If you happen to be in Chinatown, Singapore or more specifically China Street, there are 2 shops that you should not miss, depending on what you prefer.
First up is Hock Lam Beef Noodles, located at #22 China Street. This is a really ancient establishment, reportedly to be about a century old! They are still using the same ingredients as the original founder did. I was there on a quiet afternoon just after the lunch hour, everything was served within minutes.
Some prefer the dry version but if you’re looking for the original recipe, for that you need to order the soup version. It is very much commercialized already. You pick the beef noodle set that you want and they will serve it up almost instantly. Even the drinks are pre-packaged.
I like the taste of the soup which really is the mainstay of any respectable beef noodle. Plenty of soy sauce was added to get the dark colour, the beef itself was chewy and not to hard/tough. By the way, you just can’t order it rare or medium-rare, they are all well done.
If however, beef is not your choice of food, or due to religion, there is another shop just a few doors away — Ya Kun Kaya Toast at #18 China Street.
This is actually a franchise, so you need not have to travel all the way to Chinatown for it. They are also available at almost all the major shopping centres that are dotted around Singapore. But this particular branch at China Street is still manned by some of the descendants of the original Ya Kun.
Here, the bread is still toasted by charcoal instead of your usual bread toaster. They are sliced and spread with margarine plus kaya. Kaya is a gooey orange coloured sweet substance placed in between the bread to give it a sweet taste. It is to us, over here in the South East Asia, what peanut butter and jelly is to the West. The beauty of the toasted bread lies in the fact that when it is done, you would feel like eating crackers instead of bread, but with a soft center where the margarine and kaya lies.
Besides the bread, the other talking point would be its soft boiled eggs. Each and every one of them comes out of the eggshell perfectly without having to scoop it out with a spoon. And the best part is that they can do it every day for every dish!
Service is impeccably fast despite the fact that almost all of the waiters looked 60+ and above. If you prefer a nice place to sit and chat while enjoying your toast, this is the place to be!