SINGAPORE — Five years ago, in 2014, three good friends, Lee Hon Wai, Tan Kok Meng, and Mok Wai Peun founded Go Noodle House, inspired by Tan's mother's fishbone stock. Since then, they have opened 37 outlets in Malaysia and Australia with their first Singapore outlet at 313@Somerset. Theirs is a company that holds steadfast to the timeless tradition of making everything by hand, as I learned in a media trip where, along with other food writers, we were brought around their central kitchen to see first hand how the noodles go from dough to bowl.
"I hope every customer finds our handmade noodles and bursting meatballs in the family recipe fish bone broth with a shot of five-year shaoxing hua diao jiu (rice wine) just as satisfying a meal as it was for us to cook each bowl from scratch," co-founder Hon Wai shared in an email interview.
He went on to say that their "menu is an extensive one and the prices are kept extremely affordable so that customers can come back often to tuck into their favourites and try new things at every visit."
The decision to open an outlet in Singapore was not without its fair share of challenges. "The strict labour laws were a huge challenge in Singapore," Hon Wai explained. "Importing ingredients for the restaurant has not been easy either as stringent standards laid out by the local government must be followed to the letter. Having said that, we’re confident that Singapore is a great country to do business in due to its strategic location as a tourist hub, the metropolitan palate of its citizens, and its safe and peaceful environment."
As with the Malaysia outfit, Go Noodle House's first Singapore outlet is dripping with chinoiserie authenticity from the moment you step in. The decor is designed to mimic a Chinese pavilion with its focus on dark woods, linen screens, and lanterns. Tables are spaced rather far apart from each other although it's evident that the mise-en-scène can accommodate far more than what it currently holds. I like this spaciousness. It shows the restaurants priority for the customers' comfort, a consideration very few establishments afford diners.
The menu here mirrors closely the one across the causeway. Each bowl of noodle or soup comes with a small cup of three-year-old shaoxing hua diao jiu (cooking wine) that can be added into the soup. I highly recommend dousing the bowl with this potent concoction to give the soup a good kick of flavour. You can also choose from the signature superior soup or the homemade spicy soup as well as either the mi xian or bee hoon. There's the option of adding proteins and vegetables as well which that no two dishes are the same. And for a restaurant in Orchard Road, I dare say these prices might make you blink twice. Table service, hand made noodles, and aged cooking wine for below S$15? Outrageous.
My first two selections for the evening comes without noodles. The first is the fresh fish slice (S$12.90++) of mackerel. Like my chunky thighs, they are very meaty and fresh (I said what I said). The second is the handmade fish paste (S$11.90++), a true labour of love with each nugget precisely crafted by hand using a spoon. The magic of the broth is in its absorption of whatever meat it is served with, and here it is sweeter than the mackerel, but not unpleasantly so.
I had the third bowl of signature bursting meatballs with Go Noodle House mi xian noodles (S$10.90++ for the superior soup, S$11.99++ for the spicy soup). The noodles are, of course, handmade in their factory in Malaysia and shipped over frozen in -20°C blocks.
Go Noodle House's signature bursting meatballs is a round shell of pork meat that encases juicy and flavourful minced pork which makes the broth here bolder in taste than the previous two bowls. The mi xian noodles are light and slippery, and though I don't recommend it, you should try to eat it without chewing. It goes down like a dream.
Pan mee enthusiasts will be pleased to know that one portion of Go Noodle House's Hakka Sauce with Century Egg (S$9.90++) is enough to fit two. I'm slightly taken aback at the affordability of this dish versus its size. Here, the noodles are coated liberally in pork lard and served with century egg, fried lard, anchovies, minced pork, and black fungus. It's silky, luscious, and packed with a robustness that hugs each strand. Every element contributes to the flavours of the dish, especially the century egg. Academically the plate works due to its tripartite of texture and flavours and is my preferred choice than to the one doused in dark sauce.
In KL, I had the opportunity to try the Trio Platter (S$12.90++) that comes with five-spice meat roll, crispy fuchuk, and pork gold coin. It's an easy plate of snacks that goes fabulously with their intense chilli. Dip gently. This spicy potion is potent.
But I beg of you to please order the youtiao (S$4.90++). Order whatever you wish from the exhaustive list of appetizers, but you must have this. You cannot go wrong when a group of food writers unanimously agree on the brilliance of these long sticks of crispy dough dipped into sweet kaya. I only wish they were more generous with the Kaya dip. There's simply no way we're going to politely dip our freshly fried youtiao on a tiny bit of kaya. Bring it on, I say. Bring it on.
Website | 313 Orchard Rd, #B3-37/38 313@Somerset, Singapore 238895
10am - 10pm daily