Li Yuan Mee Pok, Hougang: S$7 Japanese-style mee pok with miso, shoyu and chashu

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you combined ramen and mee pok? You’d get Li Yuan Mee Pok, a humble bak chor mee stall that sells Japanese fusion mee pok.

Photo of chef

The brains behind Li Yuan Mee Pok is 55-year-old Japanese chef-owner Naoji Kuribara, who left his cushy finance job at a local Japanese company in 2014 to venture into the F&B line. 

He initially started out by selling Japanese food in a kopitiam, but dropped that after meeting the tow kay of the neighbouring stall, Ah Hoe Mee Pok. After trying their bak chor mee, Chef Naoji decided to take on a six-month apprenticeship at the stall to learn the ropes of making bak chor mee.

Photo of chef

After the apprenticeship, he put his own unique spin on the classic bak chor mee and came up with a Japanese version instead, incorporating authentic Japanese elements such as miso, shoyu and chashu, and that’s how Li Yuan Mee Pok came to fruition.

Li Yuan Mee Pok has done pretty well since then, with five outlets in Singapore: Commonwealth, Hougang, Bedok Reservoir, Boon Lay Way and Clementi.

Fun fact: Li Yuan is actually the Chinese pronunciation of Chef Naoji’s last name, Kuribara, when written in kanji— 栗原.

What I tried

Photo of bak chor mee

I was excited to try Chef Naoji’s Japanese Fusion Mee Pok (S$7). For the first bowl, I decided to try its Shoyu (Dry) variant and asked for mee pok noodles.

It came with two large slices of Japanese chashu, abalone, meatballs, beansprouts, minced pork, and was topped off with lard.

Close up of noodles

My first impression: Wow. 

This is definitely not your typical bowl of bak chor mee. The sauce is distinctly different— it’s sweet, creamy and filled with umami flavours, with just the right amount of tanginess and saltiness to balance it all out. 

To some extent, it reminded me of the rich tonkotsu broth you’d get with tsukemen, but slightly sweeter.

It was only later that Chef Naoji told me what goes into the secret sauce. “The base sauce consists of garlic, ginger, potato starch powder, milk and Japanese whipping cream,” he said. “Afterwards, I add shoyu or miso, depending on the order.”

Close up of char siew

The chashu slices were wonderfully tender and springy, with a good amount of fat-to-meat ratio. I liked that the meat had also absorbed all that rich flavours from the sauce, making each bite a real delight.

This bowl of mee pok had plenty of meaty elements, and I ended up alternating between the fatty chashu, minced pork and smoky pork lard for each bite.

There was still that familiar bak chor mee element to this dish, thanks to the mee pok noodles, pork lard and minced meat, but the shoyu sauce and chashu jazzed things up.

Photo of bak chor mee soup

For comparison, I also tried Chef Naoji’s Japanese Fusion Mee Pok (S$7), but went for the Miso (Soup) version with mee kia this time round.

Comforting and hearty, this would probably be what I envisioned if I had combined ramen, seafood soup and bak chor mee together, and this bowl of noodles instantly hit the spot.

Close up of soup

The soup was the undisputed star of the dish. It was rich and full-bodied, with a good sweetness from the broth, which was made from chopped cabbage, soy beans and chicken and pork bones, and a creaminess from the miso paste and Chef Naoji’s secret concoction.

The mee kia soaked up the rich broth well and even though I was full from a previous tasting, I found myself unable to stop from polishing off this bowl of noodles.

If you’re looking for a comforting bowl of noodles, no matter if it’s a rainy day or if you’re just looking for something soupy, this is it.

Photo of mushroom minced meat noodles

If you prefer the classic bak chor mee, Li Yuan Mee Pok has that as well. I tried its Mushroom Minced Meat Noodles (S$5) and went with mee pok

I noticed that it came with thick, plump slices of mushroom, as well as three slices of abalone.

Close up of noodles

Chef Naoji was generous with the sauce and I didn’t even have to add any soup before giving the noodles a good mix. I liked how the sharp vinegar hit my tongue instantly, and the mild chilli crept in slowly after. 

Close up of braised mushrooms

The braised mushrooms were really soft and juicy. I could taste the saltiness from the oyster sauce, and I found myself savouring these little slices of heaven throughout the meal. 

All in all, this was a classic bowl of bak chor mee— something you won’t go wrong with.

Final thoughts

Photo of noodles

While my dining companion voted the bowl of dry shoyu mee pok as his favourite dish, I found myself gravitating towards the soupy miso mee pok instead for its comforting and rich broth, which left me satiated and happy. This was a bowl of ramen-meets-bak chor mee that I thoroughly enjoyed.

It’s true that Chef Naoji’s Japanese fusion bak chor mee isn’t the cheapest around and not many people would pay S$7 for a bowl of noodles, but you’re getting a lot more than just a regular bowl of bak chor mee. There’s that added Japanese twist from the creamy rich sauce and fatty chashu that makes it uniquely special, and something you should definitely try if you’re ever in the area.

Expected damage: S$5 – S$10 per pax

Other articles you might like:

Shinjitsu Ramen, Ang Mo Kio: S$5.90 ramen with torched chicken drumstick hidden in coffee shop

JOFA Mee Pok, Tampines: Guaranteed goodness for dry and soup Bak Chor Mee in the East

Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Li Yuan Mee Pok

511 Hougang Avenue 10, Singapore 530511

Price
Our Rating 4/5

Li Yuan Mee Pok

511 Hougang Avenue 10, Singapore 530511

Operating Hours: 8am - 7.30pm (Daily)

Operating Hours: 8am - 7.30pm (Daily)
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