To me, fried Hokkien prawn mee 炒福建虾面 is one of the truly Singapore street food dishes. Step outside of Singapore, and you will have a hard time looking for this dish, let alone finding a good one. Not even just across the Causeway in Johor Bahru.
The best fried Hokkien mee stalls are only in Singapore.
Tian Tian Lai Come Daily Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee 天天来炒福建虾面 is one of the most popular in Singapore.
Steven has been frying Hokkien prawn mee for nearly 50 years in Toa Payoh since 1968. He is one of the pioneer hawkers of Toa Payoh.
His son Jason took over the wok for a short while before pursuing his current career in property with PropNex. If you need advice on property, give Jason a call at +65 9100 1173.
In the 1970s, I walked pass Tian Tian Lai fried Hokkien mee stall countless times between my school, First Toa Payoh Secondary and my home in Block 65 (now demolished) Toa Payoh.
We had a good laugh when I joked that the First Toa Payoh boys were the real pie kias (bad boys). Real nasty rascals, not just wannabes who thought it is cool to act tough to impress pubescent girls ;-p
I have to confess that I have never tasted Tian Tian Lai fried Hokkien mee till today. Incredible as it may sound, there was a time when fried Hokkien was an unaffordable luxury for me and my family.
By the time I could afford fried Hokkien prawn mee anytime I wish, I have long moved from Toa Payoh.
So this was my first taste of Tian Tian Lai Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee (SGD4 per serving).
Hmm! it was great!
All the complex flavours and aromas dance delightfully like poised ballerinas on our taste buds and nose.
(Of course, I have tasted countless other Hokkien mee before this.)
The best way to eat fried Hokkien mee is to scoop it up with a soup spoon; forget the chopsticks.
The bee hoon, yellow noodles and bean sprouts were tossed and braised in the gummy heavy broth in the deep wok till they were soft and in bits and pieces.
The yellow noodles, bee hoon, bean sprouts and belly pork strips, eggs, pieces of squid, pork lard crackles and some prawns were smothered in a savoury sweet sauce with strong crustacean as well as lard aromas and flavours.
The whole thing was a like a soggy mess; the "tastiest soggy mess" if I may paraphrase Anthony Bourdain who called another dish, char kway teow the "tastiest ugly mess".
The whole package of flavours and aromas is just smothering goodness as it worked it's way from the tongue to the nasal passages.
Lovely beyond words.
If you need it, a squeeze of fresh lime adds a touch of tang and zingy acidity to the savoury sweet dish. The sambal chili with ground dried prawns add savoury spiciness to the flavours.
I just enjoy the well balanced harmony of aromas and flavours of the fried Hokkien prawn mee by itself.
Don't be deceived if you see no queue at Tian Tian Lai Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee (I was). You pay at the stall and return to your seat to wait in comfort for your food to be served. Waiting time is about 30 minutes.
Tian Tian Lai Come Daily Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee is on the upper floor of the two level food centre and wet market.
The food centre upstairs is bright, clean, cool and airy. Though it can be quite crowded during peak hours, it is very comfortable.
If you are visiting Singapore, don't leave the island without trying uniquely Singapore style fried Hokkien mee.
Restaurant name: Tian Tian Lai Come Daily Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee 天天来炒福建虾面
Address: Toa Payoh Lorong 1 Food Centre, Blk 127 Toa Payoh Lorong 1 #02-27, S310127 Singapore
GPS: 1.338512, 103.844050
Hours: 09:30am - 2:00pm (Closed on Monday)
Tel: 6251 8542/ 9671 7071
Date visited: 26 Apr 2015
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