“Mee siam”, Malay for “Thai noodles”, is one of the more popular street foods in Singapore. It consists of “bee hoon” or thin, white rice noodles in a sweet-sour-spicy gravy. The commercial version of mee siam is usually served with tofu puffs, hard-boiled egg, and beansprouts, whereas in homemade versions, we also usually add par-boiled shrimps and poached chicken meat, to make it a one-dish meal.
We were down at Bukit Merah, a working-class housing estate in the south-central part of Singapore last weekend, because a couple of my friends wanted to check out a highly-recommended mee siam spot there.
Jia Xiang Cooked Food stall occupies #01-35 of Redhill Food Centre in Bukit Merah Central. It’s currently run by 64-year-old Mdm Tan Bee Eng, earnest and very proud of the little food stall started by her mother nearly half a century ago.
Mdm Tan’s version ticked all the boxes of the dish, as described in Infopedia Singapore:
" The gravy, made with tamarind, sugar, shrimp, belacan (shrimp paste) and taucheo (soya bean paste), is poured over the bee hoon and the dish topped with sliced hard boiled egg, fried tau pok (bean curd), bean sprouts and Chinese chives.4 A dollop of sambal tumis (a type of chilli paste) rounds off the dish."
The rendition here is milder than some I’d tried around town, and suits my taste, although I think many Singaporeans might be looking for those with sharper and spicier flavours.
Jia Xiang also offers lontong - compressed rice cakes with spicy, coconut milk-rich gravy. I’ll have to make another trip back here to try that.
Jia Xiang Cooked Food
#01-35 Redhill Food Centre
85 Redhill Lane, Singapore 150085
Opening hours: 9am-8pm daily