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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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 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
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
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.
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.