Hock Lai Seng (福来成): 22-year-old hawker whips up solid bak chor mee at Maxwell Food Centre

If you happen to be dining at Maxwell Food Centre and pass by Hock Lai Seng Teochew Fishball Bak Chor Mee, don’t underestimate the 22-year-old hawker running the stall.

Hock Lai Seng 11 - storefront

Hock Lai Seng - Marvin

Despite having only opened in early 2023, this stall has been gaining popularity amongst bak chor mee purists— and for good reason too. The young chap helming the stall is Marvin Kan, and he’s a 4th generation hawker who learnt the ropes from his family at Ah Ter Teochew Fishball Noodles.

In fact, you might even say that bak chor mee runs in Marvin’s family, as Ah Ter is his grandfather, who founded the stall in 1958. Marvin even used to help out at the well-loved hawker stall during his secondary school and NS days, and even worked there full-time for a year after ORD.

It was only in early 2023 that Marvin decided to make a name for himself, and set out to start his own brand at Maxwell Food Centre. Hock Lai Seng, or 福来成 in Mandarin, can be translated to “good fortune will come to pass”.

What I tried at Hock Lai Seng Teochew Fishball Bak Chor Mee

Hock Lai Seng 10 - bak chor mee

Hock Lai Seng’s menu is as straightforward as it gets. There are only 4 menu items on its signboard, and each are displayed without text— just photos and numbers.

There’s 1 (S$4.50), aka bak chor mee with no soup; 2 (S$6), which is bak chor mee with soup; and 3 (S$8/S$10), which features bak chor mee with a bigger bowl of soup. There is also Fishball Soup which you can purchase à la carte at S$4.50.

I decided to order number 2 and requested for mee pok noodles, but you can also request for mee kiamee tai makkway teowbee hoon, yellow meemee sua or tang hoon.

Hock Lai Seng 09 - bak chor mee

I loved how my bowl of bak chor mee looked. Saucy yet not overly drenched, each strand of mee pok had been well tossed in a concoction of sauces comprising vinegar, ketchup, sambal, mushroom braised sauce and pork lard.

Hock Lai Seng 06 - mee pok

I was blown away by my first mouthful of noodles. Despite the multiple sauces added into the mixture, this was an incredibly well-balanced bowl of bak chor mee.

There was a mild acidity from the vinegar and slight sweetness from the ketchup, but I could also taste a full-bodied savouriness from the mushroom braised sauce, which acted as the perfect base for everything else. Not to mention, the sambal wasn’t as spicy as I feared, and the heat only came towards the end of each mouthful like a gentle smidgen of pepper.

Despite it already tasting quite robust and savoury, those who prefer a stronger sharpness from the vinegar might not be entirely satisfied. That can be easily fixed by helping yourself to more vinegar on the side.

Hock Lai Seng 05 - lard

Hock Lai Seng was generous with the other ingredients in my bowl of bak chor mee, and I spotted plenty of pork lard, sliced braised mushrooms, and spring onions.

The spring onions came in large chunks and were a tad bit too sharp and herbaceous for me, but I utterly enjoyed the sinful chunks of crunchy pork lard and juicy braised mushrooms.

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Hock Lai Seng 08 - soup

Hock Lai Seng 01 - soup ingredients

The S$6 option came with a large bowl of soup on the side, and for the price alone, I was really impressed with the generous amount of ingredients given. There were handmade fishballs, a meatball, a prawn, fishcakes, liver slices, sliced meat and vegetables!

Hock Lai Seng 02 - soup

This was the real star of the show, as Hock Lai Seng’s soup managed to be amazingly full-bodied with a natural sweetness that made me go back for more. Plus, despite being so flavourful, it was clear in colour— a true feat. I also enjoyed the plentiful amount of minced meat in the soup, which added a springy bite to each spoonful.

Turns out, Marvin’s secret behind the stellar soup was hours and hours of boiling pork bones and other ingredients for at least 4 hours. No wonder it was so naturally sweet and comforting, yet robust and tasty.

Final thoughts

Hock Lai Seng 07 - bak chor mee

This must’ve been the most well-balanced yet tasty bowls of bak chor mee I’ve ever had. Most of the ones I’ve tried were either lacking in vinegar, too salty or strong-tasting, or lacking in flavour altogether. Hock Lai Seng’s rendition of this traditional favourite was just nice— vinegary, full-bodied, and slightly sweet.

Plus, the bak chor mee and soup were a perfect pairing. The former was savoury while the latter was naturally sweet, and despite the overload of flavours from both sides, I was left feeling satiated and not the least thirsty (which can be the case with some bak chor mee places, as they use too much MSG).

It’s clear that Marvin has got himself a winning combination here at Hock Lai Seng (福来成) Teochew Fishball Bak Chor Mee, and if this remarkable bowl of bak chor mee is what he is churning out at 22, I can’t wait to see what his future is like.

Expected damage: S$4.50 – S$10 per pax

Other articles you might like:

Ah Gong Minced Pork Noodle: $2.50 soupy bak chor mee in a bubbling claypot in Maxwell Food Centre

Danlao: Ex-Eggslut chefs whip up HK-inspired scrambled egg rice bowls at Maxwell Food Centre

Price: $

Our Rating: 5 / 5

Hock Lai Seng (福来成) Teochew Fishball Bak Chor Mee

1 Kadayanallur Street, Maxwell Food Centre, #01-26, Singapore 069184

Our Rating 5/5

Hock Lai Seng (福来成) Teochew Fishball Bak Chor Mee

1 Kadayanallur Street, Maxwell Food Centre, #01-26, Singapore 069184

Operating Hours: 7am - 5.30pm (Mon to Wed & Fri), 7am - 3pm (Sat & Sun), Closed on Thu

Operating Hours: 7am - 5.30pm (Mon to Wed & Fri), 7am - 3pm (Sat & Sun), Closed on Thu