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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tiong Bahru Lor Mee VS Lor Mee 178 @ Tiong Bahru Food Centre, Singapore

Apart from the traditional toast sets and fried dough fritters, Lor Mee (鹵麵),  is next in line when it comes to my favourite breakfast bites. The Hokkien-inspired noodle dish is served in a thick dark gravy, made of corn starch, spices, eggs and usually comes with various ingredients such as ngoh hiang, fish cake, meat dumplings and braised egg. It is best eaten with the usual condiments - garlic, chinese parsley and chilli, (vinegar too, but not for me), as it enhances it's taste. Although traditionally served with fried fish toppings, different adaptations and even methods of cooking have since been adopted by the many stalls, providing diners a wider variety of choices and selections of the original dish.
If you are looking for a good bowl of Lor Mee (or rather, any other local cuisine) in Singapore, do look no further than the highly acclaimed Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre. After recent renovations, the hawker centre now serves tasty and hygenic food - in a much cleaner, spacious and satisfactory environment. It also features two of the best stalls in town if you want to have a bite of that starchy goodness.

More often than not, following your kiasu instincts and lining up for the longest queue is actually the best method in discovering great food. Well.. That is if you do not mind waiting up to 30 minutes during lunch hours, just to slurp down a bowl of noodles from Tiong Bahru Lor Mee. It is not difficult to understand why the long queue when you get your hands on their Lor Mee, the noodles are of the right texture, without being overwhelming chewy, and the braised gravy - the soul of the dish, is thick, smooth and of the right consistency.

It is served with the usual fried wanton, fishcakes, braised egg, ngoh hiang and crunchy beansprouts. Their Lor Mee comes in regular and large sizes at S$2.50 and S$3.00 respectively.

A close competitor of the same speciality that has queues as long, Lor Mee 178 (178 probably means "prospering in wealth together" in Mandarin) differentiates itself from the rest by adapting shark meat nuggets into their Lor Mee. Besides the usual ingredients, they also serve it with a handful of fried fritters, which most Lor Mee stalls have long gone subtracted it away, and that is a plus point to 178. Although it turns soggy (or rather, less crunchy) when drenched in the gravy for too long, the fried nuggests still retained its soft flossiness texture, and the coating of gravy actually enhances its flavour.

The price sets at S$2.00 for a regular-size, and S$3.00 with added shark meat nuggets.

To determine which Lor Mee reigns over the other, let's compare the following:

178's usage of traditional fried fritters and shark meat nuggets is a plus.
178's gravy is smoother and lighter in texture, but loses out in terms of flavour.
TBLM's noodles are more well-cooked and it is better in texture.
178's is more value for money, comparing pricing to the serving size/ingredients.


It is quite a never-ending debate to decide which Lor Mee is better, but if I have to go with one between the two, it would be Tiong Bahru Lor Mee.

Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre
#02-80 (Tiong Bahru Lor Mee)
#02-58 (Lor Mee 178)
30 Seng Poh Road