Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lao Da Hua at VivoCity's Food Republic

Bak Chor Mee

Tai Wah Pork Noodle is probably my favorite noodle stall in Singapore. So when the Sunday Times published a story today on the family feud resulting from a third brother advertising his new stall at VivoCity's plasticky Food Republic, my curiosity was piqued. Was there going to be much of a difference between it and Tai Wah?

There was...a bit. The most obvious difference was the broth on the side: here at Lao Da Hua, it was a clear salty thing garnished with cilantro, whereas the one at Tai Wah was cloudy and hearty due the the pork bits. I didn't get a wonton in today's bowl, and the dried fish topping didn't seem as edgy as I recall Tai Wah's being. I thus preferred Tai Wah, although this rendition was close. Fortunately, the meatballs - one of my favorite items in Tai Wah's bowls - tasted similar enough.

Interestingly, it wasn't until this news story came out did I realize that the spelling difference between Tai Hwa at Crawford Lane and Tai Wah at the Bestway Building (and Hong Lim Food Centre) was intentional. I always thought that they were used interchangeably, since the food at both Tai Hwa and Tai Wah generally tasted the same to me. Either way, it's interesting to see this family noodle shop rivalry and the resulting variations on the name; it sounds a bit like TK Noodle versus Luu New Tung Kee in Northern California, which eerily are also some of my favorite noodle shops.


Kathy said...

This reminds me of the Rochor beancurd family feud.

Hey sorry for sending you to a boring place like Lao Xinjiang, I do like the grilled corn though.

Is the one at Bestway building related to them too?

bma said...

Yes, according to that news story.

P.S. Please keep the recommendations coming. I'm sure that there were plenty of other things worth trying at Lao Xinjiang - I was merely making a comparison of the skewers, that's all.

Kathy said...

I ate at the original place recently, and from what I compared with your photos, you seemed to have missed out their dumplings. I saw them in another customer's bowl and asked about them.

Apparently, these are teochew style dumplings. I was told you could either request for it in the $5 bowl (they offered me that), or as a separate bowl of soup with meatballs thrown in.

They aren't full of filling unlike cantonese ones, they had this slightly smoky taste to it. The skin has this flowy texture, pretty interesting.

As for Lao Xinjiang, stick with the dry noodles, some of the soup ones have a layer of oil on it. The noodle chef is particularly moody, he once made soup style Zha Jiang Mian. OMG!

You are right about the monotony of the powder they use, though I do like their grilled mantou. Their cold dishes are not that great either, just good to have when eating skewers.

This shop called Shandong, with blue signboard, at Lorong 21 I believe, has much better cold dishes. Again, food presentation (though not quality) will fluctuate depending on the chef's mood, but overall it's much better than Lao Xinjiang which is only good for the skewers, imho.