The ubiquitous bee hoon, also known as rice vermicelli, a kind of thin rice noodle known for its ability to absorb flavours from its respective condiments. It is prepared in numerous style throughout Asian cuisine, often as part of a soup or stir-fry dish, and sometimes as a salad, from the local fried bee hoon, satay bee hoon and mee siam, to Vietnam’s Bún Thịt Nướng and the Singapore-style noodles (星州炒米) that wasn’t even invented in Singapore. Also known as various cultural-attributed terms like meehoon, mifen (米粉), or bihun, to name a few, it’s an everyday staple that you can’t miss.

The spotlight in this guide is on ‘Chao Ta’ (burnt) Bee Hoon, also widely known as the JB-style San Lou Bee Hoon (三楼炒米粉), a zi char dish loosely translates to “three-storey noodles” in Mandarin popularized by Restoran Ah Kaw in Johor Baru. No matter which name it goes by, it is essentially stir-fried bee hoon flattened like a pancake, wok fire-embossed with plenty of crusty, charred edges on one side and yet remains moist and flavourful on the other side and within.

Similar to the bottom of a claypot rice dish that we are often caught scrapping smokey burnt rice from, the bee hoon is usually stir-fried with an assortment of ingredients that includes chicken, pork, prawns, squid and slices of fishcake, in a chicken, prawn or seafood stock with soya sauce, before being pan-fried to a crispy crust. Condiments such as crispy deep-fried pork lard, fresh bean sprouts, and spring onions are sometimes topped on the been hoon “pancake” and paired with a tangy chilli sauce.

Check out these 7 places for Chao Ta Bee Hoon or San Lou Bee Hoon in Singapore, in no particular order, and where you can find them!

 

Yong Kee Seafood Restaurant, Jalan Besar
Yong Kee’s golden pan-fried Crispy Bee Hoon is a dish that you will probably see at every table, featuring a variety of ingredients such as small prawns, char siew and slices of fish cake buried in the stock-infused, fluffy rice vermicelli topped with crispy bits of pork lard, fresh crunchy bean sprouts and spring onions. This highly-rated chao ta bee hoon starts at $6, to $18 for the largest portion, suitable for sharing among four people. Best of all, they serve this around the clock, for 24 hours!

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Yong Kee Seafood is located at 43 Jalan Besar, Shing Boon Hwa Food Centre, Singapore 208804, p. +65 6396 5390. Open 12am – 12am (Tue to Sun); closed on Mon.

 

JB Ah Meng, Geylang
The famed JB San Lou Mee Hoon (新山三楼米粉, $7/$11/$14) is a wok hei bomb imbued with smoky pieces of fried egg, dried shrimps, shreds of sweet-briny, chewy dried cuttlefish, contrasted with crunchy blanched chye sim vegetables hidden within the moist, flavourful rice vermicelli under the crispy crust. It’s a play of texture between the crispy crust, chewy flavourful ingredients and moist, smoky rice vermicelli. Now, due to JB Ah Meng’s popularity, there’s a considerable amount of waiting time, but the good thing is they have an air-conditioned section at this restaurant that was the recipient of a Michelin Bib Gourmand award in 2016.

JB Ah Meng 新山亚明小厨 is located at 534 Geylang Road, Lorong 30, Singapore 389490, p. +65 6741 2418. Open 5pm – 3am (Mon to Sun).

 

Perhaps more well-known for their robust black chicken herbal soup with mee sua, Seng Kee also serves up an excellent ‘Chao Ta’ Bee Hoon ($10) on top of their range of zi char fare. Seng Kee’s version is probably the most crispy and ‘chao ta’ version of all Chao Ta Bee Hoon on this list, and it comes with pieces of prawns, crunchy bean sprouts, slices of fishcake and lot’s of smoky, fragrant egg embedded into the charred bee hoon. Pair it with with sambal chilli and zesty lime to kick it up a notch!

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Seng Kee Black Chicken Herbal Soup is located at 467/477 Changi Road, Singapore 419887, p. +65 6746 4089. Open 11am – 4am (Mon to Sun). See their menu here.

 

Wet Market Zi Char, Ang Mo Kio
A coffee shop zi char joint by local artist Ben Yeo, specializing in Malaysian-style zi char dishes, especially for their KL Hokkien Mee and San Lou Bee Hoon ($14). The chao ta bee hoon from this under-the-radar establishment includes generous amount of stir-fried prawns, sliced pork, slices of fish cake, vegetable and egg within the moist and well-seasoned rice vermicelli noodles. It’s not the most crispy or smoky chao ta bee hoon, but it’s a pretty decent rendition that you can find in central heartland Singapore.

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Wet Market is located at 711 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8 #01-3501 S11 Food Centre, Singapore 560711. Open 11am – 10pm (Mon to Sun).

 

This claypot specialist does more than just claypot rice as they are also a bona fide zi char joint with a couple of specialties under their belt, including KL Hokkien Noodle as well as one of the most affordable chao ta bee hoon you will find. Don’t be mistaken by the price and “fairness” of Sembawang’s San Lou Bee Hoon ($4.80/$8.80) as this one is filled with plenty of prawns, vegetables, egg and slices of lean pork beneath the crispy charred layer of rice vermicelli that somehow managed to remain moist and springy inside. Bang for your buck.

Sembawang Traditional Claypot Rice is located at 4 Jalan Tampang, Singapore 758948, p. +65 6757 7144. See their Menu here (Facebook).

 

It appears that the northern part of Singapore is blessed with good zi char restaurants, likely due to the close proximity to Malaysia. Tucked in Woodlands Industrial Park, Malu Malu’s signature Fried Bee Hoon ($5) looks more like a giant fried omelette than chao ta bee hoon, due to the larger amount of eggs that they use to stir-fry and char the base of the rice vermicelli “pancake” to a distinctive eggy smokiness. For the price, the serving size of this affordable zi char dish is truly generous and it comes with lot’s of chicken, prawns, squid, slices of fishcake and bean sprouts. The only downside is the difficulty of accessing this zi char joint.

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Malu Malu Seafood is located at 200 Woodlands Industrial Park E7, #01-04, Singapore 757177, p. +65 9355 7783. Open 11am – 11pm (Mon to Sun). See their Facebook page here.

 

New entryWe have added Penang Seafood’s Crown Prince Spicy Mee Hoon (from $8) into our list. Check it out, it’s packed with large crunchy fresh prawns, fragrant pieces of smoky egg, chye sim vegetables and topped with crispy bits of fried garlic and shallots. It’s sinful and it’s delightful:

Penang Seafood Restaurant is located at 76 Lorong 25A Geylang, Singapore 388258, p. +65 6743 1622. Open 11am – 12pm (Mon to Sun). See their Website here.

 

We hope you like this list of Chao Ta Bee Hoon in Singapore. Which one is your favourite? Did we miss out any of your go-to spots? Please share them with us in the comments below!







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