Michelin Stars are kind of like a curse. While having a star certainly drives people to eat at the place, it sort of changes the crowd from a more local based one to a more touristy one. Perhaps not quite like “this place isn’t the same old place anymore”, but a little more like these places losing a little of its charm by joining the “possible tourist traps” group. But I digress.
It also increases the waiting time that I would have to wait. I visited the place at about 2pm, expecting that the slightly late timing would mean that there is lesser queue. Little did I know that it would still take me 40 minutes.
Strange thing is, though there is a long wait time, the queue itself isn’t actually very long, as above. Behind me are about 5-7 more people that joined in behind me later, but for 40 minutes, there is a ridiculous waiting time for about 8 orders in front of me. As someone who cooks, this is not exactly a complain, but it is something that is observed.
The typical Bak Chor Mee (what Tai Hwa is selling, even though they call it Pork Noodles) order is fast. Dunk fresh meat into stock, noodle into water. Ask “want chili or not?”. Gather 1 spoon of each of the sauce ingredients. Chill for 10 seconds. Noodles in. Meat in. Spring onions. Lard or whatever other toppings you have. Next customer. Pretty sure some experienced stall owners do the above faster than I typed it.
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles Price and Review
As of Feb 2019, there are options for S$6/S$8/S$10. I ordered the S$8. Other than Bak Chor Mee, the menu has fried flat fish, meat ball soup, seaweed soup, and bee hoon soup. But don’t bother with all that and just order their signature Bak Chor Mee.
Ordering is a bit unusual, as you queue up first, then when they are taking your order you go to the front and say what you want. After placing your order you join back to the queue where you were.
While Tai Hwa is distinctively Bak Chor Mee, it isn’t quite typical in its ingredients. There are lean pork slices, pork liver, and meatballs, and of course minced pork meat (Bak Chor stands for minced pork), which can be found in many stalls. Then there is the addition of dumplings and pieces of fried flat fish (not sure if it’s made of actual flatfish). Spring onions, classic Chinese dish garnish. Sauce wise, black vinegar forms the main flavor profile, instead of the usual blend which places less emphasis on the vinegar and more on the salty, savory components of soy sauce and mushroom braising liquid. Talking about mushrooms, that is entirely missing from Tai Hwa’s rendition, which to some might be a blasphemous act.
There isn’t anything to complain about taste wise. Noodles are springy with a good chew, cut in flat noodles to have surface area for the sauce to have even coating, giving a vinegary kick with a blend of savory elements. Though I asked for chili, it isn’t really that spicy, which might partially be because of the acidity from the vinegar bringing away some of the heat. The meat are cooked just right, though not very flavorful unless you coat it in the sauce and eat together with the noodles. Dumplings are an interesting addition, being a little sour, but juicy and sweet.
The accompanying soup is fantastic. Added to the pork stock are purple seaweed and some preserved vegetables (apparently Dang Chye or 冬菜), which makes this soup the highlight of the meal by intensifying the existing flavors of the stock.
Rating for Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles
I rate food based on how far I am willing to travel, as well as whether I think the price I paid for it justifies it. You can read more about why here.
While Tai Hwa executes the Bak Chor Mee well, I can’t say that I am willing to travel AND wait in queue just to eat a bowl. I would mark this place as an interesting variant of the Bak Chor Mee, but it is certainly not something that will persuade me away from ordering at my neighborhood hawker center.
Depending on whether time = effort or time = money, Tai Hwa is either a 2/5 (time = money i.e. literally almost anyone who is not a tourist) or a 4/5 (time = effort i.e. I have a lot of free time). At S$6/8/10 it is significantly more expensive than most Bak Chor Mees, but the generous toppings makes the overall price quite reasonable.
But I’m Just a Fat Boi… What do other people think?
There are literally too many reviews to have a proper round up. If you are willing to queue go for it. Otherwise avoid.
JunkAsia Michell Lin Guide – No more Kueh Tutu Michelin. Generally disappointed.
PewPewPew (home living blog) – Good, but the most you should queue is 30 minutes.
DanielFoodDiary – Used to be better, though still good.
SethLui – Too good to pass up. Would queue again.
MissTamChiak – One of the best. Though seems like an old review since the price range is S$4-6?
TripAdvisor – Mixed between people who are willing to queue and those who are not. Some also say that it just isn’t good. 3.5/5
Google Reviews – Same as above. 3.9/5
HungryGoWhere – As above.
Burpple – More positive than the above.
466 Crawford Ln, #01-12, Singapore 190466