A passion for mee
I asked why he stepped into this harsh arena known as the food business and I could not get a decent answer.
I had to because Mr Derrick Kuah was, up to two years ago, an art director with an established agency where he handled accounts like Heineken and Nokia. It would have made an inspirational intro to this story.
He said something about how his mother-in-law from Indonesia ran Chinese restaurants and noodle houses there, plus something about how his father's steel business was not his cup of tea.
HAPPY: Mr Derrick Kuah with his noodle machine.
The best I could do was "listen between the lines", and I realised he had told me that he "wanted a hands-and-feet-on job". Boy, did he get what he bargained for.
This food business first-timer was full of ideals when he started, but the main fear he had was the manpower issue. He shared that "a few chefs did not turn up on the first day and there were days when no one showed up to open up the shop for the day".
He had to scramble and double up, but I could see no anger in his eyes because these slip-ups were more than made up for by the pleasure of seeing customers finish his noodles and coming back for more.
My Lor Bah Noodle
His noodles are the Indonesian bakmi type - springy, soft and slightly curly - and they are all hand-made on site almost daily. He cranks up to 20 portions a day and it is how I remembered Indonesia bakmi to be.
One of the best sellers is the My Lor Bah Noodle ($12.90), a huge pork roulade medallion of soy braised pork with mushrooms, braised yolky tamago egg, crispy wonton skin, greens with a sprinkling of crispy shallots and...lard!
If you like, ask for some sambal to stir into the soft and springy noodles swimming in the fragrant braised sauce. Eat it and you'll know why it's a popular item in the menu.
My Aromatic Prawn Noodle
The My Aromatic Prawn Noodle ($14.50) did not look like much, except for the pile of french fries (which are sliced prawn crackers) stacked atop three prawns.
But when you toss it, the mildly spicy hae bi XO sauce surfaces and, viola, it transforms.
I suggest you squeeze the piece of lime over it only after you've had a couple of mouthfuls. The lime twist to the XO sauce was enchanting and a little similar to bak chor mee.
Between the prawn dumpling ($7.90, and not in menu yet) and the meatball, I suggest the former. The prawn crunch was instantaneous upon the first bite and the wolfberry-infused prawn broth was agreeable.
The meatball soup ($6.90) was like how mum would make it.
The meatballs were soft and meaty, unlike the hawker-style version that has a bouncy bite because of how it is blended and subjected to a reverse osmosis trick (salting and extraction).
Muddy Lemon Milk
I also suggest you try their Muddy Lemon Milk ($3.90). I quaffed a glass easily.
I Want My Noodle
1, Scotts Road, #01-14/15 , Shaw Centre
- 11am to 10pm daily
KF Seetoh, the founder of Makansutra, dabbles in street food businesses like food markets, his own TV shows on cable, publishing food guides, consultancy and online content. He is also the creator of the World Street Food Congress. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.