Beef noodles are a staple of most Southeast Asian countries, each with their own spin. It's called kuai tiao nuea nam in Thailand, whereby flat rice noodles are served in a steaming hot bowl of heady, watery broth seasoned with fish sauce, sugar, and black pepper. Vietnamese pho bo uses similar rice noodles, but its broth is comparatively muted, spiced with black cardamom, fennel seeds, cloves and enlivened by refreshing mint or purple basil. Laos 'foe' is a fusion of the Thai and Vietnamese styles, where classically Thai ingredients such as lemongrass, fish sauce, and galangal flavour the broth, while toppings such as mint and purple basil are a deference to Vietnamese influence. In Malaysia and Singapore, laksa noodles are slathered in a thick and rich gravy redolent of thick soy sauce and star anise.
In Taiwan, beef noodles are so beloved as a national dish, it has its own festival. I love love LOVE Taiwanese beef noodles, it's subtle like pho bo but grounded in the earthy heft of five-spice powder and Asian medicinal herbs.
A French-Chinese wordplay on the moniker "The Cow", Le Nu is a Taiwanese beef noodle bar concept under the Paradise Group. As the only Taiwanese beef noodle specialist in Singapore, I was eager to see if it'll hold its own against its Taipei counterparts.
While I didn't think Le Nu was an authentic take on, or even on par with, Taipei's offerings, Le Nu's beef noodles were pretty decent on its own. Just leave your preconceived notions of Taiwanese beef noodles at the door. Like, I would simply think of LeNu as serving a good bowl of beef noodles, in a style entirely of its own. The broth was too full-bodied, too flush with soy, and its herbal accents too cloying, to be reminiscent of Taiwanese beef noodles. I mean, the Taiwanese beef noodles we love in Taipei, easily at first look, is notably clearer in appearance.
The Braised Wagyu Beef La Mian Noodles ($14.80) was potent and robust, but more elegant and less heavy than the local Teochew soupy style, and the wagyu was, for a less-than-$15 bowl, adequate.
The Braised Fresh Beef Noodle ($10.80) which beef stock was spiked with chilli, was lively and delicious. The beef was found wanting though, chewy and sinewy, and I'd suggest forking out an additional 5 bucks for the wagyu option.
The Braised Pork Ribs with Scallion Dry Noodles ($9.80) passed muster but was forgettable. The la mian, pulled in-house, had a lovely chewy consistency.
The Braised Beef Tendon Dry Noodles ($10.90), slicked in a savoury and robust sauce, and topped with bonito for added oomph, was unique and lovely.
I really liked the Long Jing Tea Lava Egg ($1.80), which boasted a lovely aroma of tea leaves.
Ditto for the Poached Chinese Cabbage in Soy ($4.80) which possessed a delightful crunch.
LeNu Chef Wai's Noodle Bar
1 Harbourfront Walk #02-91
Tel: 6376 9039
Open daily from 10am to 10pm