From Thailand to Tanjong Pagar, mee Siam is a classic example of a foreign dish adapted to suit local palates. Here is where to get the best mee Siam in Singapore.
Mee Siam is a soupy noodle dish composed of vermicelli, egg, and taupok coated in a sweet and sour gravy. The name literally means ‘Siamese noodles,’ referencing the origins of rice noodles in present-day Thailand, and was brought here by Malaysian migrants.
According to Malay food expert Khir Johari, there are three styles of mee Siam found in Singapore. Dry mee Siam involves stir-frying fatter strands of noodles with a thickened paste. There is also mee Siam bĕrkuah, or mee Siam with gravy (see Johari’s recipe for this version here). Finally, mee Siam kĕring is a disappearing variant that combines thinner noodle strands with clotted coconut cream.
The dish is readily available at Singapore’s hawker centres, where stalls like Hup Hup, Jia Xiang, and Shi Xian have been specialising in it for over more than 30 years. Likewise at Robert, which has made mee Siam its sole focus, while Old Teochew is helmed by a former showbiz personality. There is also The Royals Cafe, whose mee Siam has been named the top in town.
Where to get the best mee Siam in Singapore:
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Housed inside Tanjong Pagar Plaza Market & Food Centre, this stall sees a constant long line for its mee rebus, lontong, and mee Siam. The latter’s orangey broth is richly concentrated with coconut milk and sharpened with a liberal squeeze of lime, and joins a large portion of bee hoon, egg, and crunchy tau pok.
(Image credit: @alvinongks / Instagram)
Part of Circuit Road Market & Food Centre, Hup Hup goes back 30 years when it was set up by second-generation owner Joseph’s parents. He has taken over the stall more than a decade ago, and sticks to the original recipe marked by a sweet and tangy gravy that embraces fried rice vermicelli, tau pok, beansprout, and a hard-boiled egg. Don’t sleep on the fiery house-made chilli.
(Image credit: Hup Hup Mee Siam / Facebook)
Current owner Tan Bee Eng has been involved in Jia Xiang since the late 1960s, when the then 11-year-old joined her mother in selling mee siam after Tan’s father died. She has long perfected her Chinese-style mee Siam, which features a thick and savoury broth resplendent with tamarind and soybean paste, plus chunks of fried crunchy croutons.
(Image credit: @seantan0206 / Instagram)
Old Teochew started its life on stage, when Chinese talent show winner Guo Wenwu and his wife turned to the hawker trade. Their mee Siam gravy is light and balanced between sweet and sour, and is topped with umami dried Japanese shrimp.
(Image credit: @lilyluvberry / Instagram)
Robert’s version of mee siam starts off with vermicelli tossed in a rattan basket with a sauce flavoured with tamarind and spices, giving the rice noodles an yellowish tinge. The sauce is thinner than other renditions here, yet evenly bounces between its sweet and sour notes, and doused with spring onions and crispy taupok cubes.
(Image credit: @fatyamball / Instagram)
From Teck Ghee Food Centre, Shi Xian has been dishing out Chinese-style mee siam for over 40 years. Their version involves chewy rice vermicelli, fried shallot, taupok, and a rich stock of assam and lime, brought together by a funky, homemade sambal. Their mee rebus is also highly popular.
(Image credit: @ykchua90 / Instagram)
The Royals Cafe’s Nyonya-style mee siam has been one of their signatures ever since the dish was voted the best by a local radio station. It has bouncy rice noodles and generous servings of prawns and taupok, while the rich sweet and sour gravy is thickened by peanuts and brightened by sambal. The halal-certified eatery is also popular for its nasi lemak and ondeh-ondeh cake.
(Image credit: The Royals Cafe Siglap / Facebook)