Everyone in Singapore knows about our first Michelin-starred Soya Chicken Noodle (Yau Kai Meen). Perhaps many have queued up at its Chinatown shop that seemed to be full 24/7. If you are willing to try out a franchise outlet, then you can consider making the trip to Tai Seng for a better chance to taste the famed hawker fare.
Tai Seng? You ask. Yes, even after the opening of Circle Line, Tai Seng remained a mystery to many Singaporeans, who at most knew it as just another station on the line. However, in the recent few years, the area around the station (which is just 2 bus stops from Comfort Driving Centre) has been given a new breath of live. Many local enterprises have opened (or even built) their HQ in the area, most notably Breadtalk and Charles & Keith.
One of the new buildings is 18 Tai Seng. As low-key as the building sounds, its first-level shopping strip houses a whole variety of F&B outlets for every budget. The anchors, as can be seen from the road, are Tim Ho Wan and the stall-of-the-day: Liao Fan Hawker Chan.
Unlike the stall at Chinatown, the outlet at Tai Seng was bright and airy, thanks to its high ceiling and better seat planning. The queue was long as usual (it’s a Michelin-starred restaurant, for goodness sake), but you get to queue in the comfort of the restaurant, albeit in aircon.
When I visited Liao Fan Hawker Chan on a Sunday evening, there were about 10 people in the queue and it took us about 15 minutes to get our food. The seats were mostly taken, but if you are travelling in small groups (like 2 pax) and are willing to share tables, you should have no issue finding a seat.
N told me that the star for Liao Fan Hawker Chan was its Soya Chicken Noodle, but the gem was its noodle, not the chicken. Therefore, if you have not eaten its Soya Chicken Noodle (and ordered its rice instead, or the roasted meat alone), then you are not fit to judge the food in Liao Fan Hawker Chan!
If you ask me, the chicken was nice; the meat was tender and infused with a hint of sesame oil, making it light and flavourful, which was unlike the average Soya Chicken where the taste of the soya sauce overpowered everything else. I liked how the caramelised skin added another layer of texture (i.e. 口感) to the chicken! The chicken fared higher than average, though it stopped short of being the best I have tasted.
The noodle was amazing. It was so springy, I had trouble controlling my chewing (just kidding)! In the world of noodles, the chef aims for their noodles to be light, chewy, yet not dry and not oily. (If you think of it from another perspective, a bowl of lousy noodles is characterized by its clumpy and mushy taste). Liao Fan Hawker Chan used the thin yellow noodles, typical for Soya Chicken Noodles, and cooked the noodles to the right degree of bounciness. If you want to go down to details, yes, you can feel every strand of the noodle on your tongue! The accompanying sauce was easy on the palette, complementing the balance of the noodles and chicken.
If you are craving for a Michelin-starred fare, but concerned about the crowd, then Liao Fan Hawker Chan at 18 Tai Seng is a great choice. Do be aware that there is almost no shopping (the best I can offer is NTUC Fairprice) available in the area.
Liao Fan HK Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle
18 Tai Seng St
In case you’re wondering: Will the Soya Chicken Noodles taste good with sambal chilli? Let me tell you that I had tried it for you.
On its own, the chilli was decent. However, it totally overwhelmed the taste of the chicken, because the soya was light. In fact, if you look at the picture below, before I even tucked in to my noodles, I could see how the chilli had ruined the dish.
As before, my stand is that chilli is only to be used/added when the dish is bad. There’s no point in spoiling a decent dish with chilli, especially when the original taste was what the dish was known for!