If you didn’t know already, Queenstown is one of the oldest estates in Singapore. It was one of the first satellite towns built in Singapore and named after Queen Elizabeth ll to commemorate her coronation. It’s an estate of many firsts. There was the first technical school, the first community library branch, and even the first polyclinic. Queenstown is replete with history, and every corner is brimming with tales to be told.
At least, that’s what I gather from the sleepy estate. If there was an embodiment of ‘still waters run deep’, it would be Queenstown. The same way you can find interesting and rare cheeses in Queenstown, you can also find a stellar bowl of beef noodles as well. A first for me, perhaps?
While there are many types of beef noodles, from Lanzhou beef noodles to Taiwanese beef noodle soup, they all promise a hug in a bowl and all-around slurpable goodness. Still, I have a soft spot for Cantonese beef brisket noodles, and Lao Jie Fang makes a pretty good bowl.
What I tried
Mei Ling Market & Food Centre is where you’ll find Lao Jie Fang and other decorated stalls. It was a rather languid Wednesday afternoon; the lunch craze had come and gone. I was sipping on an icy cup of sugarcane juice to beat the heat and searching for a little slice of Hong Kong.
The menu at Lao Jie Fang, like most hawker stalls, is lean like their brisket. The classic and evergreen Beef Brisket Noodles (S$5) and the Beef Brisket & Tendon Noodle (S$8) for generous servings of that melt-your-mouth tendon. Otherwise, there are the Pork Rib Noodles (S$4/S$5) and the Pork Trotter Noodle (S$4/S$5) to keep you on your toes.
Now, there are several layers to a bowl of beef brisket noodles, and you’ll want to make sure everything is working in harmony. As we know, good things take time and making brisket is an exercise in patience. Brisket is a rather tough cut of meat that requires hours of TLC to break down till it’s fork-tender and falls apart easily—tough brisket is a huge no-no.
Then, there are the noodles. When it comes to Cantonese beef brisket noodles, the noodles don’t play the shoddy second fiddle. They have to be the bouncy, tender, and wonderfully moreish foil to the beef tendon. Thin egg noodles are the way to go, and specifically, jook sing noodles. This is where the chefs use a bamboo pole to knead the dough, which results in perfectly springy strands that make the slurping all the better.
Knowing all of this, I ordered the full works from Lao Jie Fang—the Beef Brisket & Tendon Noodle. The uncle at the stall is meticulous and whips a bowl for me in no time—a practised hand at tossing the noodles while spoonfuls of chilli and dark sauce are slung into the bowl.
There you have it, generous chunks of beef brisket with thick cylinders of beef tendon come accompanied by a flaxen swirl of noodles and parboiled kailan.
The beef brisket, true to form, is tender and immensely flavourful. As with Cantonese beef noodles, the beef brisket is usually made with a heady mixture of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and other secret ingredients. A rich sauce that keeps you coming back for more.
With the tendon, it has to be nothing short of meltingly tender and disappears the moment you put it in your mouth. Colour me impressed with the quality of the tendon at Lao Jie Fang; it was exactly what it needed to be. Then, to top it all off, there was the savoury, spicy sauce that coated the noodles. Needless to say, I licked my bowl clean that afternoon.
Interestingly, given all my talk about old things, Lao Jie Fang means exactly that, ‘old street’. I don’t have to tell you how much we love new and shiny things. We are, after all, inundated with a never-ending stream of food stalls opening and closing every other week.
So, there is something to be said about embracing those that have stood the test of time and are not just a flash in the pan. Lao Jie Fang has found a groove with these beef noodles, and I know I’ll be back for more of what they have to offer.
Expected damage: S$5 – S$8 per pax
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