Let’s boycott Singapore Noodles

I suppose I should feel proud for Singapore that you can find Singapore Noodles in almost every Asian restaurant menu in the UK (and probably in the USA as well).

Okay, except Japanese and Korean ones. They’re pretty specialised.

But go to a Thai or Vietnamese or Chinese or Malay restaurant and you’ll see Singapore Noodles. And Singapore would usually be the only country you see under the noodle category.

 

Chinese restaurant menu

 

Sometimes they call it Singapore Fried Noodles, or other similar variations, but it’s all the same thing.

You know my beef with Singapore Noodles. There is no such thing in Singapore. Nothing in Singapore looks or tastes remotely like it.

Instead of feeling proud, I feel a bit embarrassed because people all over the world must think we like that atrocity and eat it all the time.

 

Google image search

 

It’s a good thing that the guy who did the Wiki page on that dish knows what’s going on. Here, I quote:

The dish appears on the menu of almost all Chinese-style (mainly Cantonese-style) eateries in Hong Kong, the dish is also very popular in English, Australian and American Chinese cuisine. It is important to note that Singapore style noodles is not a cultural product of Singapore and is virtually non-existent in Singapore. Its naming may have been based on the stereotype that Singapore cuisine is generally spicy, and might have originated from an enterprising restaurateur eager to add a dash of exoticism to his menu.

How stupid is that?

I mean the fact that some stupid bloke created this stupid dish and used our country’s name in vain.

I think there should be some law that says you need to get permission to use a country’s name in your product. Otherwise, people all over the world could end up being confused and misled.

 

Singapore Fried Egg

 

And how strange that people actually like Singapore Noodles. People who like it should go to Singapore for a gastronomic education, then you’ll not want to eat it again.

So what is wrong with Singapore Noodles in England?

Firstly, the noodle used is wrong. They call it rice noodle here. I’m not sure what we call it in Singapore because we don’t eat noodles like that in Singapore.

Secondly, curry powder is a key ingredient. We don’t usually use that in our fried noodles in Singapore.

It’s nothing like the delicious Curry Maggi Mee Goreng you can find in Malaysia, maybe also in Singapore but I think Malaysians do it better.

 

Maggi Mee Goreng

 

Okay, to be fair, I’ve only sampled Singapore Noodles once in Australia and once in England, but that’s already two times too many.

I’ve seen many variations, though, either in menu photos or at takeaway counters and they never look the least bit appealing, so I can never bring myself to augment my sampling data.

I recently tried it at a popular Chinese restaurant in the seaside town of Weymouth. It looks really good, actually. The first Singapore Fried Noodles I’ve seen in real life that looks edible.

But then I put it in my mouth and my appetite tendered its resignation.

 

Singapore Fried Noodles

 

Very strong curry power taste. Eew.

Noodle is soft and gross, a bit like overcooked cup noodles.

If only they’d use real vermicelli and give the curry powder a miss. It could actually taste decent.

Well, actually, I don’t know what real vermicelli is. Okay, they should just use what we use in Singapore, which is the white, thin and firm variety of vermicelli. Then it’ll be more like the sin chew bee hoon that Singapore Noodles supposedly took its inspiration from.

(And here’s another stupidity: Sin chew bee hoon does not originate from Singapore, either. It’s from Hong Kong or China, I’m not sure.)

 

Rice vermicelli

 

Anyway, I can’t say for sure that all Singapore Noodles are disgusting, but I can’t be too optimistic about it, either.

I enjoyed the other stuff we ordered at the Chinese restaurant where I tried the Singapore noodles.

It’s called Ming Wah Restaurant and enjoys a thriving business.

It’s over an hour’s drive from where we live and Piers used to drive there just to buy one specific dish that he loves, the Crispy Shredded Beef.

 

Crispy Shredded Beef

 

It tastes exactly like sweet and sour pork does in Singapore, even though it’s beef. You can’t really taste the meat type anyway because the sauce is so strong. Ming Wah does it really well. The sauce is just the right blend of sweet and sour and the batter remains crispy to the end.

It was Piers’ first time eating in the restaurant. He always used to do takeaways, so he’s used to eating the beef a bit soggy. And he would buy four boxes each time to store in the fridge and eat cold over the next few days.

So used is he to the dish being cold and soggy that he was actually disappointed by the crispy, hot version.

Crazy ang moh!

Okay, side track a bit first. Here are the other things we ate at Wing Wah:

 

Fried finger foods
Fried wan ton, king prawns in batter, salt and pepper squid

 

I loved the fried wan ton. It’s fried in the thin popiah skin which is my favourite kind. The prawn filling was generous, but the prawn had a bit of a too-strong taste, like either not too fresh or didn’t get cleaned properly. But you get that sometimes in dim sum, and I’m not too bothered by it.

The king prawns in batter could be crispier, but otherwise quite tasty. The prawns were nice and fresh.

The salt and pepper squid was a bit tasteless, although the fried garlic it came covered in was fragrant and sweet.

 

Hot and sour soup
Hot and sour soup

 

There was way too much vinegar in the soup (perhaps too much sugar as well), but it could have been the perfect hot and sour soup. The ingredients were generous and the consistency of the soup was nicely thick.

 

Egg fried rice
Egg fried rice

 

This rice went very well with the Crispy Shredded beef. The taste was almost plain but it had a light eggy fragrance which made it a great complement to strong-tasting dishes.

Anyway, this isn’t meant to be a food review, but some people seem to feel disappointed when I post food pictures and don’t describe them a bit, so there you go.

Now, about Singapore noodles. We didn’t finish our noodles that night because we were too full from the other dishes, so we decided to take it home.

I didn’t like it, but it was still edible if you locked up your taste buds when doing the deed, and not as gross as I had described it. (I was just trying to emphasize that it’s really no good at all as a noodle dish.)

I had it for lunch. Refried it with an egg and a dab of hoisin sauce. Then, ate it with Thai sweet chilli sauce. The curry taste was almost lost so that was good. Noodles were still sickeningly soft, but that can’t be helped.

 

Singapore Fried Noodles

 

I showed Piers my noodles through webcam (he was at work) and told him what I did to it.

And he said, “Cool, you’re eating real Singapore noodles now!”

“Huh?” I said.

“Well, you cooked it and you’re a Singaporean, so that makes it Singapore noodles!”

A bit “duh”, since I didn’t cook it but merely reheated it and threw in a few things, but you see where I got the inspiration for my above cartoon from.

I’m sure, somewhere in the world, we can find genuinely tasty Singapore Noodles (just not in Singapore because, remember, Singapore Noodles do not exist in Singapore) but I’m also sure it’ll be tough going and I don’t think I’m up for the challenge of finding it.

I really can’t be bothered, anyhow, because there are a lot better and nicer things to eat than stupid curry-flavoured noodles.

Trust me.

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13 thoughts on “Let’s boycott Singapore Noodles

  1. Talking about this…

    “I think there should be some law that says you need to get permission to use a country’s name in your product. Otherwise, people all over the world could end up being confused and misled.”

    U may be amused to know that there is a Photo Gallery software with the name of our country… http://www.sgal.org... :)

  2. I do not know why. But “Singapore Beehoon” is also used in the Netherlands. They’re cooked in the PRC restaurants here. And the locals thought that’s the signature dish in Singapore. And the PRC cook with curry powder and with lots of pepper. It really tastes soooooooo sucky!!!

  3. Now you should know how I feel when I see “Ipoh Hor Fun” in Singapore when I have lived in Ipoh for years without knowing wtf is “Ipoh Hor Fun”…..

    You can definately not find 杨州炒饭 in Yang Zhou, China :D

    Though sometimes you can actually find some authentic local food if you search hard enough, and usually in a small corner of the street.

  4. Haha theres something to get people fired up with National Day coming up. Comeon Singaporeans rise up against the abuse of ur noodles. Its really funny though bcoz you get the best food here in Singapore.

  5. I agree with you; I’m not Singaporean (but my partner is) and my partner has never seen anything remotely Singaporean about Singapore Fried Noodles (or Rice, sometimes).

    I think you’re right in that some “enterprising” “chef” decided that throwing a handful of sliced chilies into a fried noodle dish along with curry powder and some prawns made it “Singaporean”.

    We’ve only found one restaurant in Chinatown that has authentic Singaporean and Malaysian food that was palatable. There is a niche for great Singaporean Peranakan and Malaysian cuisine that’s only barely filled here. The restaurant in Chinatown is poky, crowded, and cramped (though it’s worth it for the food).

    The great thing about visiting Singapore is the quality and variety of the food, and the sad thing about “Singaporean” food here in London is that there isn’t much of it.

  6. Oh please… stop complaining. How many times do you see “made in USA” or “Western food” in Asia and it’s a crappy imitation of the real thing. “Manhattan fish market”… seriously? Have you even been to the heart of New York city? It’s like going to KL and looking for a famous fish market – ridiculous!

    If it’s tasty, I don’t care if it’s called crap noodles. I’d still eat it. If you don’t like curry and rice noodles, that’s another issue. Oh yea, and Singapore is obviously not the only country being misrepresented food-wise. People like to use foreign names/brands to stand out from the local crowd. Cheers.

  7. 星洲炒面 〜 Is always on the Menu of Hong Kong style restaurants in PRC – and I love it! I didn’t know why they are called 星 noodles so asked some local Xiamen friends – they had no idea either – is it a Cantonese thing? If so, I vote for 香港炒面!

    And what about Hokkien Mee? Why can’t I find descent Hokkien Mee in Xiamen? And don’t get me started on Hainan Chicken Rice!

  8. Here’s what I think. Just like the fact that Hainan Chicken Rice didn’t come from Xiamen (because it was created by a group of Hainanese in Singapore, and is actually a Singaporean dish), Singapore noodles may not have originated from Singapore. It could have been created by a bunch of Singaporeans in a foreign country, and made famous by that country”s residents, because they have never tried something like that before. So they named the dish according to the origin country of the guy or group of people that made the dish. Even though a person may have moved to another country, they are usually proud of their heritage, so they’ll name the dishes according to their country of origin. Hence Hainanese Chicken Rice that is not made in Xiamen and Singapore Noodles that are not made in Singapore.

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