I’ve had seafood hor fun, san lou hor fun, Ipoh hor fun and the famous beef hor fun in Geylang. Just when I thought I’d tried it all, the discovery of chai poh hor fun left me totally flabbergasted. It’s sold at this hawker stall called Poh Preserved Veg Hor Fun located at Chinatown Complex Food Centre.
“Wah sian.” I thought to myself as I was making my way to the food centre on a Saturday morning. Half awake and leaving home without my perk-me-up coffee fix, I was dreading visiting the stall’s location as it feels like a maze around the 260 stalls.
As I approached the bustling hawker centre, I was surprised that Poh Preserved Veg Hor Fun was the very first stall that caught my eye (how lucky). With its eye-catching yellow signboard which lifted my spirits, I proceeded to order their signature dish.
The stall owner, Chef Ng, used to be a chef at several well-known hotels such as Shangri-La Singapore, Amara Hotel and Sheraton Tower’s Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant. Before moving to this current location in Chinatown, he owned a hawker stall at Empress Road Market & Food Centre selling a more extensive version of his current menu.
As I patiently waited for my food, I watched as the chef heated up an empty wok and threw in a plateful of hor fun which was arranged in a circular shape. He pressed it down with his spatula for a while before adding in some ingredients from a small metal dish.
He proceeded to reach out for a bowl which contained beaten eggs, and expertly poured it over the charred ingredient-laden hor fun. “Swish swish swish” the calming sounds from the intense force of the fire below the wok resonated across the stall.
Voila! After a mini showcase of Mr Ng expertly flipping the entire omelette-looking hor fun on its other side, it was finally ready!
What I tried at Poh Preserved Veg Hor Fun
There are two kinds of hor fun available here; the Oyster Preserved Veg Hor Fun (S$6) and Preserved Veg Hor Fun (S$6). I ordered the latter which came looking like a huge Chinese-style omelette which you’ll usually spot at a communal family-style dinner at home. It was served with a side of green chillies and sambal.
With the help of my disposable chopsticks and spoon, I pried open the slightly-charred surface of the “omelette”. It uncovered gleaming strips of ivory-coloured hor fun with peeled shrimps and green bits of spring onion.
The smoky whiffs of wok hei hit my nostrils and taste buds instantly as I proceeded to try the flat noodles first. “How could something so simple taste so good?” I thought to myself as I continued to savour every mouthful of hor fun ladened with a generous supply of egg.
With each bite of the dish, the slightly salty and sweet notes coming from the chai poh bits hit you gracefully towards the end.
As the hawker centre was packed, I was sitting right in front of the stall. Chef Ng must have noticed me snapping shots of his dishes with my portable light and all, and came to sit next to me.
“I used to add pork lard to this dish but decided to remove it as many customers found it too rich,” he explained. The strange thing was that the hor fun was already flavourful on its own without the need of using pork lard (which usually is my favourite).
The accompanying shrimps were plump, and did not make my sensitive tongue itch (an accurate indicator of the freshness of seafood for me). I tasted hints of dried shrimp in the sambal, but I wished it was slightly oilier and wetter, which would have enhanced the whole eating experience.
I moved on to the Prawn Paste Chicken (S$10) which came with four pieces of mid-wings and four drumsticks, together with a mini dish of Thai sweet chilli sauce.
Chef Ng managed to catch the perfect timing and technique in frying chicken wings. The surface was nice and crispy while maintaining the moistness of the meat underneath. This would be perfect as regular chicken wings, but a letdown if they were meant to be shrimp paste-flavoured.
felt that the prawn paste marination was a little unbalanced— it was flavourful at some spots and bland at other parts— it would’ve been perfect otherwise.
Dipping the chicken wings into the Thai chilli sauce was satisfyingly good. Sweet and slightly tangy, it enhanced the eating experience of the wings. You can never go wrong with this wonderful Thai creation which goes well with almost anything!
Dining at Poh Preserved Veg Hor Fun taught me that good food doesn’t always have to contain premium ingredients to taste good. If the chef has a good technique, he can create wonderful dishes even from the simplest of ingredients.
Looks like a hor fun lover like me now has another spot to enjoy a brand new kind of flat noodle dish (which I’ve discovered on my trip here), and I can’t wait to return!
Expected damage: S$6 – S$16 per pax
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