Covid does not upend Great Food

By KF Seetoh - Friday, Oct 30, 2020

Covid or no Covid, deliciousness lives on in Singapore. I was recently asked by a CNN journalist if food is affected in any way by the pandemic, which the world is still in the thick of. I was stumped, and in my attempt to find some inspirational negative quote (to help sell readership), I could not utter anything stunning. Then it occurred to me why this food culture is so Unesco worthy. No one went hungry, all the great flavours were available since the Circuit Breaker, although with a bit of inconvenience and since Phase 2 kicked in, we can see all’s well at the hawker centres and kopitiams, especially in the heartlands. It fed the masses. Town food traffic will take a little longer to get back on its feet but it’s a matter of time. In the midst of all the testing, social distancing and limited socialising, I continued to do what it do best- flushing out some comforting delights as we knock on the door of our Phase 3 Covid reopening season.


Nonya Dry Laksa, at Casa Bom Vento Express, Xin Tekka Food Court, 2 Serangoon Road, 11am till sold out. Close on Sunday and Public Holiday. Tel:88667866

Lionel Chee shuttered up his Casa Bom Vento restaurant some years ago and went into tour guiding. But Covid cut him off, and so he took a deep breath and opened Casa Bom Vento Express and recreated some of the comforting icons in his repertoire. Among his popular Debal (Devil) Curry set and buah keluak blue pea rice set, this Nonya Dry Laksa ($8.20) stood out for me. I watched how he put this together- and it was just how he wok tossed the rich own-made laksa rempah which clung onto the rice noodle. He rained some laksa leaf flecks over and topped it with a huge prawn. It was one of the star dishes in this food court.


Casa Bom Vento Express’ Dry Nonya Laksa

Teochew Dry Beef Noodle at Gubak Kia, Stall 27B Timbre+ food hall, 73, Ayer Rajah Crescent,11am-3pm, closed Saturday and Sunday. Tel: 8782 0936

John Paul Lim is the great grandson of the legendary Mr Tan Chin Sia of the Hock Lam Beef Noodle fame. His father, David Lim is the son of Mr Tan’s eldest daughter who also helped at the street stall back in the day. David and Paul stuck to the original Teochew recipe, not offering the gooey sauced Hainanese version. They went one up with this dry rendition ($7.90) with slices of beef shank, tendons, beef balls, lean meat and soft stomach slices. The noodles below was tossed in a soy sauce, beef essence with sesame oil- and drenched with the signature vinegarish chilli sauce. It was very hard to dissect just why this was so moreish. I just wash it down with the bowl of beefy soup provided.


Gubak Kia Dry Beef Noodle Set

Ngoh Hiang, Sim’s Ngoh Hiang, #01-29, Blk 462 Crawford Lane, Wiseng Kopitiam.11am-7.30pm, Closed on Monday

This family stayed together and cooked together in this humble kopitiam stall- all six of them. One take orders, both off and online, another rolls up the minced meat mixture with bean skin, another fries and one plates and serves while an uncle does delivery, another chips in to handle the prawn fritters, beehoon and chicken wings. The Ngoh Hiang ($4 a roll) is thick, very dense and the water chestnuts the insert in the mix is not shy and lost. Every bite is meaty with sweet crunchy overtones. Order some of the chicken wings (they are just well fried and fresh) to complete this meal with a plate of beehoon.


Sim’s Ngoh Hiang