Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"Singapore Noodles" in Singapore?

Sin-Chew Fried Bee Hoon

"Singapore Noodles" is such a common menu item at Chinese restaurants in the US that you take it for granted. So of course it was a bit of an awakening when I arrived in Singapore a number of years ago to find that one could not get that stir-fried curry-powder-seasoned rice vermicelli dish here. No, it's not because they just call it "noodles" here...you can get noodles here of course, but just none of it with that signature curry powder that makes it "Singapore Noodles."

Hence, I was a bit intrigued when I saw "Sin-Chew Fried Bee Hoon" (effectively, Singapore Noodles) on the menu at this little smoky shack called Brastaji Halal Seafood at Apollo Centre (#01-02, 9119-0366). Could this perhaps be the elusive Singapore Noodles that I was looking for?

Nope. There definitely wasn't any curry powder in this thing. This was just a very simple plate of greasy rice vermicelli. How ironic it is when one of the only places to get "authentic" Singapore Noodles is in the US rather than Singapore. I guess I can't blame folks back home who find it a bit weird when I spend 16 hours to fly across the Pacific Ocean and request a plate of Singapore Noodles from a Chinese restaurant there.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't think Singapore Noodles actually originated in Singapore. Just like fortune cooks are actually something that was created in the US (San Francisco if I remember correctly).

felldownthestairs said...

In fact, I had a horrendous Australian rendition of Singapore Fried Noodles containing grease infested rice vermicelli, curry powder, capsicum and broccoli.

The Aussie Campbell company even tried to sell canned Laksa soup. Geez... I DARE NOT EVEN TRY.

Air said...

It is indeed a mystery...my American frens in NY say that anything that's sold in chinese takeouts that has curry in it will have the singapore thingee tagged on. That said, you've got to love some of those takeouts in the states that you cant get here....General Tso's chicken....and a favourite of mine just to say it out loud but not eat it...moo goo gai pan (all said in monotone). Wicked!

ClearTear said...

eh being singaporean, i never knew there is a singapore noodle. I only know there is a Xin Zhou Mee Fen (Singapore Vermicelli).

Its oily fried beehoon, with some shrimps, vegetables etc. A restaurant version of what we locals get for breakfast. Many of us get oily Fried beehoon (usually plain) get a sunny side up, luncheon meat for breakfast, top with sambal chilly for some.

Its not a significant dish, i think the US restaurant made it up lolz.

Singapore significant dish is our version of hainanese chicken rice, our version of laksa (not penang laksa), char kuey tiao, kok kok mee (no more), satay, roti prata.. a lot mix with malaysia stuff. Go to national museum of singapore, food gallery lah.

Stepmother said...

I don't think it orginiated from Singapore. In fact I only came across this dish few years when I was working in Malaysia. Sin-Chow Fried Bee Hoon and Sin-Chow Fried Rice.

Something close to the heart's of local here might be vermicelli fried with stewed pork, eggs and vegetables. Super arteries cloting though. There's a store at Bedok North Blk 85 market that serve this dish. Yummy!

Sophie said...

You know the place which you used to frequent, for white pepper crabs? Yes, no signboard seafood rest, they serve nasty sing-chow beehoon. I can only vouch for the beehoon at the geylang branch thou, you should try it!

Anyway, I was shock to know that singapore noodles even exist, when my australian friends told me how much they love it back in melbourne. Oddly, its not something that I knew or grew up with for 22 years!

tromperie said...

Yes, I agree that there is only Sin Chew Mee Fen which is sold at most zhi cha (zhu chao) stalls at coffee shops.

Btw, there's a restaurant that sells General Tso's chicken. The restaurant is Seletar Hills Restaurant at Jalan Selaseh (off Yio Chu Kang Rd). They serve other nice stuff too.

Also to note, a lot of the times, the US version is not the authentic version. It's usually catered to the US people's taste or expectations.

Camemberu said...

Yeah, despite the similarity in name, Sin Chew Fried Beehoon is a very different dish from the curryfied "Singapore Noodles" created in the US, so you can't really compare the two.

Karen said...

It's not just the US. You can't go to a Chinese restaurant here in the UK without seeing Singapore Noodles on the menu. There isn't a uniform version as far as I can tell; unless if you count greasiness.

Incoherent Ramblings said...

You can get Singapore Noodles in Vietnam!

creamyhorror said...

Like the other Singaporeans here I've never had "Singapore Noodles" back home. I had some here in Philly a few months back and they tasted quite unremarkable - bland vermicelli fried in curry powder really describes them well. It's obviously an entirely Chinese-American invention, just like fortune cookies.

Curry laksa is what I really miss at the moment. Oh, the sheer deliciousness of that rich coconut-curry broth.

Anonymous said...

To Travelling Hungry Boy:

The Singapore-noodles-with-curry-powder is a total cock-and-bull story made up in the U.S.!

There is NO SUCH THING AS SINGAPORE NOODLES WITH CURRY POWDER IN IT!

But if it tastes so good, I don't mind trying it in the U.S.... got any pic?

but then again, all asian food flavours are toned down to whet the appetites of caucasians overseas, HENCE...

Perhaps you can suggest that they rename it to the United States noodles.. kekek

Mike said...

Hello. I had a dish in Bugis Junction that, if memory serves me, they actually called Singapore Noodles. It was wide flat rice noodles with veggies and I believe shrimp with a curry based gravy. When I got back to the states, I saw Singapore noodles in a little Chinese carry out place and I ordered it in a flash. It was very different with ultra thin rice noodles and no gravy, but it had a distinct curry flavor. It's been over 10 years since I was in Singapore, I REALLY want to get back!

alvis36 said...

There used to be a restaurant called Wong Shing Kee in Russell St Melbourne that served the best Singapore noodles I have ever had anywhere in the world. I went there spasmodically for 25 years but now they have closed down. I asked the owner about the origins of the dish and he said that it is a Cantonese dish, giving the Canton image of a "Singapore dish" ie add curry powder. So the dish is originally from the Canton area

Ghazal Marvi said...

As other Singaporeans have also said above, "Singapore Noodles" is just an invention of Chinese restaurants in the US. In fact, most dishes served in Chinese American restaurants are not authentic. They are modified or invented to cater to western tastes.