Balestier is an interesting district, bisected from Toa Payoh by Whampoa Park Connector, which itself runs adjacent to a tranquil stretch of the Kallang River. Having been to the area multiple times, I didn’t mind passing by for the views en route to Whampoa Makan Place. My destination was Kim Huat Teochew Beef Noodles, run by a father-son pair with a storied past.
I had to check that I got the right stall as the banner doesn’t have the stall’s whole name displayed in English. Oddly enough, the menu has their English name in full.
After striking up a short conversation with the son, I realised his tight-lipped replies indicated that their recipe was guarded rather strictly. What I didn’t expect was for him to hand me a book detailing the history of Whampoa Makan Place instead.
Not offended but slightly disheartened from the austerity, I scurried away with the book in tow. The level of secrecy certainly raised my expectations of their recipe.
To save you the trouble of a 2-minute read, the stall’s history goes back to the 1960s when the grandfather ran a pushcart selling pig organ soup. The business shifted to Blk 90 Whampoa Drive Market after government regulations on street hawkers came into effect.
Through multiple setbacks – chiefly an economic recession in 1985 and a swine fever outbreak in Malaysia during the early 2000s – they made repeated menu revisions before finally settling on their unique make of Beef Kway Teow, now run by father and son.
What I tried at Kim Huat Teochew Beef Noodles
Kim Huat Teochew Beef Noodles may be a bit of a mouthful, but the menu is quite the opposite. My order was a simple bowl of dry Sliced Beef Noodles (S$5). Without soup, the accompanying gravy was of a thick yet flowy consistency. I would say its closest analogue at first glance would be lor mee, faintly reminiscent of Hainanese-style beef noodles without the deeper colouration and density.
Egg noodles turned out to be the right choice as the firmer strands were put up against a fragrant mix of starchy, tumultuous savouriness. All of it was given a peppery lift by the spices and coriander. The gravy wasn’t so gelatinous that a large serving evoked jelakness. A balanced gamey scent ensured a pleasant downhill from each cascade of flavour and it took some slick unabated mouthfuls before I needed rehydration.
Turning up randomly in each spoonful were beansprouts that supplied the only crunch around. And some dietary fibre.
Extrapolating from the few reviews on Google, it seems the tenderness of their beef varies a fair bit. My tastebuds’ first sortie on the sliced beef confirmed that it carried some resistance. I wouldn’t describe the meat to be tender as they called for just the right amount of effort.
I didn’t imagine that the bowl of soup could wow me as much. The initial lightness set me up for a rich dose of game that bombarded my senses quite unlike the gravy. And strangely, I liked that.
A poor descriptor I used in the moment was ‘milky at the end’ but in retrospect, it lacked the fetid edge that would usually halt further partaking. Scouring the bottom with my spoon uncovered a treasure trove of highly coveted fatty beef slices. I had no problems draining the bowl of soup on its own.
My friend took the conventional approach of Mixed Meat Noodles (S$6) with soup and kway teow noodles. The runnier broth kept the constituent elements afloat, giving the impression that his bowl came absolutely loaded.
Kway teow‘s flavour conformity allows the broth to stand out without needing the viscosity of the dry noodles. After trying it for myself, I found it largely on par with the dry noodles. However, the strands were overly soft, tearing shortly after being lifted from the bowl.
The tripe makes up for its tasteless profile by providing much-needed texture diversity with a spongy bounce against the rest of the less delicate meat (which was still a great complement to the soup). There were a few chunky cubes that refused to yield and required excessive force. Hard to give points there.
The chilli was bitey and dominantly sour should you be resistant enough to let it linger. I could guess at some possible cinchalok along with ginger (as I was told by the staff). Eaters with low spice tolerance should dip the beef with caution since the kick comes swiftly. Still, very effective at puncturing the soup’s monotony after some time spent with just the noodles.
On top of the noodles we picked, Kim Huat Teochew Beef Noodles also offers thick bee hoon and rice to go with their soup. Considering how impressed we were, their secrecy is undoubtedly warranted. They might not have the longest history, but that experience shines through their food.
Our S$5 and S$6 orders respectively had decent portions of meat, so you’ll get your money’s worth. I would say this different (and lesser known) style of beef noodles is worth going out of your way to try.
Had I known the broth was that spectacular, I would have requested more noodles (S$0.50). But as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, so I’ll be back to savour a big bowl next time.
Make sure you have the right block, as Whampoa Makan Place is spread across 3 buildings – Blocks 90, 91, and 92. Kim Huat Teochew Beef Noodles occupies the first.
Expected damage: S$5-S$8 per pax
The post Kim Huat Teochew Beef Noodles: Father-son duo makes gob-smacking beef noodle soup with secret recipe appeared first on SETHLUI.com.