I make it a point to drop by Raffles Hotel every time I'm in Singapore. As far as dim sum goes, the ones at Royal China, which is on the first floor (as in the second storey) of Raffles Hotel probably gives me the biggest bang for my buck. While it doesn’t offer the traditional trolley service that Yum Cha or Da Dong Lou do, the dim sum served at Royal China is of a fair standard. I can certainly be assured of having a quiet meal if I am to avoid the 1pm-2pm lunch hour rush.
This time round, I didn’t feel like having dim sum. Instead we took a stroll down Seah Street, which runs along the northeastern side of Raffles Hotel, hoping to grab some roti prata at one of the Indian Muslim stalls along that stretch. But something caught my eye just as I was about to step into the prata stall.
There was a banner right at the end of the shophouse row that reads “Hock Lam Street – popular beef kuay teow”. Believe it or not, I didn’t realize that it was a chain stall at that point in time. The idea of having a pipping hot kuay teow soup with thin beef slices suddenly became rather appealing.
On hindsight, I should have known. Hock Lam Street Beef Kuay Teow seemed too put together to be a one off stall. Accolades on newspaper cuttings and old photos (presumably of the original stall owner) filled the walls. Other than having the option of either the soup or dry variety, big or regular sized, I had to decide which type of noodles (thin, thick, flat, egg, rice) I wanted with my beef. It almost felt like Starbucks.
Our beef kuay teow soup arrived moments after we placed our orders. At S$6 for the regular portions, it was rather reasonably priced. The beef slices, still pink, had been barely dipped into the boiling soup. Just the way I imagined it to be. Both shrimp and chilli pastes were available upon request. The chilli’s heat had been somewhat toned down - if I could down that without breaking a sweat, it had to be. The kuay teow was rather limp. I had to literally spooned them in.
"Formerly at Purvis Street" also read Hock Lam's banner. There's a certain fascination about where a particular stall is at. There is a reason why restaurants and eateries in Singapore resisted plucking up and relocate despite increasing rents over the years - people have come to associate the location with quality. Thus Hock Lam proundly proclaimed that it was the beef kuay teow stall at Purvis Street, even though its current location along Seah Street is mere metres away.
Other than a group of Koreans who were chatting noisily away over their cool lime juice, we were the only ones at Hock Lam that afternoon. A fitting last lunch in Singapore I suppose. With a bowl of hot beef soup settling nicely in my stomach, I was all ready for the sub-ten degrees temperature of London.
This is a collection of food posts from a recent visit to Singapore. Also look out for Malaysian Food Street, Ayam Penyat Ria and Wok & Barrel.
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