Things we like:
– the incredibly potent stock
– generous lard pieces
– the chilli boosts the flavour nicely
Things we don’t:
– only for those who like the wet variety of Fried Hokkien mee
– lard pieces are not as crunchy as a result
– more smoky wok hei would seal the deal
– the chilli sambal is not necessary if you like the naked taste of prawn stock
One of the pioneering hawkers in the Toa Payoh area, Tian Tian Lai (Come Daily) Fried Hokkien Mee is practically an institution having been in the business since 1968.
They churn out a fried Hokkien mee that has a stock flavour that is incredibly robust. Instead of the usual blend of pork and prawn stock flavours, Tian Tian Lai relies on a dominant prawn stock flavour, enhanced using a generous amount of fried pork lard bits which is thrown in.
The fried Hokkien mee here is of the wet variety, so it comes with more than the usual amount of gravy, fried to a wet gooey consistency. This ensures that every bite has a dominant stock taste to it.
The downside is that the pork lard doesn’t come as crunchy as it should be due to the gooey gravy.
The taste is also more savoury as compared to Hokkien mee from other stalls, most won’t mind but it might be a minor deterrent for those committed to a low sodium diet.
The dish uses a mix of chor (thick) bee hoon and yellow noodles which have no alkaline smell to them and a texture that is nice and bite-y.
However, the noodles have no wok hei charring to them so there is hardly any smoky aroma to the dish. This is where the sambal chilli comes into play.
Oil rich, but with a moderate savouriness and hints of tanginess and sweetness, the sambal chilli is dried prawn based and has a stronger than usual smoky aroma to it.
It apps the flavour quite a bit but it’s almost not necessary if you’re one who appreciates the naked flavour of the stock.
The dish comes with prawns and squid pieces which are decently blanched They used to put in sliced pork belly but have since done away with that ingredient in recent years.