Thursday, November 13, 2008

Beef Hor gold standard: Prince Coffee House

with family

This is an old favourite. Really old, we have been eating here since before my son was born (he is 14 years old now), and at one time almost weekly. I first started to eat at Prince when they were in Shaw Towers...literally downstairs from Prince Cinema, hence the name. Mr Lim, who used to own the restaurant, originally set out as s steak house. They served decent steaks, but as the cooks were Hainanese, as was Mr Lim...they also were able to serve cze char style dishes.

click on image for a larger panorama view

They moved to Coronation Plaza, probably some 15 years ago (reference needed as to when). From steak house, they turned more into a family restaurant. They serve fragrant, jasmine Thai rice, and a decent range of cze char dishes. Our favourites include their Hainanese Pork Chops, Corned Beef with French Beans, Lemon Chicken, Oxtail Stew, (this realy must try...will blog about it in another post), Inchikabin (a Penang style fried chicken, which sadly, they don't do anymore...even becoming rare in Penang) and the subject of today's post - Beef Hor Fun.

Mr Lim retired with his wife, and sold the restaurant to the employees...the cook, the head waiter - Jimmy, and the two waitresses. Curiously, the waitresses always wore a blouse/skirt version of the SIA stewardess dress. Under their stweardship, the food continued to taste excellent, but the theme, if I can describe the decor and mood as a theme, changed from family restaurant, to one catering to school kids. Brilliant move, as there were a couple of schools around - Chinese High, Nanyang Girls, NJC, were a few within walking distance. They started to introduce $6 meals, comprising unlimited soft drinks, a small soup, a main course (western...chicken chop or pork chop). Good value.

Now, Jimmy spends his time mostly in the kitchen these days, though he sometimes pops out to greet old customers. When I was there last Sat, Mrs Lim was visiting, and we chatted a bit, reminiscing old times.

The wide hor fun, a staple made from rice is pre-fried under great heat to impart the wok hei till some bits are slightly charred. This makes the hor fun special. Most other stalls do not fry the hor fun sufficiently. Of course, the hawkers over the causeway in KL take theirs one level further...not only does the hor fun is solidly fried with great wok hei, they serve the hor fun with crispy fried bee hoon...for a concoction they call Kong Fu Chow (Cantonese Fried). This contrasts with the Black Fried Hokkien Mee (another favourite of mine!!) which can only be found in KL...known locally there as Fu Kien Chow (Hokkien Fried).

On receipt of each order, the ingredients are cooked for the gravy - beef, vegetables, rich stock, shortening. And then poured over the noodles and served.

Large slices of air flown beef is used...very tender and full of natural flavour. I think very cleverly seasoned to enhance the flavour, but not so much as to overpower the delicate taste. The meat remains tender, juicy. Delicious! The bits of vegetable provided some bite, as does the deep fried, almost crunchy shallots.

As I gave away in the title, this is my gold standard to judge all other beef hor fun by. And to date it stands as the king.

Read ieatishootipost's verdict on Prince.

587 Bukit Timah Road
#02-15 Coronation Plaza

Photo note: Shot with the Canon EOS 300D with kit lens - EFS18-55. The restaurant was rather dark, but no flash was used. Shot hand hold, in large jpeg. This proved to be a mistake, as white balance was rather difficult to achieve during post processing. The slow-ish shutter speeds with no flash also caused a less than perfect sharpness than the usual 1Dmk3/EF17-40L shots. I am not very happy with the results from the 300D, and may shoot another set later with the 1Dmk3.
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