Hor Fun For The Whole Family
It seemed about time we tried a Singaporean dish that’s been making us smirk since we first spotted it seven months ago. And so our little family set off for a ho lot of family fun.
Hor fun, also spelled ho fun, is a type of flat rice noodle, usually served with chicken and prawn. In our multi-lingual family, hor fun is sniggerworthy for two reasons. First, it sounds like whore fun in English. (That would be blindingly obvious to most readers). The second reason – ho fun sounds like Uncle Ho’s poo in Vietnamese. So you can imagine we were both keen to try hor fun, so we could casually drop funny comments about whore fun or Ho Chi Minh’s poo.
We found a family hor fun opportunity at Funan Weng Ipoh Ho Fun near the Tanjong Pagar MRT station. The selling point — a “kid play area” on Saturdays and Sundays. (Just what you need when you travel with kids, a kid play area!)
We wheeled our sleeping baby into an almost-empty restaurant just after 2pm on a Sunday. The play area was occupied by two little boys, playing quietly with a purple castle and some little dolls.
We studied the menu for our hor fun options. We decided to go all-out and get a set each.
Ipoh hor fun was introduced to Singapore’s street scene from Ipoh, Malaysia’s second-biggest administrative centre in British colonial times now famous for being one of the stops on the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur-Penang-Bangkok route.
This particular outlet evolved from a popular street stall that first began dishing up hor fun in 1955. It’s now a sleek air-conditioned restaurant but the menu proclaims the fare’s genuine street food credentials.
The menu describes the prawn with chicken ipoh ho fun as follows: “An all-time favourite, the prawns are fresh and succulent while the chicken is tender and flavourful. They are perfect complements to Funan Weng’s secret recipe homemade herbal sauce, making our Ipoh Ho Fun irresistible.” It does sound enticing but as I read it I have a pang of nostalgia for the garbled English of street food joints elsewhere in Asia.
Because I was in charge of ordering, Darling Man got the char siew and wonton ho fun. I ordered the dry version, not the wet version, which is soup. And I didn’t make any jokes about wet or dry poos or hos … because that would be juvenile.
Because we ordered a set each, we also recieved a glass of iced crysanthumum tea, a side of greens and a bowl of wonton soup, with two floating “gourmet dumplings” (lovingly handcrafted to culinary perfection with no MSG and preservatives added). Little signs on the table told us that the dumplings were available frozen, to take home.
We were halfway through our deliciously smoky silky noodles when Darling Man discovered the condiment station, all the way over the other side of the restaurant. He said his noodles were much better with a touch of pickled chili, chili sauce and soy sauce. I prefered the spicy pinkish stuff, which really gave the greens a kick.
The Divine Miss M woke up just as we were finishing up our intimate adults-only hor fun. Once released from the pram, she marched over to the play area to sieze control of the purple castle. But that was quickly cast aside in favour of a ride-on car with an intriguing front compartment. The tiny Pokahontus figurine went into the compartment, then came out, then in, then out. Hours of fun!
Meanwhile, Darling Man wandered over to where one of the managers was doing some paperwork to discuss the origin of the word “char siew”, the Singaporean name for Chinese-style barbecued pork. I am so happy to have worked the name out. I love that stuff! The Vietnamese word is xa xau, which sounds very similar to char siew.
The friendly chat went on for quite a while, then moved to the other side of the restaurant where Darling Man discovered one of the waitresses was from Vietnam. Miss M played with every item in the play area, her castle-rivals long since taken home by their parents. It was well after 3 when we finally headed out, satisfied and relaxed. And the bill came in under $15! Singapore’s food scene can be hard to navigate but this meal was a winner. I think we’ll be back to try some of the other “street food” on the menu, such as the crayfish!
Funan Weng Ipoh Ho Fun: 32 Maxwell Road, #01-07, Maxwell Chambers, ph: 6238 5038. Open Monday to Friday 11am – 9.30pm, Sunday and Sunday 9am – 9.30pm.
(Near the Tanjong Pagar MRT station and walkable from Chinatown.)
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12 years ago
Looks delicious, especially the bok choy!