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Mad about mee - new noodle restaurants hit the food scene

Thai street noodle dish yentafo, "flying" udon and dessert bak chor mee are among delicious new noodle offerings here

Move aside grain bowls. Noodles are back on trend.

No fewer than five new noodle eateries have opened here in the past three months, selling everything from Thai-style beef noodles to pasta eaten from a bag.

Noodles are, after all, an affordable staple in the Asian diet, say owners of the noodle-centric eateries, who note that diners love everything from local hawker-style noodles to Japanese ramen, Italian pasta and Vietnamese pho.

Mr Kevin Khoo, 43, director of Now Noodles+ in Square 2, calls noodles "daily food".

The 70-seat eatery serves dishes such as mee tai mak, dry laksa and dry mee siam - all cooked in an aromatic rempah made from scratch. The recipes are from his aunt, who is a private chef.


Doodles co-founder Desmond Tan with his shop’s customisable cold noodles, which are served in a bag. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Mr Khoo says: "People can eat noodles every day as they are accessible. But we cannot be too normal like everyone else or too unique, if not diners will try us once and not come again."

For busy Singaporeans on the go, the cold noodles from Doodles in Tiong Bahru Plaza are a convenient option, as they come packed in a resealable bag.

Co-founder Desmond Tan, 27, says: "The willingness of Singaporeans to try new ways of consuming food bodes well for our quirky concept."

The concept - pick a type of noodle, followed by toppings - is a fancier version of the popular noodle street snack in Hong Kong.

At Noodle Bar by Tokyo Latte in JCube, diners can also customise their noodle dish. First choose from noodles such as cha soba and Nissin noodles, then pick a soup base. Future additions to the menu include new pasta and Asian noodle sections.

Adding to the love for Thai-style noodles is Kin Cow at Chinatown Point, which serves a more premium version of the popular boat noodles.

Owner Jethro Quek, 35, who has trained at Thai restaurant E-Sarn in Singapore, learnt his recipe from the owners of the famous Sud Yod boat noodle brand in Bangkok. Kin Cow diners can pick their favourite cut of meat and type of noodles.

Next month, the spotlight will shine on Thai street noodle dish yentafo, as Bangkok brand Yentafo Kruengsonge opens at Cathay Cineleisure Orchard.

Other restaurants are also getting creative with their noodle offerings to entice diners: "flying" udon suspended on chopsticks at Hana Restaurant in Forum The Shopping Mall; hiyashi gyomen, pink noodles made from fish, at Kyoaji in The Centrepoint; and even a dessert version of bak chor mee at Non Entree Desserts cafe in Rangoon Road.

PHOTO: HANA RESTAURANT
We were thinking of ways to encourage our customers to dip the somen in the special truffle sauce, instead of having it premixed because the somen can get soft very quickly.

HANA RESTAURANT CREATIVE DIRECTOR PEARLYN TAN on how its "flying", or suspended, noodles (above) were created

Non Entree's bak chor mee comprises mango vermicelli "noodles" and pudding, aged balsamic "vinegar", raspberry reduction "chilli", sesame snow "minced meat" and coconut "fishball" parfait.

Hana Restaurant's creative director Pearlyn Tan, 25, says it can sell more than 100 portions a day of the flying noodles. They were introduced a month ago and have captured plenty of attention on social media.

The options are flying salted egg yolk udon, flying cha soba with spam maki, and flying truffle somen with ikura and sakura ebi.

Ms Tan says: "We were thinking of ways to encourage our customers to dip the somen in the special truffle sauce, instead of having it premixed because the somen can get soft very quickly.

"Someone came up with the idea of keeping the noodles suspended so the customer takes only what he wants, hence flying noodles were born."

Indeed, the eye-catching noodles have been a hit with diners.

Student Sabrina Lim, 22, says: "I saw photos and videos of the flying noodles online and had to try it. My favourite is the flying truffle somen as I love the fragrant truffle sauce. I could eat this every day."

Engineer Dennis Tan, 36, a fan of the beef noodles at Chinatown Point's Kin Cow, says: "I like Thai boat noodles, but the normal portion can be very small and I have to order many bowls to feel full. I like the noodles at Kin Cow as they are a substantial meal for me and I can pick the cut of meat I like as well as the type of noodles."

•Follow Eunice Quek on Twitter @STEuniceQ


Eateries to try

KIN COW


PHOTO: KIN COW

Not keen to visit Golden Mile Food Centre for kuay teow reua or boat noodles? Head to Kin Cow at Chinatown Point, which specialises in Thai beef noodles (pictured).

The recipe is from Sud Yod, a famous boat noodle brand in Bangkok. But instead of dining at a stall, you eat in an air-conditioned restaurant here.

And in place of tiny portions of noodles, you get a sizeable meal. Pick your favourite cut of meat - brisket ($10.90), short rib ($12.90), sirloin ($14.90), ribeye ($17.90) or wagyu ($22.90) - then choose your noodles. Options include Thai thin rice noodles, glass noodles, thick rice noodles and Chinese egg noodles (mee kia). The noodles can be eaten dry or with soup.

Other dishes on the menu include Pad Thai ($11.90), Chiang Mai curry noodles ($13.90) and Thai omelette ($5.90).

Where: 02-34 Chinatown Point, 133 New Bridge Road

Open: 11.30am to 3pm, 6 to 10pm (Tuesdays to Fridays); 11.30am to 10pm (weekends); closed on Mondays

Info: Call 6514-9265 or go to www.facebook.com/kincowsingapore

NOW NOODLES+

For a hearty noodle meal, go to this six-week-old eatery at Square 2. The fried mee tai mak ($9.80) is the highlight. The noodles are stir-fried in a fragrant and spicy rempah with minced prawns and pork, fish cake, sliced mushrooms, fried egg and diced century egg. The other options are satisfying too, such as the dry laksa, dry mee siam and Heng Hwa noodle soup - all at $9.80 each.

Where: 02-65 Square 2, 10 Sinaran Drive

Open: 11am to 9pm daily

Info: www.facebook.com/nownoodles

YENTAFO KRUENGSONGE


PHOTO: YENTAFO KRUENGSONGE

Thailand's street noodle dish of yentafo may not be very popular in Singapore yet. This is likely to change once Yentafo Kruengsonge from Bangkok opens its first Singapore outlet at Cathay Cineleisure Orchard on Nov 1.

The dish has rice noodles in a light savoury broth, with a mildly sweet and spicy pink yentafo sauce made with fermented red tofu and cooked Thai red rice.

The brand was founded in 1999 and has 28 outlets in Bangkok and two in Laos.

In Singapore, four choices of yentafo are available, with flat noodles and pink sauce shipped from Bangkok. The Yentafo Kruengsonge soup (pictured) features flat rice noodles topped with ingredients such as fish ball, squid ball, fish ball with tofu, fried tofu, fried seasoned taro and black fungus mushroom.

A dry version is also available and diners can choose from three levels of spiciness.

Other noodle options include tom yam noodles (soup or dry), Thai clear soup noodles with fish balls, and dry noodles with fish balls. Prices range from $6.50 to $9.

The menu also features appetisers, rice dishes and desserts.

The brand's entry here is a collaboration with Minor Food Group Singapore. Yentafo Kruengsonge's next two outlets, to open within the year, will be at National University Hospital and Kallang Wave mall. Other brands under the group include the ThaiExpress chain of casual Thai restaurants and French bistro chain Poulet.

Where: 02-06A/B Cathay Cineleisure Orchard, 8 Grange Road

Open: From Nov 1

Info: Call 6736-0971

DOODLES

Eating noodles from a plate or bowl is too mainstream. Slurp up noodles from a bag instead at three-month-old Doodles in Tiong Bahru Plaza.

Pick from three types of noodles - angel hair pasta, Korean naengmyeon or fusilli pasta. Then choose from 40 toppings such as quail egg, smoked duck breast, Thai basil pork, smoked salmon, spicy Thai pacific clam and marinated octopus.

Finally, select a sauce. Options include truffle XO, sesame and spicy.

All the ingredients are placed in a resealable bag, making it easy to shake it all up with the dressing.

A basic noodle set starts at $4, with more top-up options available, along with cold-pressed juices ($4).

Where: B1-111 Tiong Bahru Plaza, 302 Tiong Bahru Road

Open: 11am to 9.30pm daily

Info: Call 6702-4311 or go to www.facebook.com/doodles.sg

NOODLE BAR BY TOKYO LATTE


PHOTO: NOODLE BAR BY TOKYO LATTE

This noodle bar at JCube in Jurong East puts a Japanese spin on noodles.

First, pick noodles and a base ($6.50). Noodle options are ramen, cha soba, udon and Nissin noodles.

For the soup base, choices include the signature roasted tomato basil with seafood (pictured), curry with chicken karaage, and bonito kombu with seafood.

Complete your meal with the addition of ponzu roasted chicken ($3.50), teriyaki salmon fillet ($5.50) or soft shell crab ($6.50).

The eatery also has a small selection of other dishes, including fish and chips ($7.50) and grilled salmon with shredded vegetable tempura don ($9.50).

Where: 02-03 JCube, 2 Jurong East Central 1

Open: 11.30am to 10pm daily

Info: Call 6262-6803 or go to www.facebook.com/noodlebarbytokyolatte

KL TRADITIONAL CHILLI BAN MEE

When the popular Kin Kin Chilli Pan Mee from Kuala Lumpur opened in Singapore two years ago, it drew crowds willing to queue for up to two hours. Now, a new competitor - KL Traditional Chilli Ban Mee - has opened on the same stretch along MacPherson Road.

Items on the menu include its signature chilli ban mee ($5), handmade fishball noodle ($5) and minced pork noodle ($5).

For a more indulgent meal, go for the signature abalone combo chilli ban mee ($13), which includes scallops and clams.

Where: 476 MacPherson Road

Open: 11am to 7pm daily

Info: bit.ly/2dFlXT7

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 23, 2016, with the headline 'Oh mee, oh my'. Print Edition | Subscribe