If the name sounds familiar, it is because the stall in Hong Lim Food Centre is helmed by Gerald Tang, the nephew of Tang Chay Seng, who runs the one-Michelin-starred Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle in Crawford Lane.
Gerald Tang’s father, Tang Chai Chye, used to run Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle at a coffee shop in High Street with his elder brother, Tang Chay Seng. Both stalls started with Gerald Tang’s grandfather, who was a street food peddler in 1939. Tang Chai Chye went on to start his stall at Bestway Building in Prince Edward Road in the 1990s and later shifted to Hong Lim Food Centre. Over the past decade, his son has been running the stall and also expanded the business to Jakarta, where they opened Tai Wah Pork Noodle restaurant in April.
On what makes his bak chor mee special, he says that the secret lies in using fresh ingredients and the technique of cooking noodles till they become al dente. “We are also particular about our seasonings, such as the chilli sauce and the black vinegar, which shouldn’t be too sour. We also use pork lard which brings up the fragrance of the dish.”
Located directly opposite Tai Wah Pork Noodle in Hong Lim Food Centre is another first-time Bib Gourmand recipient Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee, which is known for attracting queues for its char kway teow.
The stall’s owner, Ng Chin Chye, 66, says in Mandarin: “I have been running this stall for 18 years, so this is a happy surprise.”
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On his secret to a good plate of char kway teow, he says: “It all lies in the wok hei (the flavour imparted by a hot wok) and the type of soya sauce that we use which isn’t too salty.You should be able to taste the soya beans from the sauce.”
His father, Tham Niap Tong, 78, had picked up the recipe from a Hainanese sailor and started selling curry puffs on the streets when he was 19 in Serangoon and outside Novena Church in Thomson Road. In the 1970s, he moved to a coffee shop in Serangoon Gardens. The stall has been at Tanjong Pagar Food Centre for the past 16 years.
The younger Tham says: “Although the curry puffs are smaller, they are full of filling made from a unique and freshly made rempah. We will continue to make and deep-fry curry puffs till everything is sold out for the day.”
The stall’s most popular soup is the Night-blooming Cerus Spareribs soup, which is brewed with red dates, orange peel and apricot seeds, and is known to be ease coughing and boost one’s immune system.
Besides hawker stalls, this year’s Bib Gourmand honour roll also has restaurants on the list.
One of the co-owners, Lee Eng Su, says: “The work that we put in here every day is out of pride for our country and the food that we cook. Some may think that taking nasi lemak and chendol out of the hawker centre into a shophouse restaurant is atas (“high class” in Singlish), but that is the only way to produce them the way that we want.”
The announcement of the Bib Gourmand recipients comes one week ahead of the results of the MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2018, which will be revealed on 25 July.