Despite passing by North Bridge Market & Food Centre countless times, I’ve never ventured inside until fate intervened in my quest for checking out Shan Yuan Teochew Kway Teow Noodle.
Arriving at 11am, well before the lunchtime horde, I was pleasantly surprised by the immaculate ambience of the hawker centre. The pristine surroundings were further enhanced by a splendid glass ceiling at its heart, allowing the warm embrace of natural sunlight to envelop the entire space.
Shan Yuan Teochew Kway Teow Noodle has been around for the past 3 years, and it typically operates 24 hours a day, except on Sundays when it closes at 2 am. I arrived one day before the hawker centre undergoes a 3-month renovation (lucky me!) until 14 Dec 2023; so do pay them a visit only after that.
What I tried at Shan Yuan Teochew Kway Teow Noodle
I kickstarted my lunch odyssey with the Fish Dumpling Mee Tai Mak (S$4.50). A mound of mee tai mak acted like a foundation at the bottom, cradling the fishballs, herh kiao (fish dumplings) and pieces of pork lard perched on its surface. The dish usually comes with fishcake too, but unfortunately, they ran out of it that day.
As I was tossing the strands of mee tai mak or ‘rat tails’ as I will call it, they gradually evolved into a fiery crimson hue that gleamed with the tantalising oils and seasonings nestled beneath.
Firm and chewy, the mee tai mak was enveloped with a delightful vinegary essence which gracefully yielded to a harmonious blend of perfectly-calibrated savoury and spicy notes.
These fishballs were far from the factory-produced, floury versions that one might expect. Instead, they exuded a robust, full-bodied fish flavour that elevated them to a league of their own.
The fish dumplings, on the other hand, were rather pedestrian, offering nothing extraordinary to leave a lasting imprint on the palate.
I then moved on to the soup version of the Meatball Noodle (S$3.50). Opting for kway teow as the noodle base, it was submerged in clear broth, adorned with 8 meatballs, pork lard and a sprinkling of Chinese celery.
Although the soup tasted clean, it still possessed a depth of flavour in a way that did not rely on the use of MSG.
As anticipated, the kway teow exhibited a superbly delicate, silky, and weightless texture, devoid of the occasionally alkaline aftertaste often associated with noodles.
While the meatballs didn’t deliver a knockout punch, they still managed to land in the realm of decency, offering a palatably soft texture and an acceptable flavour profile.
The last dish, the Minced Meat Noodle (S$4), consisted of a bowl of mee kia adorned with a medley of delights, including minced pork, succulent pork slices, pig’s liver, delectable pork lard nuggets, and meatballs.
I gave the bowl a good mix and the mee kia transformed into a shiny, reddish shade as it intermingled with the jumble of ingredients.
After taking a bite, I was slightly disappointed that the noodles failed to embody the customary vinegary kick one expects from a bowl of bak chor mee. Instead, the dominant flavours were a fiery burst of chilli heat and savoury undertones.
The saving grace were the golden nuggets of pork lard which released aromatic bursts of greasy and crunchy deliciousness.
I found that the pieces of liver were a testament to the chef’s skills, cooked to perfection with a slight chewiness that avoided the overwhelming metallic taste usually found in overcooked renditions. The pork slices, too, played their part beautifully, exhibiting a tender and succulent quality.
While Shan Yuan Teochew Kway Teow Noodle may not ascend to the echelons of the finest noodle establishments I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, it undeniably offers a gratifying meal option whenever the hankering for dry or soup noodles strikes.
I must emphasise once more that the hawker center is presently in the midst of a 3-month renovation, and it will only reopen on 15 Dec 2023.
Expected damage: S$3.50 – S$5 per pax