Loud banging on the countertop can be a sweet sound - when it is the signal that handmade noodles are being prepared right on the premises.
That is what draws me to four-month-old Hometown Cuisine in Toa Payoh, a Chinese noodle eatery that always has a fresh batch of dough waiting to be pounded, pulled, folded and cut or stretched as soon as an order is placed.
The choices run from the more common la mian (pulled noodles) and dao xiao mian (knife-shaven noodles) to something with the headline-grabbing name of biang biang mian - flat, hand-pulled noodles that are as wide as a belt.
My favourite dish at the moment is the pork rib noodles ($6.50), with the choice of che mian, which is similarly flat but less wide than biang biang mian and thus more chewy.
The meat on the ribs, braised in herbs and spices, packs a wallop of flavour. It is tender, falls easily off the bone and is a great accompaniment to the often impossibly long strands of noodles.
Readers who have been to Xi'an, the capital of the central Chinese province of Shaanxi, will be familiar with the types of noodles the eatery offers - the "Hometown" in its name refers to the Chinese city. The noodle master, Mr Liu Xiaoping, 28, has more than 10 years of experience at his craft.
Block 190, Toa Payoh Lorong 6, 01-572, open: 11am to 9pm daily
Rating: 4/5 stars
I cannot wait to try the dumplings and pumpkin congee. I have high hopes that they will be as good as the rou jia mo ($4.50), or Chinese burger, which has a lean-pork version of chopped-up fillings and flatbread buns. Said to be a popular street food in Shaanxi, the eatery's version scores with its well-seasoned stewed meat and housemade buns.
The zha jiang mian ($5.50), or soya bean paste noodles, the first dish I tried at the eatery, is also one of the best versions I have had - the lean minced meat is a standout.
Not having been to Xi'an, I cannot tell how authentic the food on offer is, but what I can say is that it is food made with care and pride and with faultless service in spotlessly clean premises.
It is a combination that has been pulling in a steady stream of customers despite the rather remote corner of Toa Payoh it is in, where even popular local coffee shop chain Killiney Kopitiam, which previously occupied the premises, lasted barely three months.
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