Last Updated: January 23, 2020
Prior to my trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I’d never heard of GO Noodle House. I only heard mutters of its unprecedented success—dishing out up to 18,000 bowls of its famous noodles daily to eager and yearning loyal diners.
And then I heard that they were planning to cross our infamous border and lure as many Singaporeans as they could with their family recipe.
How successful is their business, you ask? Within a short span of five years, co-founder Lee Hon Wai, Alvin Tan Kok Meng, and Mok Wai Peun, have catapulted their humble noodle business—which started in 2014—to 37 outlets in across Malaysia, and even one in Melbourne, Australia. In late 2019, they brought their second overseas outlet to Singapore, at [email protected].
With their business on the rise, there are future plans to get a slice of the food scene in New Zealand, Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
The standout trait of this modest noodle dish is its story. Hon Wai was so blown away by a dish lovingly made by Alvin’s mother, that he was confident that its recipe was worth investing in. The secret, it turns out, is the addition of yellow rice wine (shao xing hua diao jiu) that elevates the broth and differentiates it from all other noodle broths.
Also, much like how mother starters work, the original pot of broth, which has been boiling continuously for six years, is kept in a fire-proof room in Shah Alam. This is to ensure consistency in flavour and even mouthfeel for all soupy noodles served. Even Singapore will use the same ‘mother broth’, as it’ll be frozen in large blocks and transported over land.
Another fun fact to add is that the broth is made up of forty different kinds of fish bones, sourced regionally from the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia! The factory-line process of the kitchen highlighted the great attention to detail in every bowl that gets sent out.
The fishballs are handmade with care and precision, as are the noodles, which are also delicately pressed and pulled to great refinement.
Touring around their kitchen, I was also in awe of how pristine and sterile it was. I don’t know why I was expecting a flurry of action behind hot stoves, but I suppose too much reality television had me thinking that all professional kitchens were haphazard chaos of pots, pans, and raw meat.
Instead, I was greeted with order, and methodical processes that translated into piping, delicious bowls of slurpy noodles.
In the dining area at one of GO Noodle House’s outlets in Kuala Lumpur, there’s a corner where they stock aged rice wines for regular diners who wish to partake in merry-making whilst tucking into a bowl of noodles. This bottle-keep service, from my belief, is something unheard of for a casual dining restaurant.
I also had the privilege and honour of tasting their rice wine throughout various vintages—beginning from 10 years and beyond. I’m no connoisseur of wine, let alone rice wine, but the vintages after 20 years were quite punchy and warranted very tiny sips.
Sides are a must when you’re trying to quell your hunger while waiting for mains to arrive. One that’s great for sharing is the Trio Platter (S$12.90), consisting of Five Spice Meat Roll, Crispy Fuchuk, and Gold Coin (Pork). In one platter, you have a great variety of textures—chewy, crispy, and soft.
The Gold Coins were a delight to snack on, given they were like bite-sized pucks, with a denseness that wasn’t too thick to gnaw through. The Five Spice Meat Roll had a pleasant grittiness to it, along with a subtle kick of spices that came through at the end.
But my must-order choice has to be the You Tiao (S$4.90). Call me a simpleton, but this local snack truly won me over, especially with luscious, thick kaya for dipping. The crisp exterior of the youtiao contrasted beautifully with the goopy kaya. It was so satisfying that we ordered another round for the table (even before the mains arrived).
At GO Noodle House, you simply have to order their Signature Bursting Meatball (Pork) (S$10.90 for Superior Soup, S$11.90 for Homemade Spicy Soup). For all noodle dishes, you get to pick between Mi Xian (their homemade noodles) and Bee Hoon, as well as top up with additional protein, vegetables, and/or extras (up to a maximum of three add-ons).
I have to give caution about biting into these succulent pork meatballs too soon, as they really did exude plenty of heat even after repeatedly blowing on them. A half bite reveals the juiciness within, and the ample savoury pork that hides inside.
The soup itself wasn’t heavy on my palate; it was mild and slightly fishy—although not displeasingly so—yet full-bodied enough to be a distinct element in the entire bowl. It was hard to nail what exactly made this soup so memorable, but I could take a wild guess that the assortment of fish bones used was greatly responsible.
Another signature dish from GO Noodle House is their Homemade Fish Paste (S$11.90 for Superior Soup, S$12.90 for Homemade Spicy Soup), with fish paste that’s handmade from scratch with mackerel meat.
The fish paste was a nice balance between springy and chewy—something that’ll make you want a bowl to yourself.
Of course, you can’t miss out on their Homemade Pan Mee selection. The most popular of all is the Special Dark Sauce With Onsen Egg (S$8.90). Use your discretion to add additional toppings like Fried Anchovies, Black Fungus, or Chilli Paste Oil for only S$1 more.
The best way, naturally, to enjoy the entire bowl is to toss everything together, so you get subtle slaps of salty, bitter, sweet, sour, and even umami in a single bite. Let’s not even mention textures: there was a muddle of crunchy, silky, and chewy textures that simply made it too irresistible to stop, despite how satiated I was feeling.
It’s always admirable to see when modest family recipes lay the foundation of a flourishing business. It’s even better when you can witness first-hand the dedication of the crew, and the immense effort it takes to ensure quality and consistency, and the cherry on top is when you get to consume the fruits of all that labour.
GO Noodle House may seem like any other noodle restaurant, but it’s hard to ignore the earnestness of the owners in wanting to not only feed hungry diners, but also share their love for frank, stripped-down homemade food.
Expected Damage: S$5 – S$16 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
Go Noodle House
313 Orchard Road, [email protected], #B3-37/38, Singapore 238895