11 Types of Noodles in Singapore You Can't Miss Out On

11 Types of Noodles in Singapore You Can't Miss Out On Trying

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Let’s Get Tangled Up In Food Adventures: Discovering The Types Of Noodles In Singapore

Enter the vibrant culinary melting pot that is Singapore. This part of Southeast Asia is renowned for its rich and diverse food culture that draws inspiration from various Asian cuisines, and international ones too!

But among all the popular dishes of Singapore, there’s a particular one that holds a special place in the hearts of locals and tourists alike. The humble noodle.

Noodles in Singapore come in countless shapes, flavours, and sizes, reflecting the delicious rainbow that is Singapore’s food scene. This means that dishes called “Singapore Noodles” or “Singapore Mee” that you see in other countries are at best, simply names that do not truly reflect the colourful nature of noodles as a whole.

Which is why we’ll be exploring all the noodles you can find in Singapore along with the related noodle dishes that you simply must try. So the next time someone tells you “this Singapore noodle dish is so good”, you’ll know for a fact that they aren’t aware of even a sliver of it. ;)

11 Types Of Noodles & Their Signature Noodle Dishes That You Simply Must Try In Singapore

Char kway teow with prawns, beansprouts, chives, eggs, and yellow noodles. Photo by James Teh.

1. Kway Teow (Char Kway Teow anyone?)

The humble kway teow is a staple in many Southeast Asian dishes, such as the popular char kway teow or even kway chap in its squarish form. You may also find it being referred to as rice flour noodles by non-locals or in other countries.

Kway teow noodles are made by mixing rice flour and water, sometimes followed by a type of starch like corn starch to give it added chewiness. It is then spread thinly on a cloth stretched over boiling water to steam or cooked into sheets directly on a non-stick pan, which are then thinly sliced into the noodle form we know and love.

Kway teow noodles in broth. Photo by Alice @ gofindalice.

Kway teow is typically flat, wide, slightly chewy, and smooth thanks to the oil that coats the rice noodles for a much easier time handling it, else it would end up becoming a sticky ball of mush. It’s the best noodle for dishes with a rich broth as it easily absorbs the flavour of the broth to ensure every bite is packed with flavour.

Hor fun noodles in rich gravy. Photo by SingWei Wong.

2. Hor Fun

Hor fun is incredibly similar to kway teow, so much so that they are often confused with one another. It’s known for being the star in comforting Chinese-Singaporean and wok-fried dishes with gravy like the classic beef hor fun which you’ll often find in hawker centers (your average Singaporean coffee shop) and zi char restaurants.

Hor fun noodles are flat rice noodles made with the same ingredients as kway teow, with hor fun being the thicker and broader noodle of the two. This makes the thick, chewy silkiness of hor fun simply perfect for dishes with ample gravy that are cooked over high heat for the sought-after wok hei.

Yellow noodles used in a noodle stir fry. Photo by Leonardo Luz.

3. Yellow Noodles

Think pasta, but Asian style. What you see is what you get when it comes to yellow noodles. Yellow noodles are round, slightly springy noodles with a slightly chewy texture and a distinctive yellow appearance that is often found in the ever iconic hokkien mee, mee goreng, and curry mee.

It’s commonly made with wheat flour, eggs, and alkaline water or alternatively water with alkaline salt. The wheat flour is mixed with eggs and alkaline water to form a dough, which is then kneaded, stretched, and sliced into thin strands.

The combination of egg yolks from the eggs and alkaline water gives it a naturally vibrant yellow colour. So if you were worried about it being yellow because of food colouring, you can rest assured that it is all natural. That 's also why it’s sometimes fondly referred to as egg noodles!

Laksa noodles in curry both. Photo by Leslie Koh.

4. Laksa Noodles

Anyone who lives in Southeast Asia, especially Singapore and Malaysia, would have definitely heard of laksa. Be it the coconut milk-rich curry laksa, Sarawak laksa, or the popular laksa Johor with bean sprouts for those who regularly cross the Causeway for retail therapy in Johor Bahru.

Laksa noodles are thick, round, and soft noodles that are made with a combination of rice flour and either sago or tapioca flour, which gives it a translucent appearance. Which is why it is versatile enough to be used in soupy dishes like curry laksa or drier dishes with thick gravy like laksa Johor.

Mee sua with beef chunks. Photo by Pesce Huang.

5. Mee Sua

Mee sua is a unique type of noodle that is often served on birthdays and auspicious occasions to symbolise longevity in Asian culture that originated in China, with the Taiwanese oyster mee sua dish being its more common counterpart. Its texture is rather delicate, with the noodles itself being very thin, soft, and smooth as you’ll usually be taught to slurp the mee sua noodles over biting it.

How mee sua is made involves mixing wheat flour and saltwater into a dough, which is then spun into fine threads and air-dried before being packaged in boxes with a little red string wrapped around its folded form at times. This is a stark difference as other noodles are often packaged in plastic, whereas the delicate and symbolic nature of mee sua calls for firmer packaging.

Rice vermicelli noodles up close from a noodle stir fry. Photo by Kate Romeo.

6. Rice Vermicelli (A.k.a. Bee Hoon or Mee Hoon)

Rice vermicelli is an incredibly versatile noodle that you’ll find in many dishes ranging from stir-frys to soup dishes like the local classic fishball noodles to the tangy, sometimes spicy Malay-Peranakan mee siam and hokkien mee as an accompaniment to yellow noodles.

While locals sometimes refer to it as the Asian angel hair pasta, it is a much thinner version of it. It’s very thin, with an almost hair-like texture while being light. Those who want to enjoy noodles but prefer something lighter would almost always opt for rice vermicelli over the heavier yellow noodles and kway teow.

Rice vermicelli noodles. Photo by Lily Banse.

Making rice vermicelli calls for almost the same method as kway teow as it uses the same ingredients, which is rice flour and water. The only exception is that it uses a thin batter, is finely sliced after steaming, and stored without oil coating it at times.

Mee pok in one of the most popular Singapore noodles, bak chor mee. Photo by yptay mad.

7. Mee Pok

Mee pok is sometimes confused with pork noodles to those of non-Teochew origin, but it is actually flat egg noodles that are made with wheat flour, eggs, and alkaline water. Sounds similar to yellow noodles right?

Mee pok has a light yellow-ish hue, appears flat, a little wide, and is slightly chewy as it’s always cooked till al dente. Think of it as flat ramen noodles, only wide and slightly broader than the more textured yellow noodles. 

You’ll often find mee pok being served in the popular Singaporean Teowchew bak chor mee dish, the dry version of fishball noodles, and the classic Hakka noodles with minced pork and a dash of fried pork lard (sometimes with shrimp paste). That said, bak chor mee would undoubtedly be the most popular dish amongst locals when it comes to mee pok.

Silver needle noodle cooked in dark soy sauce. Photo by Darren N.

8. Silver Needle Noodles (A.k.a. Mee Tai Mak, or Rat Noodle)

Don’t be alarmed by the name because no rats are associated in the making of silver needle noodles. Silver needle noodles are often referred to as mee tai mak, rat tail noodle, or lao shu fun because of its unique rounded and short, but thick shape that tapers toward the ends.

It’s also made with a similar method to the popular kway teow with essentially the same ingredients. However the difference between the two is how the noodles are shaped in the process.

After mixing the rice flour and water with the select starch, the rice flour batter is extruded through a specific noodle press to form thick, short strands of noodles before it is boiled or steamed and coated in oil to prevent them from sticking to one another.

Hand-torn ban mian in anchovy broth, also known as ikan bilis broth. Photo by Kuan Heon Lau.

9. Ban Mian (A.k.a. Pan Mee or Ban Mee)

Ban mian is a highly popular noodle, to the point where its signature dish (a favourite common dish in Singapore and Malaysia) takes after its name - ban mian or sometimes pan mee.

This particular noodle makes one of the most comforting dishes to eat in Singapore where ban mian stalls usually have it served in a light anchovy broth with minced pork, meatballs, Chinese black fungus, deep fried anchovies (ikan bilis), and sayur manis leaves as the ultimate classic combination.

Ban mian is made from a higher concentration of wheat flour, less egg compared to yellow noodles, and water so it doesn’t have the yellow-ish hue found in yellow noodles. The way it’s made involves rolling out the dough then cutting it into strips, or tearing the dough apart by hand after rolling it flat with a noodle machine.

Which is why it comes in two distinctive forms; the usual long, thin noodle strands, or the more home-style torn shapes. That said, both forms share the same thick, chewy texture, with the only difference being the thicker and more chewy texture of the hand-torn version.

Glass noodles up close from a japchae dish. Photo by chudesabyvaut.

10. Dong Fen (A.k.a. Glass Noodles or Cellophane Noodles)

Popular in most Asian cuisine, dong fen is known for its translucent appearance when cooked. While it has the same springy properties found in most types of noodles, dong fen in particular is thin and slippery in texture.

Dong fen is made from starch originating from mung bean or potato, with potato being the more popular choice for recipes derived from China and even South Korea. This includes dishes like stir-fried glass noodles with napa cabbage and the classic Korean japchae (sweet potato starch noodles). Some recipes even include dong fen as an ingredient in baked pastries found commonly in China and South Korea (hotteok anyone?).

Yi mian Singapore noodles. Photo by Kenny Chua.

11. Yi Mian (A.k.a. Yee Mee)

Yi mian, also known fondly as yee mee, is a popular noodle in Cantonese cuisine that typically involves braised noodle dishes. Similar to ban mian, the yi mian’s signature dish is often referred to via its namesake so you won’t go wrong by requesting for yi mian at your local hawker centre.

This noodle type is round, slightly wavy, highly absorbent, and its uncooked state is a crispy, pre-fried form. That’s because it’s made by mixing up a dough made of wheat flour and alkaline water which is then rolled out, sliced thinly into noodle strips, then pre-fried before it is dried.

So in essence the yi mian noodles are already cooked, and you’ll need to soak it in rich braised gravy to soften it enough for consumption. Which is how restaurants commonly serve it - yi mian in a clay pot of gravy that usually has a rich flavor (often stir-fried for the desired wok hei) and texture that also serves as its “soup”.

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