Chia Keng Kway Teow Mee: Arguably the Best Mee Pok Tar in Singapore!


Mee Pok Tar (Special) $5, Fishball Soup extra $3

I have been blogging for 5 years now and have tasted my fair share of Mee Pok Tar.  I don't know why it took me all this time to eventually try Chia Keng, but let me just say this; I have finally found a Mee Pok Tar that is one head above all the rest both in taste as well as the amount of passion going into preparing it.  Now, taste might be subjective and what is superlative for me might only be great for you, so let's just consider this bowl of Mee Pok Tar based solely on objective points first.



Lard and Shallots mix

Firstly, the man who has been selling this for the last 50 years or so is still very much making all the ingredients himself.  His day starts at 2am in the morning, hand forming fishballs, then frying the pork lard and shallots, hand slicing the pork meat, cooking the mushrooms and making the fish cakes.  He is quite particular about his mushrooms.  With the $5 bowl, you will get one whole mushroom which is cooked to perfection.  It is velverty smooth, tender and not chewy at all.  The handcut pork, made from excellent quality pork loin is tender and sinew free and he would blanch small batches at a time and offer a few slices in each bowl.  Even his prawns are served whole and are excellent quality prawns with a distinct sweetness about them.  Then there is the sliced abalone which makes me really wonder how he can price the bowl at $5?

Next, let's talk about the sauce that goes into the bowl of noodles.  Even if you don't normally take chilli, you have to have this bowl of noodles with the chilli sauce as it is packed with umami from dried prawns and fried solefish and it really is not overly spicy.  He adds tomato ketchup to the mixture which gives the noodles a sweet and sour tang.  Then a generous spoonful of his fried shallots and crispy pork lard mixture joins in the party.  I know its sinful, but it's oh so good!


Perfectly sauced noodles

At some Mee Pok places, the noodles tend to be matted together and requires you to unravel the noodles and mix it with the sauce thouroughly.  But here at Chia Keng, I can guarantee that your noodles will arrive perfectly sauced, al dente and separate.  The uncle tells me that there really isn't any secret in the noodles.  The secret lies in a big pot of super hot water which he keeps on an furious rolling boil.  Each ball of noodles will get a first blanch, followed by cold water, then tested for firmness with his fingers before a final blanch before serving.  Having done this for the last 50 years, his timing is as impeccable and so are his noodles.

Finally, most fish ball soups are made with just the water from whence the fish balls were floating in.  But his soup is further sweetened with pork bones which are cooked overnight.  Don't be mistaken, this soup is a clear soup as a fishball soup should be, not like those served with Bak Chor Mee, where the constant blanching of minced pork results in swirls of pork precipitates suspended in the broth from which one can contemplate the physics of Brownian motion.



So, thus far I have only discussed what I have observed about my bowl of Mee Pok Tar.  Let me now proceed to discuss how it affected me emotionally.

The ingredients are all very fresh and you can taste the care and attention given to each item.  From the tender pork to the tender mushrooms they were all perfect.  If there were one thing that I wasn't too happy about, it would have been that the fishballs were just a tad firm and not as soft as I would like.  The noodles however were not to be overshadowed by the ingredients. I would have been happy eating the noodles with the chilli sauce alone.  The spicy, savoury, sweet and tangy flavours are perfectly harmonized and the noodles carry the sauce so well that your palate filled with flavour with each bite.  Just one friendly warning, you really feel a sense of dread when you see the last few strands of noodles at the bottom of the bowl, because it might be another 30 min wait if you wish to order another bowl!  4.75/5


Conclusion

I left the stall that day trying to think of another stall that can top this Mee Pok Tar experience and could come up with none.  Mee Pok Tar really does not get better than this.  The only bad news is that Mr Lee is 71 and only has 4 years left on his lease and has already decided to retire after that.  His son, who helps him at the stall does not want to take over, so we all have only four years left to savour this bowl of Mee Pok Tar perfection.

Postscript: 

In my conversation with Mr Lee, our venerable Teochew Ah Pek, I found out that Chia Keng was the name of the village where he first set up shop some 50 odd years ago.  This place is located along Yio Chu Kang road opposite where the Serangoon stadium is now.  Mr Lee also remembers the fried Hokkien Mee stall there which I believe refers to Chia Keng Hokkien Mee which is now at Chomp Chomp.  There used to be a Royal Air Force Radio Receiving Station at Chia Keng, and one of the serviceman at that time, a New Zealander by the name of Mr David Lehrle took many photos of the base and the surrounding area in the 50's and posted them online before he died.  This valuable photo archive can be found at http://www.freewebs.com/roverjag/.  Our tribute to Mr Lehrle for his service to Singapore both as an RAF serviceman as well as for creating this photo archive!

Chia Keng Kway Teow Mee
Blk 453A Ang Mo Kio Ave 10
#01-11 Chong Boon Food Centre
S561453
96446338, 93591838
5am to 2pm
Closed Mon and Fri

20 comments:

PaLmEr said...

Finally you visited this market near my house. The Fish Soup, Mee Siam and hokkien mee is very good too.

P. Chong said...

Great review Les.

Doan Xuan Loc Nguyen (a.k.a Justin) said...

Oh yes finally somewhere nearby and accessible by public transport :D. Gotta try this today. Btw I totally bursted into laughter when you mentioned Brownian Motion!

ieat said...

Go tomorrow! Today they are closed to fry chilli!

shelltox said...

I used to stay at the kampong in plantation avenue. the walk to the chia keng market is about 2km but we still walk all the way to savor his noodles. he use to talk with a loud voice and a typical teochew ah hia attitude.
However, I would say his meepok tar and kway teow tar during the heydays were much better than now.
you wrote about someone recommending the stall along hillside drive which is next to the mosque. I think it would be wise to give it a miss.

soundman said...

This is one of those gems that after you try a bowl of their mee pok tar you would want one more or immediately plan another visit. Now that this is out, we'll have to go there earlier than before.

Anonymous said...

i started patronising this stall in1980 when i was staying the neighbourhood. the taste is truly one of a kind. my only gripe is that the serving (to me) is small with too little ingredients!

ed said...

tried it today and was a little too salty for me, but surely a visit i did not regret and quite possibly the best mee pok tar in singapore!

P Cheong said...

I went there this morning around 7:45am. Was told I had to wait 25 mins. Ended up waiting about 35 mins. The mee pok tah could have been better. It was over rated and worth the wait.

Anonymous said...

I leave near the area and do agree with you on the standard of ingredients that go with the mee pok. however i've found the mee pok to resemble more like noodles soaked in oil and wouldn't recommend this to the health-conscious.

Anonymous said...

Over-rated.small bowl of noodles.bad attitude.the son(noodle server) attitude is the worse I ever seen.simply atrocious.it's like we owe him money or something.simply unacceptable.

P Cheong said...

I fully agree with Anonymous on the terrible terrible attitude of the uncle who took the order. So blatantly arrogant..and for such an average bowl of noodles

Anonymous said...

waited roughly 1h 15mins for the noodles on a sunday morning-afternoon.

small bowl of noodles yes, but it was the best abalone i've ever tasted in my life, oily but shiok noodles, and the sweetest pork slices EVER.

mushroom was not bad! had 4x abalone, 5~6 pork slices and abt 3 mushroom in my $5 noodles. i think they were sold out of prawns & fishball when it was my turn.

will i queue again? answer is probably not for 1h but i'd go early like 8AM and the queue time is roughly 20-30mins.

Anonymous said...

Tried it on Sunday morning as well. Reached at 10am, was told that waiting time is 30min, ended up waiting for 45min. Slightly upset that they mixed up my order when it came (it came in mee kia when I ordered mee pok), but I must say that the taste did not disappoint. The eell blanched noodles soaked in oily sauce was much better than your average hawker fare. Would certainly give it another shot since I stay 10min away by car.

Anonymous said...

We stay in Hougang. My husband and I will travel to this market for breakfast every day for breakfast. We are there just for Chia Keng’s noodle. No doubt the son does have taking order attitude. But after all we are there for their good QUALITY. He is still a nice guy. My husband is a die hard fan to this stall. Regulars are always willing to wait for their bowl of excellent noodle.

Holy Drummer said...

Was there this afternoon at about 1pm for lunch.

Luckily, I did not have to endure any long waiting time as it was a wet day, presumably less customers in the queue. Neither did I have to endure any arrogant attitude from the order taker. Maybe he might be mistaken by the looks but he took my orders to the point and promptly asked me to take a seat and wait shortly.

Ordered $5 mee pok tar with chilli of course. The highlight was the very tasty noodles. On hindsight I should have asked for the ketchup to be omitted as I really wanted to savour the perfectly cooked al dente noodles, well-tossed in the chilli and shallots.

Very fresh, quality ingredients. Can tell the difference in the meat slices, the 2 prawns and the juicy mushrooms. The abalone slices were a bonus, too. Even the presence of a fresh & good grade of green leafy vegetables (chye sim I think) stood out; preferred in the absence of beansprouts (for those who hate 'em).

Soup is 'cheng' (clear) and mildy sweet. But then I will stick to 'tar' (dry) whenever I visit.

N.B. I also tried Seng Kee Bak Kut Teh (#01-06) which was fantastic and well worth a review - can definitely rival Ng Ah Sio. Very tender ribs in a hot piping bowl of peppery pork broth - the perfect remedy on a cold and rainy day.

Also spied the tempting ter ka and the super fresh steamed grey mullet on many tables, which I missed.

P.S: And it seems like I have a crazy Chia Keng craving today. Chia Keng Kway Teow Mee for lunch, now hungry supper pangs calling for my favourite Chia Keng Hokkien Mee (previously known as 'Che Jian") @ Chomp Chomp.

kiki said...

Tried the Mee pok tar at Chia Keng this morning, I think the sauce is too thick and make the noodle very "lou" (Cantonese). Won't go back again. The one at Crawford lane is better.

Johor Kaki said...

I have written this down in my must try list ;D Thanks especially for the link on RAF Chia Keng. Remember those days when the RAAF and RNZAF soldiers were around in Singapore. Nice chaps really.

shuli said...

Been visiting this stall since i was young. This is the best bcm i've ever had. I personally enjoy the kuay teow version. it is less salty than meepok but still packs a punch. I saw a lot of comments on the son's bad attitude. When i first visited the stall, i thought the same too. but as time goes by, i have absolutely no complains about him. for $3.50 a bowl, you get prompt and efficient service. i've never seen him forget an order or lose track of things and that to me is excellent service in a hawker centre. plus, i've seen the way he interacts with the old customers and the tenants in the same market - he's actually a really cheeky fellow. you just got to know him better.

nowadays the old man don't cook as often as he used to. instead, the wife would take over the cooking. notwithstanding, i still find their chilli absolutely the best i have ever tasted.

ieat said...

Thanks for sharing your lifelong experience with us!

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