made; the same supermarket kind we use at home.
However, the stall holder was able to cook it to a soft crunchy mouth feel that went very well with the clingy satay sauce and the various soft crunchy ingredients.
It is worth trying this, if you are in Ang Mo Kio Centre. If you are a foodie tourist, do try a satay bee hoon before your leave Singapore. You won't find this dish anywhere else in the world.
Restaurant name: Centre Satay Bee Hoon 中心沙嗲米粉
Address: Ang Mo Kio Market & Food Centre, Blk 724 Ang Mo Kio Ave 6 #01-12, Singapore
Hours: 11:00am to 9:00pm (Closed on Tues)
Date visited: 17 Feb 2015
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