Monday, 29 August 2016
Lai Heng Mushroom Minced Meat Mee Toa Payoh Singapore 来兴香菇肉脞面 ⭐⭐⭐✱✱
Lai Heng Mushroom Minced Meat Mee in Toa Payoh has always ranked in the top band of Singapore bak chor mee. This was my first time tasting Lai Heng's noodles even though I spent the bulk of my teens in Toa Payoh.
When you come to Lai Heng, the first thing you will notice is that there is no queue. Which, of course, is very strange for a popular hawker stall in Singapore.
Well, don't be deceived. Lai Heng has a queuing system where customers pay at the counter first, given a number tag, wait at their tables and return to the counter only when their number is displayed on the LED paging system - just like at a Singapore polyclinic. The paging alert even goes dng~ dng~~ exactly like the way it sounds at a polyclinic.
And, we were left to wonder when is it ever going to be our turn - like how we feel at a polyclinic. We waited about 30 minutes during off peak hours. Well, to pass the time, we "copied" the smart locals snacking on the greasy crispy fried pork cracklings.
I looked around me at Nghee Huat coffee shop and most people here were having Lai Heng's bak chor mee.
I started with a soupy bowl of mee kia (slender yellow noodles). Lai Heng's regulars like this, so I wanted to see what it was about. (This is the SGD4 serving.)
The relatively clear soup was watery, light bodied. The flavour was mainly mildly savoury with hints of sweetness. It's tasty though it doesn't have layers of flavours i.e. it was relatively flat tasting but nice.
The generic yellow noodles were cooked al dente with a rather pronounced firmness which many people liked, including myself.
The al dente noodles and clean tasting broth combine well with the spongy savoury braised mushroom, nicely done pork liver slices, lean pork slices, shell fish slices and bits of crispy pork crackling to create a dish which is filling, comforting and satisfying.
When I asked the uncle and auntie regulars here what brings them back to Lai Heng all these years, they said it's like a habit, a lifestyle, and that old familiar taste which they enjoyed. Nothing very specific but lots of nostalgia and "feeling".
Lai Heng's Teochew "Ah Hia" boss who looks in his late 50s said he has been selling bak chor mee since he was 15 years old. He said he started at Toa Payoh block 102 before coming here at block 51 after several shifts through the years.
I wanted to try a mee pok tah (flat ribbon noodles served "dry" with sauce) but they were already sold out (before 11:00am). So, I had to settle for mee tai mak (lou shi fun or rat tail noodles).
I like Lai Heng's mee tai mak dry 😋
I never like generic mee tai mak because they are often made with too much tapioca or corn starch so that they feel plasticky gummy and are more or less tasteless. But, these mee tai mak at Lai Heng have a good ratio of rice so they have a softer texture and have a rice feel and taste.
Tossed in a blend of lard, black vinegar and house made sambal chili and eaten with minced pork, lean pork slices, liver slices, braised mushroom, and lard cracklings - each mouthful is loaded with delicious savoury spicy flavours and an interesting jumble of soft tender plus crispy textures.
3-Star Lai Heng Mushroom Minced Meat Mee serves filling and satisfying bak chor mee which won it a large loyal following, especially among Toa Payoh folks.
Restaurant name: Lai Heng Mushroom Minced Meat Mee 来兴香菇肉脞面
Address: Blk 51, Lorong 6, Toa Payoh, Singapore (stall in Nghee Huat Eating House 义发美食)
GPS: 1°20'15.9"N 103°51'08.1"E / 1.337749, 103.852248
Hours: 8:00am to 4:00pm (Weds off)
Date visited: 29 Aug 2016
Return to Johor Kaki homepage.