I'd heard such a lot of rave reviews of "that Sembawang white bee hoon", but never got around to making the trek up north. The distance, coupled with purported nightmarish waiting times, was quite the effective deterrent.
But then one day after hitting the Island Gym off Upper Thomson, we thought we'd hit up the famed cze char eatery, since we were in the area. Or so we thought.
Turned out, Upper Thomson was a good 25 minute drive, through horrendous traffic and a ridiculous number of traffic lights, from White Restaurant (rebranded from its previous coffeeshop moniker You Huak Restaurant).
So, was the white beehoon worth the distance? While the cze char was commendable, in that familiar old-school way, the food wasn't uniquely outstanding. However, the production-line style of operation meant that service was run with Japanese-level efficiency. Orders are taken at the reception, even before you're seated, so dishes are churned out swiftly. Turnover is brisk, because the harsh florescence and spartan utilitarianism of the restaurant doesn't quite encourage lingering. All things considered, including that face-licking encounter with the fluffiest goldie taking his evening walk, White Restaurant makes for a worthwhile cze char option, but only IF you're in the area. I don't think it's worth a drive far north for anyone not within its hinterland.
The Meat & Seafood Roll ($10), despite assurances by the front-of-house that it was free of parsley/coriander/cilantro/spring onions, arrived, lush with coriander leaves. Obviously, not my favourite dish. But if you're a fan of these herbs, pair them with the house chilli blend available on every table instead of the insipid gloopy Thai chilli sauce accompanying the rolls; the piquant spice is distinctively more complementary.
The Sweet Potato Leaves ($8), stir-fried in sambal, was fragrant with dried shrimp, robust and scrumptious.
The Sambal Sotong ($12), contrasted with green capsicum and tomatoes, was perfectly cooked, firm but yielding.
The Seafood White Beehoon ($10), with crunchy greens, egg scramble, fresh prawns and squid, was delicate and nuanced, the faint sweetness of a seafood stock having steeped into the rice noodles. To kick this up a notch, drizzle that punchy table-side chilli and stir it all over.
The Original Sembawang White Beehoon
(You Huak Restaurant)
22 Jalan Tampang
Tel: 9843 4699
Open Thursdays to Tuesdays from 11.30am to 10.30pm; Closed on Wednesdays