Makansutra: Covid-proof beef noodle, ngoh hiang and Nonya dry laksa
Teochew dry beef noodle, Nonya dry laksa and ngoh hiang are star dishes this week
Covid or no Covid, deliciousness lives on in Singapore.
I was recently asked by a CNN journalist if our food has been affected in any way by the pandemic, which the rest of the world is still in the thick of.
I was stumped, and in my attempt to find some inspirational quote veering towards the negative, I could not utter anything significant.
Then it occurred to me that is why Singapore's food culture is so Unesco-worthy.
No one went hungry, all the great flavours were available even during the circuit breaker, although with a bit of inconvenience.
And since phase two kicked in, we can see all is well at the hawker centres and kopitiams, especially in the heartland as they feed the masses.
Town food traffic will take a little longer to get back to normal, but it is a matter of time.
In the midst of all the testing, social distancing and limited socialising, I continued with my job - finding some comforting delights as we knock on the door of phase three.
Teochew dry beef noodle at Gubak Kia, Stall 27B Timbre+, JTC Launchpad, 73A Ayer Rajah Crescent
11am to 3pm, closed Saturdays and Sundays
Mr John Paul Lim is the great-grandson of the legendary Tan Chin Sia of Hock Lam Street Beef Kway Teow fame.
His father David Lim is the son of Mr Tan's eldest daughter, who also helped at the street stall back in the day.
The Lims stuck to the original Teochew recipe, not offering the gooey-sauced Hainanese version, and went one up with this dry rendition ($7.90) with slices of beef shank, tendons, beef balls, lean meat and soft stomach slices.
The noodles are tossed in a soya sauce, beef essence with sesame oil, and drenched with the signature vinegary chilli sauce.
It is very hard to dissect just why this is so moreish. I just wash it down with the bowl of beefy soup provided.
Nonya dry laksa at Casa Bom Vento Express, Xin Tekka, Tekka Place Annex Building, 2 Serangoon Road
11am till sold out. Closed on Sundays and public holidays
Mr Lionel Chee shuttered his Casa Bom Vento restaurant some years ago and went into guiding tours. But Covid-19 cut him off, so he took a deep breath and opened Casa Bom Vento Express, recreating some of the comforting icons in his repertoire.
Among his popular Debal (Devil) Curry set and buah keluak blue pea rice set, the Nonya dry laksa ($8.20) stands out for me.
I watched how he put this together, as he wok-tossed his own rich laksa rempah which clung to the rice noodle. He rained some laksa leaf flecks over and topped it with a huge prawn.
It is definitely one of the star dishes at this food hall.
Ngoh hiang at Sim's Ngoh Hiang #01-29 Wiseng Food Place, 462 Crawford Lane
11am to 7.30pm, closed on Mondays
This family has stayed together and cooked together in this humble kopitiam stall - all six of them.
One take orders both offline and online, another rolls up the minced meat mixture with bean skin, another fries and one plates and serves, while an uncle does delivery and another chips in to handle the prawn fritters, beehoon and chicken wings.
The ngoh hiang ($4 a roll) is thick, very dense and the water chestnuts inserted in the mix do not get lost. Every bite is meaty, with sweet crunchy overtones. Order some of the fresh and well-fried chicken wings to complete this meal with a plate of beehoon.