I had earlier waxed lyrical over Mak's Noodles as possibly the best in the world. So it was with a bit of excitement, when I read in a recent issue of Wine and Dine, that the executive chef, Chui Cheuen Lai, is now in Singapore and helming the Noodle Palace in Centerpoint.
Noodle Palace is one of the original restaurants to offer Hong Kong cha chan teng style of noodles in Singapore. I remember eating there from the early 1980s, when Centerpoint was new, and this style of cooking was rather novel. However, over the years, Noodle House's novelty wore off, and the emergence of Crystal Jade and with their own imitators took over the scene.
So off we trotted to Noodle Palace, to see if they brought over the Hong Kong handmade traditional bamboo noodle...thin, slightly hard, springy, wiry noodles in a wonderful clear, tasty broth, with fantastic, fragrant wanton.
The noodles were indeed thinner, more wiry, and harder (al dente) than most of those served here. The soup was midly reminiscent of the Mak's in Hong Kong...clear, but thick, slightly viscous broth, with a clean palate offering hints of chicken and pork. The wanton had the tinge of the flounder, but not as apparent as in Hong Kong. Seems to be similar, but different from our tasting in HKG.
We also ordered the Ngau Lam...or beef brisket noodles
If they offered the dry Ngau Lam Mien in Mak's HKG, I wasn't aware...blame it on poor ability to read Chinese...but AFAIK, only the soup version is available there or just braised ngau lam sans noodle. And it was an eye opener...truly a superb dish. The Singapore version is more typical of the stewed brisket we get in Crystal Jade, et al...the meat was a bit sinewy, and tough, and not enough slippery, smooth, fat(?) collagen was served.
Very smooth rice gruel...typical Cantonese style. With treasures of roast duck, abalone, fish, fish maw, fresh prawn, meat ball, pig's liver, cuttlefish, and a raw egg. The chef was specific in his instructions...I guess, only one slice/piece of each of the ingredients. The congee was piping hot, and when mixed with the ingredients, the egg made the whole bowl yellow...and cooked the egg. I must say as a whole the congee was quite agreeable, and delicious. Reminded me of a shabu-shabu session one cold winter night in Geneva, when after finishing off the meat and seafood, we dumped rice and raw egg into the shabu-shabu broth, and had one of the most wonderful congee ever tasted.
We also tried the roast meats:
The crackling of the roast pork was a bit thick and slightly (very slightly) tough, but crispy enough for me to ignore the hardness, and enjoyed it. The pork was a bit on the salty side, but nonetheless very tasty. The roast duck did not have a crispy skin, but the taste was quite acceptable.
Noodle Place Restaurant
176 Orchard Road
Tel: 6733 3171