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拉面 La Mian World

the quest for the perfect noodle

When I was a little boy, I saw the Columbia sitting on the ramp in Cape Canaveral. After that I wanted to become an astronaut for many years. Though I did not become one, I managed to make NASA send me a number of nice space shuttle mission photographs from the US all the way to my home in Europe.

Discovery is the name of NASA’s second space shuttles. It also was my motto for last weekend’s food choices. Well, maybe not in terms of the kind of food, but in terms of location. I am still working on trying out all the La Mian places, that the Epicure magazine considers the ten best in Singapore. This time I ventured to Tanjong Pagar’s Kampong Bahru Road.

Along a stretch of shop houses are the usual sleazy-bars next to cheap eateries and, to my surprise, two amazingly trendy looking cafes. However, the actual target for discovery was the Savor Rey La Mian Xiao Long Bao Restaurant off Epicure’s list in one of these shop houses.

It starts to dawn on me that my understanding of the best La Mian and that of the guys of Epicure may significantly differ. I asked the friendly waiter at Savor Rey whether the noodles would be freshly hand pulled and he said, they are ‘home made’. What does that mean?

It is time to get serious about things! What are the La Mian World criteria for any eatery to be considered in the best La Mian category?

1. Freshness: The noodles have to be hand pulled freshly for every dish served,

2. Craftsmanship: When you look at the noodles you must utter: ‘wow, that is amazing how evenly sized they are, although he just pulled them in front of my eyes’ (bonus points for front-of-the-eye-open-kitchen-la-mian-expert-chef-pulling),

3. Experience: In your mouth the La Mian are blowing you away with their balanced composition of texture, al-dente-ness and flavour of the dough,

4. Composition: Neither the sauce, soup, meat or whatever it is the dish consists of, can dominate over the noodle. The La Mian speak for themself but are complemented with superior sides.

Ticking through the list, Savor Rey does not fall into the best La Mian category. Not that I did not like the noodles that I ate here, and for sure nothing can beat their prices, but I would not put them on my favorite La Mian list. Since this is not a sell-out food blog, like… some others in Singapore, I don’t have to rave about every place I go to.

Walking back, I entered into Stranger’s Reunion Cafe attracted by its raw wooden door as well as accumulation of funny vintage chairs and table arrangements inside. Great coffee, cool ambience and good cake – this is what I rave about!

Let’s pull it together and forget about the Epicure list. I continue to go out to discover on my own the world’s best La Mian!

Savor Rey La Mian Xiao Long Bao Restaurant, 3 Kampong Bahru Road, Singapore

Stranger’s Reunion, 37 Kampong Bahru Road, Singapore

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