Old Airport Road Food Centre

160911b Old Airport Road Food Centre _26If you have been following my posts from my trip to Singapore last September you will have noticed that we have visited quite a few different food centres. Those food centres range from a modern food court at Food Republic to a touristy mock street market at Chinatown Food Street and Malaysian Street Food to a more traditional (more authentic?) hawker centres like Maxwell Food Centre (and does Lao Pa Sat count or is that in the touristy category?).

As if all of those Food Centres were not enough, we went out of our way a couple times to the Old Airport Road Food Centre for even more food. It is not located in the main touristy areas of Singapore and is definitely a destination for us and a favorite for locals.

You can easily find blogs and websites that share long lists of some of the best foods you can get in Singapore that feature quite a few things from Old Airport Road Food Centre. And I followed those blogs to help guide me through this Food Centre with 168 options. My favorite was this Old Airport Road Food Guide from Jaymoylovesfood with maps and list and tips!

With so much to try, we ended up going on Saturday and returned on Sunday and I wished we had more time because there was still so much more to eat!

LOR MEE at Xin Mei Xiang Zheng Zhong Lor Mee #116

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When we walked into the Old Airport Road Food Centre, I immediately got into the longest queue (line) I saw. You can see in the picture that all of the people standing there were in line to order their food. The lady in the orange t-shirt was already taking orders so that by the time you make to the front of the line, you are paying and picking up your food. I like how efficient they are here. The line moves pretty fast, but the line also grows just as fast as more people arrive. But I think I still waited about 10-15 minutes (at least my family took that time to get me a drink and order more food!)

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To start, what is Lor Mee? I honestly had no idea, I just knew that there is a long queue here and that I needed to try it. Lor Mee 鹵麵 is Chinese-inspired (according to wiki) noodle dish. Thick egg noodles are served drenched in a thick starchy gravy soup/sauce then topped with various meats, dumplings, fried fish. And its recommended to add vinegar and garlic on top of all of that. 

I was pleasantly surprised that that the thick sauce was well balanced and not overly salty as I expected from the look of it. The only thing I think we had to get used to was the fact that the sauce was so thick and almost creamy. I was so glad we ordered the vinegar to be served in a spoon on the side for us to add in. It really helped to cut the thick texture. (We basically followed what the person in front of us ordered).

Our bowl was some pork and fried fish that has been broken up. At first I was a little weirded out to not have whole pieces of fried fish because this reminded me of how I ate fish as a kid where I would crush it all up searching for bones, picked them out and then finally felt safe to eat. Does anyone else do that? Is that why it’s served like that here?

LOR MEE at Xiang Ji Lor Mee Zha Jiang Mian #81

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160911b Old Airport Road Food Centre _01We had never had this before, so I wanted to make sure we had a good first impression. And after trying the Lor Mee on Saturday, we returned on Sunday to try more at another stall. I liked that Xiang Ji Lor Mee Zha Jiang Mian kind of gave me a better understanding of what I can compare Lor Mee to.

Zha Jiang Mian = Ja Jang Myeon! The Chinese Korean black bean sauce noodle dish we see people order delivered to their house to eat in Korean Dramas! Do you know what I’m talking about? Ja Jang Myeon really is a unique Korean dish because you would never find that exact dish in China (like Orange Chicken is uniquely American).

There was still a queue for this stall, but it definitely wasn’t as long as Xin Mei Xiang.

The Lor Mee from Xiang Ji Lor Mee was actually much more flavorful and its aromas stayed in my mouth much longer.

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We didn’t get a 3rd bowl of Lor Mee but there was also a queue for Tiong Bahru Lor Mee.  Yes, there are over 150 stalls at Old Airport Road and multiple stalls for the same food! That kind of stresses me out a little bit with so many different options.

Carrot Cake at stall #156 (Do they have a name?)

Another stall is located at 156.  Not much for names, but they are known for Carrot Cake and Popiah.

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While I was waiting for Lor Mee, Mom ordered a few drinks (the usual lime juice and Kopi) and got us some black carrot cake. This stall is actually quite well known for their carrot cake and popiah. Too bad Mom only ordered the carrot cake and we didn’t have a chance to try any popiah during our trip.

Carrot cake does NOT have any carrots in it and we had previously tried some at Lao Pa Sat; where we got a half white and half black to try. We had concluded that we liked the flavor of the black but the texture of the white. Dad concluded that he really likes the flavor here but he misses the Vietnamese version (which I agree!).

Fish Ball Noodle Soup at Ru Ji Kitchen Holland Drive #37

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160910b Old Airport Road Food Centre _25This is another one of those stalls with a very long line and caught my attention. I was at first expecting it to be Bok Chor Mee (we ate that next) because it uses the same egg noodles and can be served with soup on the side. But the focus here would be the fish balls in the little bowl of soup behind the actual noodles.

They did not disappoint with some perfectly bouncy fish balls. But then again, I’m not sure if I can complain since most of the fish balls we eat here at home (in So. Cal) are frozen and rarely fresh.

But this bowl of noodle was also pretty good! By now, Mom had finally realized why I actually prefer my egg noodle dry with soup on the side. When served this way, the noodles are actually flavored with more sauces and brings out a very different flavor. She also concluded that she can’t recreate that for me at home nor does she know of any place that can do that at home for me. We’ve been looking in San Diego since.

Bok Chor Mee at Bedok Minced Mixed Noodle #125

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I hope you can easily see why Old Airport Food Centre is a must visit. There are so many stalls and so many different stalls that are very popular and attract long lines (queues) of people.

I was super excited for this one! I was first introduced to Bak Chor Mee at NUS (National University of Singapore). I remember always going back to the same “Auntie” and ordered the minced mix noodles, I didn’t realize it was called Bak Chor Mee until I came across Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grows post on Best Bak Chor Mee in Singapore: After Eating 48 Bowls!

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I’m not sure if it was just me or not, but this line really was really long and we probably waited for about 20 minutes or so. Yunti and I were relatively entertained to hear some locals speaking in Cantonese to each other here though. We also found it quite fun to see the Aunties at the stalls know quite a few of the people in line and many of them even brought their own containers to bring their food home.

You get to pick the size and the type of noodles you want. There is one “Auntie” that is making dumplings and another who is boiling up the noodles and putting everything together.

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We ordered the thin noodles, with our soup on the side which is probably the most common way to eat this now. When served it almost feels like 2 different dishes and really could be enjoyed separately.

The noodles are swimming in a bowl of vinegar (soy?) chili sauce mixture and topped with minced pork. The soup has more minced pork and dumplings here. They’re missing the mushrooms that I love! Does that mean this is not quite as traditional?

Doesn’t matter, it was still good and quite satisfying. Look at my sister enjoying her soup. We were too busy eating and taking pictures of food to bother taking pictures of each other, but I was happy to capture this little moment.

Congee at Seng Mei Congee #91

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I told my Mom that there are usually 2 ways to know if the food is going to be good at a food centre. 1) long line/queue 2) newspapers etc. posted at the stall.

Mom found Xin Mei Congee and ordered a bowl immediately.

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I can’t remember exactly which congee she ordered but I remembered that it was topped with a raw egg yolk (was the whole egg raw too?) and a nice fresh You Tiao (Chinese donut). The congee was nice and creamy with the rice properly cooked down to the right texture.

I was pretty excited to see the egg the most though. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.

Hokkien Mee at Nam Sing Hokkien Fried Mee (Hougang) #32

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There are quite a few dishes of food that I really miss from Singapore that I just can’t get anywhere else. One of those dishes would be Hokkien Mee. When we arrived at this stall, there were quite a few take away boxes stacked up with people taking it home. As for us, we ate at the food centre so we ordered our food and the “Uncle” asked us for our table number.

Every table at the food centre has a number on it and when you arrive you would usually save a table for yourself by placing a pack of tissue paper on the table and go order food. Yes, a simple pack of tissue paper (which you will need as you eat since they don’t give you napkins) will save you a table. No one will take your tissue nor will they steal your table. But in our case, we had Dad there saving a table for us. He made sure to find the best table with a fan.

And do you see the light bulb to the left of their sign? That light bulb stays on to let people know when they are open since they’re located at the back facing away from the entrance of the Old Airport Road Food Centre.

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Hokkien Mee is a noodle dish with 2 different types of noodles (vermicelli and egg noodle) fried with egg, shrimp, pork and squid. The Malaysian version is served in a dark soya sauce but the Singapore version is served light in color soaked in a seafood broth.

I read that Nam Sing Hokkien Fried Mee is served very wet and is better eaten at home after the noodles have soaked up all of the broth. But it wasn’t too soupy for us!

Chee Cheong Fun at Freshly Made Chee Cheong Fun #155

So there was one very specific thing that I really wanted to eat at the Old Airport Road Food Centre that we missed on Saturday.

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160911b Old Airport Road Food Centre _10So while Yunti got Lor Mee, I was in line for Bak Chor Mee, Dad was searching for the perfect table, Mom went out in search for stall #115 to get me (I mean us) some Chee Cheong Fun.

I didn’t think this would be something I would look forward to in Singapore since it’s more of a Hong Kong dim sum dish but this stall has been recommended to me by multiple blogs and friends.

My Mom told me that she was expecting a long queue so when she found this stall with no queue she second guessed it and took a picture of the stall and went back to me at the Bak Chor Mee stall to double check.

Everything is made to order the “Auntie” at this stall pours the flour batter, adds the filling and then rolls them right there! Unfortunately we didn’t get to eat as fresh as we’d liked since Mom had to wait for us to come back with our Bak Chor Mee but it was still really good!

The rice roll was so yummy and slippery (I know, that doesn’t sound good but trust me, you want that rice roll to be slippery). I remembered thinking this was pretty expensive, but definitely worth it!

160911b Old Airport Road Food Centre _23And with almost every meal we had in Singapore we always ordered a cup or 2 of the lime juice. I want some now, but unfortunately it is just not the same anywhere outside of Singapore.

We spent a total of SG$25.50 on Saturday (Carrot Cake SG$3, Lor Mee SG$5, Bok Chor Mee SG$3, Congee SG$3.50, Hokkien Mee SG$5, Drinks SG$6) and SG$16 on Sunday (Mince Mixed Noodle SG$3, Lor Mee SG$3, Cheung Fun SG$7, Drinks SG$3)

It was experiences like this at Food Centres that made me and my family fall in love with Singapore. We were in food heaven trying all different types of food (even Chinese inspired foods we’ve never had before, can we call that “authentic fusion food”?), leaving stuffed, and didn’t even stress about how much we spent!

 

 

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