CLOSED- Xian Seafood Lala Beehoon: Gaga over Lala Beehoon
By KF Seetoh - Monday, Aug 08, 2016
Updated 7 August 2018- Closed
Call a rose by any other name, and it’s still as sweet and lovely. Just like how you would call White Beehoon, Seafood Beehoon, Braised Beehoon and now, Lala Beehoon, by another name. It’s essentially what the Cantonese call Mun Mifen or braised beehoon. The appeal of this dish, is the comforting feel about it. Slurpy smooth seafood stock braised beehoon is cooked with prawns, clams, crabs, squid with vegetables and served like how old-days mums would do.
You will more often, now see this dish begin appearing in hawker centre menus under one name or another but although it sounds simple, this dish is not so easy to make. I have tried enough of them to share that fact with you. Mr Francis Mak, the owner of Café D Hong Kong along Balestier Road, decided to expand with this scaled down operation concept, in a hawker stall. It seems a lot of restaurants and cafes are heading that way. Recently I wrote about the Majestic Restaurant folks setting up a hawker stall recently at the Gluttons Bay and some western eateries are going the pop-up stall concept just to check out the market response. “I can point to so many reasons why, but the real reason is the manpower shortage situation”, and Francis adds that operating a hawker stall, is by no means cheap in today’s climate, but it requires a lot less manpower (just three to operate his kitchen here) and common maintenance fees are shared by the other stall tenant in the coffeeshop, reminding me, “I don’t even need to manage that part”.
Are more restaurants heading the hawker stall route? It’s left to be seen and it depends on the manpower supply situation. But frankly, I think the masses foodie segment are more concerned about food quality and fair pricing than they are about deco or even service. Even the Michelin Singapore Guide recognise humble hawkers and categorically say it’s all about food quality, not deco nor level of service or location when it comes to hawker food.
Back to the makan. The seafood beehoon here has a distinct own-made stock. I can taste the roasted prawn heads, garlic, clams, dried seafood and even some chicken bones in the lightly milky broth (done sans milk). When this is slow cooked over hours, the intensity of the flavours meld and it becomes an umami bomb of a stock. I don’t know how long these folks can afford to continue using the restaurant class and expensive grey sea prawns, but Francis promises me that it’s a permanent fixture in the recipe. A basic set, with clams (lala) and three decent sized prawns, comes at a reasonable $5. The bigger plates, which can include flower crabs, crayfish, prawns and clams go for up to $25.
I like that they use simple cabbage for the crunch effect. But those who know, will understand the layer of sweetness this vegetable can lend to the whole equation. Of course the generous spoon of lard croutons sitting atop the platter of beehon, reminds us of why food gluttony is one of the greatest of the seven sins.
My opinon: this is very easy to like and all the savouriness and the appeal of the stock plus texture of the beehoon and freshly-picked-off-the-ice-bed seafood, is among one of the better White Beehoon or Seafood Beehoon around. But I what I will flip over for, is if there were some roasted teepo (sun dried and smoked sole fish bones) infused into the stock. But that’s just the Cantonese in me alluding to Teochew flavours.
Xian Seafood Lala Beehoon
Blk 304, Ubi Ave 1
10am-2pm/ 5pm-9.30pm daily