Singapore - Lor Mee (Braised Hokkien Noodles) at Bukit Purmei
I'd always wondered what all the fuss was about - the unbelievably long lunch queue in front of this little stall selling "Lor Mee" (or Braised Noodles) in a coffeeshop in Bukit Purmei, an old residential suburb. A friend of mine said he grew up on this - the original noodle stall was run by the current owner's father in the 1950s!
Lor Mee is a Hokkien noodle dish (originating from the Fujian province in China) - yellow Hokkien noodles (sometimes mixed with thin rice noodles or bee hoon) are slathered with a thick, brown gluggy, gloopey cornstarch-thickened sauce (redolent of pork bones used to make the original stock). Garnishes included thinly-sliced char-siew (barbecued, caramelised pork), braised pork belly slices, crispy pork bits & batter, and sliced fish cakes. Lashings of black vinegar, a dollop of raw, minced garlic and spoonfuls of red chilli paste (plus freshly-cut red chillis for that extra oomph) & springs of fresh coriander are then added to the whole moolah.
Believe me - it tasted better than it sounds! The contrasting flavors - porky, vinegary, spiked with garlicky, ultra-spicy chilli concoction, and the textures - gooey sauce, slippery noodles, crunchy pork bits - are enough to convince me why Singaporeans are lining up for 30-45 minutes in the hot, humid coffeeshop, just to get a taste of this noodle dish. Personally, I'd come here if I'm in the neighborhood and can spare the time for a long lunch - else, it can be quite a daunting experience, with the crowds, the packed seating area and the oppressive tropical Singapore weather!
Lor Mee (Bukit Purmei)
Block 109, Bukit Purmei Road
Open: 7am-3.30pm (Closed on Mondays)