Wednesday, 28 October 2015
Legendary Cart Noodles from Hong Kong to Singapore JK1278
I was invited to a tasting at the newly opened Legendary Cart Noodles 傳奇車仔面 at Jurong Point at Boon Lay MRT station. The iconic cart noodles is to Hong Kongers what bak chor mee is to Singaporeans. (Unlike cart noodles which first appeared in 1950s Hong Kong, the other popular HK dish wanton noodles has it's origins in Guangzhou.)
Early cart noodles use discards like innards and poor cuts of meat, and eaten with lots of noodles with bone and skin broth. Cooked in wash basins mounted on rickety wood plank and nail push carts on bicycle wheels, cart noodles is a symbol of Hong Kong's hungrier, leaner years. It's sometimes seen in the backdrop of Hong Kong movies and TV productions.
Push cart noodle 車仔麵 is also known as "dirty noodles" 嗱喳麵. Push cart and dirty - you get the picture.
Perhaps to Hong Kongers, cart noodles is a symbol of how far the now glitzy territory has come in a single lifetime. A symbol of from rags to riches. Resourcefulness. Ruggedness. Resilience. Tenacity.
It's ironic but it's like flaunting success by going back to the humble street level. (Our attachment to hawker food has many reasons and I wonder if it has an element of that too.)
Stepping into level 3 of Jurong Point, one might think that s/he is suddenly in Kowloon, Hong Kong. A meal of cart noodles will certainly complete your "Hong Kong" experience ;-D
Legendary Hong Kong cart noodle is eaten standing, perched on bar stools at cocktail tables or is taken away. Very informal and casual.
The ordering protocol is very simple too.
First choose your carbs - mainly noodles like mee kia, mee pok, kway teow etc. There is also an option of plain white rice. Price SGD1 to 1.50.
Step two is to choose your add ons (toppings). The wide selection of add ons is one of the key features of Hong Kong cart noodles.
At Legendary Cart Noodles, there are over 20 different types of add ons such as curry fish balls, beef innards, pork innards, fried and braised pig skin etc (prepared at the kitchen of Legendary Hong Kong). Price SGD1 to SGD3.
You can choose as much or as little as you like, which is partly why cart noodles is so popular.
The third step is to choose your sauce - there are Hong Kong style curry, satay sauce, beef brisket etc
The staff will scoop their signature broth into you bowl of noodles and add ons, and then add in your choice of sauce.
Easy as 1, 2, 3.
The cart noodle is served in disposable plastic tubs and eaten with disposable spoon and chopsticks. I like it that HK cart noodles is unapologetically pragmatic and it doesn't have the need to be anything else.
Inside my tub of noodles with my choice of add ons.
Everything is soaking in a tub of broth and our choice of sauce. I chose Hong Kong style curry sauce.
The blend of broth and curry sauce is a winner to me :-D
The savoury sweet broth had good body and rich layered savoury flavours as it is made by boiling chicken, duck, pork ribs and char-grilled fish for hours. The broth blends well with the mildly spicy sweet Hong Kong style curry.
Next time, I will try the other sauces like satay and beef brisket.
I chose the mee kia type noodles. The Hong Kong made noodles tasted like those easy to cook dried egg noodles sold at supermarkets. The noodles have a soft crunch but the dry kind that lacks the "life" and aroma of fresh egg noodles. The noodles do not have alkaline taste (a plus point for most people).
I initially told my host Katie that I have never eaten Hong Kong cart noodles before. But, when I bite into this fish ball, I suddenly remembered that I did buy curry fish balls in a Styrofoam bowl from a street side stall and ate it at an old street corner in Kowloon (long, long ago). As I ate, I was looking at the looming towers around me, hurrying people and rumbling stop-go traffic from the vantage point of a stationary street corner push cart noodle stand.
I love the experience which was vaguely like a scene from a Hong Kong TVB drama ;-p But, I didn't like the fish ball much as it collapsed like a tiny punctured rubber ball when I bite into it.
In terms of texture and flavour, Legendary Cart Noodles' cuttlefish is somewhere between grilled cuttle fish and the boiled kind (used in Singapore's satay bee hoon). Actually, as it was quite dry, it was closer to grilled cuttlefish though thicker.
This big intestine 大腸 was really good - it was tender, spongy, very well cleaned and more flavoursome than intestines at many Singapore kway chap stalls. Next time, I shall pile my bowl of cart noodles with all the different types of intestines such as small intestines.
When eating Cantonese, I must have braised white radish whenever it is available. I just love the savoury sweet braising sauce soaked into the tender piece of white radish like a drippy wet sponge.
Click to view video ^
The history of the humble cart noodles and Hong Kong through the story and family behind popular 車仔麵之家 (灣仔).
You can relive a bit of your Hong Kong experience or learn something about Hong Kong at Legendary Cart Noodles.
Please note that this is an invited food tasting.
Restaurant name: Legendary Cart Noodles 傳奇車仔面
Address: 63 Jurong West Central 3, #03-89, Jurong Point 2 Shopping Centre, Singapore 648331
GPS: 1.338650, 103.705989
Hours: 11:00am to 10:00pm
Date visited: 26 Oct 2015
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