Singapore, Singaporean Food

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle: Is It Worth the Hype?

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Bak Chor Mee, aka Minced Pork Noodle, is one of Singaporean’s most well-loved dishes. Affordable, comforting, and delicious, you’ll find Bak Chor Mee (lovingly abbreviated as BCM) in practically every hawker center around Singapore.

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle is undoubtedly Singapore’s most famous BCM. Having been popular with locals even before they earned their one Michelin star rating in 2016, the stall still commands long queues even during off-peak hours.

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
The original Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle stall

As the name implies, Tai Hwa Pork Noodle was started in Hill Street in 1932 by its founder Tang Joon Teo. When he passed away, his sons continued the business. At some point in 2004, they moved to Marina Square before moving again to a small eating house in Tai Hwa Eating House on Crawford Lane in 2014, where they reside up until now.

Things to know about visiting Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Payment Method – They only take cash or PayNow, which is only available to Singaporean residents who have a Singaporean bank account. If you’re visiting Singapore, bring some cash.

Opening Hours – The stall is open from 9:30 AM to 8:30 PM every day, but they close on public holidays and during Chinese New Year. Check their facebook page before heading down! They will announce stall closures there.

Waiting Time – Each bowl is made fresh to order. By my own estimation, it takes about 3-4 minutes to prepare each bowl, so if there are 15 people in the queue… be prepared to wait close to an hour.

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
Tai Hwa Eating House

Two stalls? – They’ve made it pretty clear that there are no other stalls of Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle. But, there are in fact two stalls at Crawford Lane. The one on the far right near the toilets is by the original owner. The one on the left is by the daughter. I’ve ordered from both so you can scroll down to see what I think!

Tai Hwa vs Tai Wah – There is another pork noodle in Singapore called Tai Wah Pork Noodle, which received Michelin Bib Gourmand. Don’t get confused between the two, even though the spellings are similar! They are not located at the same place.

Pre-order for Takeaway – If you don’t care about eating at the hawker center, it is also possible to preorder an hour before you’re due to arrive for a takeaway order via WhatsApp at +65 9272 3920. This way, you don’t have to wait around at the eating house for your noods. It is also now possible to get a delivery via the same Whatsapp method, but you’ll need to order a day in advance.

What to order at Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

The dish that they’re famous for is the Gan Mian (No. 3 on the menu). It is dry Bak Chor Mee – the noodles are tossed in oil and vinegar, served with toppings of minced pork, sliced pork, meatballs, pork liver, wonton, and fried salted fish. Each bowl will be served with a side of small soup with seaweed.

But, there are still a few variations at Tai Hwa Pork Noodle. You’ll need to choose the portions small ($6), regular ($8), or large ($10). The small portion does not come with wontons. There are three different types of noodles: mee kia (thin egg noodles), mee pok (wide egg noodles), or kway teow (white rice noodles). You can also request it to be spicy by adding chili, or omit the vinegar if you don’t like it.

For me personally – the regular portion, not spicy and with Mee Kia is my go to order!

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
Spicy Bak Chor Mee with Mee Kia from the daughter’s stall, regular portion
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
Gan Mian with Mee Pok from the daughter’s stall, regular portion

The Original Stall vs The Daughter’s Stall: What’s the difference?

As I was saying before, there are two Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle stalls at the same eating house on Crawford Lane. The one on the far right by the toilets is the original stall, and the one on the left is by the daughter.

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
The original Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle stall
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
The daughter’s stall

You’ll notice the original stall first because it would still have a long queue, while the daughter’s stall does not seem to have any queue when I went in the morning on a Tuesday, just a few patrons here and there.

Quick scan of online review says the stalls are both the same, and the uncle himself says it is the same. While waiting, we even noticed the same workers going back and forth between the two stalls.

But, due to the lack of queue at the daughter’s stall, the Singaporean in me was having doubts. I wanted to know for myself if there is truly no difference! So, as the queue was still very manageable when I visited, I put them to the test. I ordered gan mian from both stalls and ate them back to back:

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
Gan Mian with Mee Pok from the daughter’s stall
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
Gan Mian with Mee Kia from the Original Stall

Right away, you’ll notice the plating – they’re both the same. The taste? Well, what do you know – they’re totally the same too! Just so you know, the sons who took over the business and earned the Michelin star, no longer prepare the noodles even in the original stall. I still saw him helping out around the stall, but he now does other admins – he was preparing the takeaway order when I was there.

So there you have it, there are virtually no differences between the two stalls. No need to waste time queueing at the original stall if there is a long queue – just head to the daughter’s stall.

My Personal Thoughts: Is it worth the hype?

So back to the BCM itself – is it worth the hype?

Well, it could be due to the Michelin hype, but I expected more.

Food review is hard because it’s all personal taste, but I felt the vinegar at Tai Hwa’s BCM was too strong. I really should have asked for less vinegar, but for a Michelin star, I expected the dish to come balanced from the get-go.

Don’t get me wrong – on its own, the noodles are still really good, especially for their price. I appreciate that the pork meat is high quality (doesn’t have a strong smell) and the liver has a nice tender texture. I also wish there were more fried salted fish, as I enjoyed the added crunch and umami flavor. But this is easily remedied as I could order extra fried salted fish as a separate dish.

Overall though, I think it’s still worth a visit because of the low price, and that the location is not inconvenient (Just a stone throw away from Lavender MRT). But only if there is not a long queue or if you go straight to the daughter’s stall. Don’t waste your time queueing at the original stall.

Well, that was my experience eating at the first Michelin-starred Asian stall. I hope that helps you decide whether you want to visit or not.

If you’re visiting Singapore, please check out my Singapore travel guide and my other posts about Singapore.

Until next time! 👋

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Filed under: Singapore, Singaporean Food

Written by Melissa

Hi there! 👋🏻 I'm the "Girl" in Girl Eat World. I love eating, traveling and sharing my travel experiences in this blog. During the day, I work as a designer in tech. More about me →

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