TNP tries: Michelin-starred Bak Chor Mee
Our mission was to try the best Bak Chor Mee (pork noodles) in Singapore.
The best had been decided last month by the gourmet guide giant Michelin and those who got stars were not just the high-end places of Puck, Ramsay and that ilk.
The inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore was announced on July 21 and was a big event for local street food too.
Both Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle were recognised as some of the best food in Singapore... according to Michelin inspectors, at least.
To be awarded one star by Michelin is an honour that few restaurants in the world possess, never mind hawker stalls.
The Bib Gourmand that had been announced earlier also had praised some stalls, and caused the expected arguments over the inclusions and omissions.
The knock-on effect for the lauded stalls was increased traffic and, of course, longer queues and waiting times.
Along with my fellow TNP reporter Joanne Goh, we set off to Crawford Lane off North Bridge Road to see what the fuss was about.
Our lack of navigation skills meant relying on the directions given to us by passer-bys instead of trusting Google Maps.
"It's over there. But be prepared to queue. At least 1 1/2 hours," the kind stranger said.
He was not kidding. The queue was long. When we arrived at 12.20pm, the line already had more than 30 people waiting in anticipation of world class bak chor mee.
The writer's reaction to the queue
So we stood... and waited... and waited.
After what felt like an age, the queue had barely moved more than a few steps. But after checking my watch, I realised that it was just five minutes after the last time I checked.
After 80 minutes in line, we finally got to order.
Miss Goh ordered the small bowl ($5), while I ordered the largest ($10).
If you are going to wait that long for award-winning noodles, you have to go big.
Or maybe I was affected by the hunger from the queueing. Standing in line for almost 1 1/2 hours can do that to a man.
Ms Goh, moments after her long wait
So to the meat of the issue - the food.
Sitting down to eat provided the first peasant surprise.
The light fragrance of the dish beckoned us to pick up chopsticks and commence war on the noodles.
As I savoured the first bite, my tastebuds experienced an odd sensation.
I have never been a fan of vinegar, but as I tasted the sour, I was not as put off by it as I usually was. It wasn't the strong sour taste that often comes with vinegar-based dishes. It was mild and subtle. The flavour version of a surprisingly good support act to the main performance.
And then came the bursts of saltiness and umami.
The flavours exploded as the noodles rested on my taste buds. It was all blended in perfect harmony.
The two bowls of noodles we bought.
All the ingredients had been cooked to perfection: the pork pieces were incredibly tender, and the noodles were soft and chewy. The large bowl also offered other ingredients - fried fish skin that gives a crunchy contrast, along with the occasional bursts of umami from the fried pork lard.
The soup, with its light and flavourful taste of pork, served to complement the main dish.
One bite, and I couldn't stop myself from finishing the rest.
Even Ms Goh, who confesses to never finishing most dishes, polished hers off.
Our conclusion: The queue is worth it.
Best in the country? Some may argue and defend the alternatives but this is a definite must-try.
It left two happily full reporters seriously considering getting straight back into the queue.