When the Thai Boat Noodle (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ) craze hit Malaysian food scene in Apr 2014, I was already based in Bangkok. I even had tried it before without giving it too much thought. Just another type of Thailand noodle. Furthermore, most Thai boat noodle’s soup stock is enriched with raw cow blood or pig’s blood. Yukes!! So I normally avoid boat noodle altogether or opt for the clear soup version, minus the blood.
So when friends started posting bowl-stacking photos back home, my food antenna picked up foodielicious signal … what have I missed out? Since I am based here in the ‘Land of Boat Noodle’, might as well just have the authentic one minus the ridiculous queue. Cheaper some more.
Boat noodle just reached Singapore’s shore in Feb 2015, selling at SGD 1 to SGD 1.90 per bowl. Malaysia at RM 1.90. In Bangkok, you can still find 10 baht to 15 baht per bowl.
A bit of background: It’s called Boat Noodles because the noodles were originally served from merchants on boats floating in Thailand’s canals. This guy who sold boat noodles would have been the only person working on a small boat, and would have had to do everything by himself from paddle a boat, scald the noodles, season the soup, serve the dish, check the bill and wash the dishes. If the bowl was too big, it would be difficult to hand over to the customer on the land and might be easily spill. This is the reason why the boat noodle’s bowl is small, for the convenient and safety of the merchant. (Source: Wikipedia).
Of course nowadays boat noodles are located on the land, or next to a canal or river. I am sure that you can still find boat noodles being sold on a boat at floating markets. The noodles are still in small portions as was in the past.
In Bangkok itself, there are many places to eat boat noodle, and I have also tried the famous boat noodle restaurants at Victory Monument. My verdict? Ya …. it’s nice, but it’s not like to-die-for. I think the hype has faded in KL too. I no longer see bowl-stacking photos on friends’ Facebook. Gosh. Imagine the relief of the makcik doing the washing. Well, I hope they do a proper job! *shudder*
Today’s lunch was at a local boat noodle joint at Bangkapi. I ordered four bowls to try out all the different types of noodle:
- sen yai (big rice noodles) – a white, flat noodle made from white rice flour
- sen mee (rice vermicelli) – a small wiry looking rice flour noodle
- sen leg (small rice noodles) – a medium flat rice flour noodle
- woon sen (cellophane noodle) – a very thin, wiry, clear soya bean flour noodle
I like sen lek the most.