Rickshaw Noodles

Posted on 29 Feb, 2012 | Eat Magazine

a fast disappearing heritage food rarely seen in today’s hawker centres

This dish is unique to Singapore and would not be found elsewhere, as even here in its birth land rickshaw noodles are fading fast. So far My Heartland Mag was able to find only three food stalls selling rickshaw noodles.

Rickshaw noodles or La Che Mian (Mandarin) or Kan Chia Mee (Hokkien) means the "pull-vehicle-noodles “.The dish was named after rickshaw/trishaw riders who were its usual customers who ate them throughout the day to fuel them as they plied their routes pulling their rickshaws. It was then the cheapest dish that the drivers/pullers could afford. It was said to be the staple of the poor also in the early days of Singapore.  According to Makansutra author KF Seetoh, the dish was born at Jinricksha Station, the building opposite of the Maxwell Market where it was used to be the largest congregation point of rickshaws in Singapore.

Rickshaw noodles is a dish of stewed Hokkien yellow noodles in pork broth, with bits of minced meat and cabbage or kangkong, topped with fried garlic, shallots and anchovies.  It may certainly not be as appetizing to look at but it certainly has its appeal in its simplicity. Each mouthful is wholesome and filling. Nowadays, you can jazz up your noodles with either add-on ingredients, or side dishes, like taukee (dried beancurd skin), fried fishballs, dumplings, or fishcake. Several generations ago, this dish is made with more ‘oomph ‘ with pig's blood and bits of pork.

Madam Soh Pho Tee who won the Original Hawker Food Award for 2011 for this heritage dish has been selling rickshaw noodles for more than 40 years.  Her mother Madam TeoAw Teow started the food stall in 1943.  The dish used to be sold at two cents a bowl in the 1940s when rickshaw drivers abound and had to be replenished with a simple nourishing dish.

No wonder that this affordable dish is not a main stay in most hawker centres! With the majority of rickshaw drivers gone, the demand for this simple dish had plummeted but not altogether. The stead queues at all three stalls were robust despite the absence of rickshaw drivers.  Its new patrons are simple folks who just want value for their money and an authentic taste of the past.

Note: There is a handful of trishaw drivers still plying routes, more for the tourists than locals, in Bugis, Chinatown, Little Indiaareas. A ride can set you back to about $20 to $35

Zhong Guo Jie Rickshaw Noodle (China Street Cooked Food)
1 Kadayanallur Street, #01-87 Maxwell Food Centre (S) 069184
Cost:  80 cents
Open: Daily 6:30AM to 1:30PM  Offday: Fridays

To make it more robust, you could order a side dish or have add-on ingredients like deep fried tofu, mini spring rolls and ngoh hiong)

Tao Yuan Cooked Food
Blk 38A Beo Crescent, #01-78 Beo Crescent Market & Food Centre (S) 169982
Cost: $1.20
Open: 4AM to 2PM   Offday: Friday
Telephone : 96567378 

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