'Da Pow-Low' Dinner Hainanese Style
Well, dinner was not from the Italian restaurant chain that made a splash into Singapore's gourmet scene some years ago (and still going strong with at least four restaurants I know of), but came courtesy of the more old-school Hainanese version of noodles. Indeed, perhaps hor fun or kuay teow (flat rice noodles) prepared in a variety of ways did inspire Marco Polo during his sojourns to the East to bring home ideas for the huge smorgasbord of pasta dishes that have now mushroomed in Italian restaurants all over the world.
Feeling like we'd had a slight overkill of Western meals, we decided to forego our original plan for takeout pizza in favour of 'da pao' (takeaway) Black Bean Sauce Beef Hor Fun from a nearby Hainanese restaurant - Kim Moh Hainanese Restaurant. The Hainanese people in Singapore have a long history of being extremely talented in the kitchen - they created the absolute best chicken rice to be found on this earth and staffed many of the top restaurants in the past, both Western and local. This neighbourhoood restaurant is located in an F&B space which suffers from a bit of an identity crisis given its former life as some sort of Jack's Place style steak place complete with checked tablecloth and interesting props that definitely do not relate to any Hainanese heritage. However, it sings of its heritage loudly and clearly through the food.
Although it is most well-known for the soup-based version of beef noodles in beef broth, I think their semi-wet hor fun dish is the best thing on the menu here. It may not look like much in the picture, but this is one classy yet simple dish. Perfectly al dente kuay teow smothered in luscious black-bean flavoured sauce topped with a generous portion of tender beef slices, and garnished with spring onions, flavoured with a touch of spice from cut chili pieces are combined to produce a dish that is a piquant yet a filling and smooth meal on its own. The gravy does not resemble anything from the ubiquitous bottles of processed black bean sauce available on supermarket shelves. Whatever the chef has done to it with his special wok hei (breath of the wok) powers has transformed it into a noodle dish that holds its head as high or higher than the best pasta dishes in Italy.
The best part? After rushing around all day at work, this well-run establishment will take your orders by phone and have it ready for you to pick up in time for a quick yet satisfying dinner on an otherwise painful Monday evening. The restaurant does a whole lot of other tradtional Hainanese dishes as well at a pretty high standard and the nice thing is, they are very very proud indeed of their Hainanese food heritage. So there, Marco Polo.
Kim Moh Hainanese Restaurant
Laguna Park Block 5000F
Marine Parade Road
Food and Drink