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Cheap & Good

Crunchy cod and nuanced gravy make Zhen Hao’s lor mee the breakfast of champions

Some people have rules for breakfast that I do not understand.

Chief among these is a puzzling one about how cake is not suitable breakfast food.

Why not? Leftover birthday cake is terrific for breakfast and so is feather-light chiffon cake, especially with a cup of coffee.

In Singapore, common sense prevails, thank goodness.

People think nothing of eating rice or a hearty bowl of noodles for breakfast. Piles of prata make an excellent morning meal too.

Some, however, might draw the line at lor mee, noodles in a thick sauce, but it is the breakfast of champions as far as I am concerned.

  • ZHEN HAO NOODLES

  • Block 861 North Bridge Road, North Bridge Road Market & Food Centre, 01-97 open: 7pm to 1pm (Monday to Saturday), closed on Sunday

    Rating: 3/5 stars

Recently, after collecting my new passport at the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore in Kallang Road, I hop over to North Bridge Road Market & Food Centre for breakfast.

Now, I could have had a cup of coffee with bread and eggs from Ah Lim Coffee House, you know, proper breakfast food. But the siren call of lor mee from Zhen Hao Noodles is one I cannot resist.

Evidently, others cannot either because the stall is open from 7pm until 1pm the next day, which is to say it is possible to get a bowl of lor mee at 4am.

The stall sells three variations of lor mee: the fully loaded Treasures ($6), with braised pork belly, fritters, egg and fried fish collar; Traditional ($4); and Cod Fish Fillet ($5).

I ask for the cod fish option and start to have misgivings when the hawker pops the pre-fried fish fillet, which had been sitting in the display case, into the deep fryer for a second time. How can this be good?

And yet, it is.

The thin batter emerges from the fryer crisp and not even the thick gravy can dull the phenomenal crunch of it.

Other assorted deep-fried fritters, well and truly dunked in the gravy, retain their crunch too.

I could have done with more raw garlic, but the gravy, subtly spiced with what I am guessing are cinnamon and star anise, has nuance that is rare in lor mee. A splash of black vinegar counteracts the richness.

However, while it tastes good, the gravy is a tad thick and gluggy. If there is one thing I can change, that would be it.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 12, 2016, with the headline 'Lor mee that's irresistible'. Print Edition | Subscribe