Singapore’s century old flavor of noodles21 January, 2011 by Chad
The funny thing is that while Singaporeans will go through great lengths to support overseas franchises, it is generally frowned upon when local food businesses attempts to provide to the masses. Since its expansion from a humble shop at Purvis Street, Hock Lam Beef has attracted harsh feedback calling the newer branches “not authentic” or “too expensive”. Does it really deserve the hate?
It’s rare to find a local eatery with as rich as history as Hock Lam Beef. The Hock Lam Street Beef Kway Teow shop has been serving Teochew Beef Noodles in Singapore since 1911. The dish is not nearly as common as the local favorite Chicken Rice, as large percentage of the local Chinese population do not eat beef due to religious reasons.
It’s probably one of the least profitable food shops to open at a food court in Chinese majority Singapore. So it must had been a pretty mean feat for the original Hock Lam Beef shop to survive. But Hock Lam Beef didn’t just survive, it thrived. In fact Hock Lam Beef is considered the benchmark for beef noodles in Singapore.
Some time ago last year, I passed by this franchised branch at Bukit Panjang Plaza. The shop sees a loyal following of customers but was hardly packed. Perhaps it was late when we stopped by for dinner but we were the only customers here at this time.
Yan ordered their trademark dry beef noodles that they were most famous for. I foolishly went with the soup version but it was good too. The soup was flavorful and the beef tender. Apparently they prepare their soup base for 24 hours. The dish got lots of points from me for being presented neatly. It’s definitely a whole different level from the unappetizing mess of hawker food.
A set goes for $8.80 and comes with some sides. An affordable price, given the quality of the food and the joy of not having to suffer any crowds. Not surprisingly though, we’ve seen lots of hate online about the price point. But it’s funny that while Singaporeans are able to pay $15 for a bowl of ramen, they aren’t willing to give local cuisine the same chance.
Another one of the highlights to the Hock Lam name is their unique secret recipe chili sauce. It helps give the dish the extra punch needed to go from good to great.
For those who love their beef noodles, Hock Lam probably needs no introduction. But if you’re among those that haven’t heard of it, do give it a try. It may be more than what you’re used to paying for “local food” but if you can look pass that, Hock Lam actually offers a nice dining experience at a justified (if not affordable) price.
Far East Square
Far East Square
22 China Street
Bukit Panjang Plaza
1 Jelebu Road
949 Upper Serangoon Road
Supermerlion's Webmaster and Editor-in-Chief. Singaporean Nikkeijin with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. Producer at a Japanese entertainment company. Former Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Programmer, Manager and Consultant. Shoots with a Canon 5Dmk2 and Sony RX100-2.