I first tried Yunnan’s famous “Crossing the Bridge Noodle (过桥米线)” during a trip to Yunnan, China about nine years ago.
This dish has an interesting history and name origin. Via wikipedia:
The bridge-crossing noodle’s origins are uncertain. One likely theory is that it originates from a bridge in southern Yunnan in Mengzi County, where there is a rice vermicelli tradition at least 100 years old.
Another explication is in the following story; A scholar was studying hard for his imperial exams. A large earthen pot was loaded individually with pig bone or chicken soup. Noodles and other ingredients were kept in another container. When his wife combined them just before eating, they became a nutritious bowl of steaming noodles. This was thought to have two advantages: a thin film would form on the surface of the soup, keeping it warm, and eating became more efficient because the noodles and soup were together. This allowed the student to study harder.
There are many claims to the name origin of the bridge-crossing noodle. There is a claim when a scholar sent his wife to buy noodles from the other side of a bridge. So when the husband asked his wife the name of the novel dish, she replied Guoqiao mixian or crossing the bridge noodle.
Another origin of the name comes from the eating of rice noodle. Due to the action of taking fresh noodles from one bowl to another, one has to pick noodles from a bowl full of soup. The process is similar to crossing a bridge between bowls, hence it was termed “bridge-crossing noodle.”
There is also another saying that when the wife crossed the bridge to the husband, carrying the meal in a basket, she tripped and accidentally poured hot broth into the bowl of raw meat. When she opened the basket to have a look, the meat was found to have been boiled, but also tasted delicious. Since the dish originated from a trip on the bridge, the name of the dish accordingly made reference to the bridge.
The first time I tried it, I still remember it was a very cold night. My business partner, Andy and I were there on a work trip to shoot and edit videos for a conference. Both of us were still undergraduates and were very happy to get an opportunity to work on an overseas project like this. We had just finished work at around 6 or 7pm and were wandering the street of Yunnan to search for a dinner place.
We kept seeing signboards touting “过桥米线” at different restaurants and decided to try it as the noodle comes dipped in hot soup which seems perfect to us to beat the blistering cold weather. We chose a random roadside restaurant, ordered and tucked in.
Till now, I am not sure whether it was the coldness or my youthfulness, but that bowl of 过桥米线 I ate on that day – it is one of the best bowl of soup noodle I ever had in my life.
Since my return to Singapore nine years ago, I have been searching for that perfect bowl of 过桥米线 or even a restaurant that serve this dish to no avail.
Finally, I came across a Yunnan specialty restaurant, 红锅过桥米线 (Hong Guo) that serves 过桥米线 at nex shopping mall! I was very excited and told Rachel that we have to try this!
We ordered their signature noodle and a plate of fried rice to share.
The rice was disappointing. It seems like a dish that was added to cater to local taste, but come across as a hybrid of Singaporean tze char cooked with a Yunnan twist that did not mix well.
The 过桥米线 was reasonably good.
Rachel and I quite like the soup base for it’s light soup seasoning. The ingredient could have been more generous. You can count the strings of meat and veggies.
Overall, the restaurant is priced quite reasonably at around $15 per pax for a main course with a drink. Stick to the 过桥米线 when ordering.
It does not match up to what I had tried in Yunnan, but this is the only restaurant in Singapore which I know serves this dish.
Do you know of other Singapore restaurants selling authentic 过桥米线? If so, please recommend it to me. I am still hunting for that warm, shiok feeling I had after eating my first bowl of 过桥米线 in Yunnan…
红锅过桥米线 (Hong Guo)
Location: nex, 23 Serangoon Central, #B1-75 , Serangoon, Singapore 556083
Phone: +65-6634 4675