At City Square mall, Face to Face Noodle House has a clever pun for a name in Chinese. “Mian” 面 means “face” or “noodle” so it can mean tete-a-tete between close ones or face-buried-in-noodles. With noodles so delicious, no wonder friends and family come here to bury their faces in noodles.
Face to Face has a long history of 100 years, started by the founder Aidan Goh’s grandfather in Sarawak. When Goh began the business in KL, it took off by word-of-mouth and expanded to 30 outlets, selling 2 million bowls of noodles in Malaysia yearly. Now it’s in Singapore!
The Singapore outlet is run by one of the shareholders, Daniel Tan, to ensure tiptop quality. It took them 3 years of research to come into Singapore. In Malaysia, they get their supplies from Sarawak. But Sarawak’s suppliers usually belong to small, family-owned business and they don’t have the strict certification that Singapore AVA requires. Face to Face has to source very hard. For example, they tried pork suppliers from 7 different countries to make sure the noodles have the same flavors as in Malaysia. They wanted to ensure that when they open in Singapore, the food is the best quality.
In Singapore, Daniel and his staff make noodles freshly everyday, and fry their own chilli and ikan bilis. By the way, you can tell they use high quality ikan bilis because good ones bloat and remain crispy. The ikan bilis is damn shiok.
Unlike the menu in Malaysia with over 50 items, Singapore outlet is more focused, and brings over the top 8 most popular items. The noodles are split into dry or soup.
For the dry noodles, the traditional Sarawak Noodles ($8.90) and Hot & Spicy Pan Mee ($8.90) are bestsellers. I prefer the latter. Of course, I have to compare it to the other famous KL shop, Kin Kin. Kin Kin’s chilli flavors are in the oil, so the noodles are oiler and have stronger flavors, whereas Face to Face is lighter and subtler, focusing more on taste, with the sweetness of seafood in their chilli.
The soup noodles are outstanding. For the house specialty soup pan mee ($8.90), the homemade noodles are different from elsewhere because they use a higher proportion of egg to flour; it’s very smooth and silkier, gliding down the throat. Don’t even need to bite. The soup is light, boiled with ikan bilis, pork bone, and soy bean. It’s not the heavy flavor from Qiu Lian ban mian; it’s lighter and more refreshing.
Both the curry chicken mee ($11.90) and herbal chicken soup pan mee ($12.90) have limited portions a day (about 25 portions). The curry chicken pan mee is cooked with 10 Indian spices, tasting more like Indian curry, than Chinese curry. I’m a big fan of Indian food, so I like this.
They used to allow their staff to eat whatever they wanted for lunch, and all the staff chose the herbal chicken soup pan mee, leaving nothing for the customers! They cook the herbal soup using 11 different herbs. The herbs cook at different timing, so they have to cook this dish in 3 stages, adding herbs at the right time, cooking it overnight. Because it’s so time-consuming, there are limited portions. At first, I thought they were using mee sua for the noodles, but they are using pan mee made into mee sua.
One of the best ways to see if a restaurant is good is not to look at the main dishes, but to look at the side dishes and drinks. And even the side dishes and drinks are good here! The hakka yong tau foo (5 pcs $7.50) is Aidan’s mother’s traditional recipe, and uses mackerel fish and minced meat with 50% fat. Of course, like other dishes, this yong tau foo is made freshly everyday, cutting whole fish up to make into paste.
Even the drinks are outstanding. The iced signature organic coffee ($5) is similar to Ipoh’s style of white coffee: fragrant and sweet. Homemade multigrain soymilk ($3.50) is delicious and grainy, which I like. On my next visit, I’ll order the very pretty caramel 3 layer tea ($4.50).
When I compare Face to Face to other food in this price range—the value set is only $9.90, available all day, everyday—Face to Face is one of the best food I ate this year. It is comforting and delicious food at an affordable price. After eating at Face to Face, I whatsapped Mr Fitness immediately. (Mr Fitness is Malaysian and he has eaten at the KL outlet long time ago.) I said, “Face to Face is so good! We need to come back here soon!”
Face to Face Singapore
180 Kitchener Road, City Square Mall #02-23/24, Singapore 208539
T: +65 6595 6595
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.