Crazy Rich Asian Food: Rice Noodle Dishes

Inspired by the food in “Crazy Rich Asians”? Learn more about Singaporean rice noodle dishes and how to make laksa.

I have been looking forward to seeing “Crazy Rich Asians” - the movie version of the bestselling book by fellow Singaporean and author Kevin Kwan - on the big screen. The romantic comedy is set in my hometown of Singapore and best of all, it features an all-Asian cast, including some of my favorite actors: Michelle Yeoh, Tan Kheng Hua, and Constance Wu. I finally had the chance to see it, and if you haven’t watched it yet, definitely go check it out! Having read all three books, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the movie come to life, and reminiscing about all of the different places I grew up with in Singapore.

My favorite parts of “Crazy Rich Asians” were the luscious, drool-worthy food scenes, especially the ones featuring Singapore’s hawker centers and local dishes. In fact, the movie triggered a huge wave of nostalgia for me, and a craving for Singapore’s crazy rich rice noodle dishes. Let me explain.


I have always loved food since childhood. I learned to cook from my father at the age of 7, and have had a bug for cooking ever since. Our family loved making food at home, but also eating out at hawker centers. The hawker center nearest to our home was particularly famous for its stalls, and we would visit it almost every single day.

Eating at hawker centers is a huge Singaporean tradition. Hawker centers are massive open-air complexes of food stalls featuring inexpensive delicacies, and you can find them in most neighborhoods. With common seating areas surrounded by food stalls from a few dozen to a few hundred, hawker centers are truly the ultimate foodie’s mecca. Usually each stall only offers a couple dishes which that vendor specializes in. That means you can get a snack from stall #54, appetizers from stall #79 and noodle bowls from stall #102. The flexibility to customize your meal to satisfy your various desires is part of what makes the experience so wonderful. No two meals are the same.

Our family would go early in the morning, when the stalls are just setting up shop. I would stand and stare intently at my favorite hawker stalls, watching the vendors as they prepared their food for the day, so that I could memorize every step of how each dish is cooked. Some of my favorite hawker center dishes include chicken rice,  roti prata, bak ku teh, fried carrot cake, satay, curry fish head and nasi lemak.

Among the myriads of delicacies, noodles have always been a special obsession of mine. There are so many different noodle dishes which you can have for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!  While many of these dishes feature simple ingredients, they are all rich in flavor and texture. Here are some of my favorites:

Laksa - there are two main types of laksa: Curry Laksa and Asam Laksa. Curry Laksa is more common in Singapore and is traditionally made with vermicelli, coconut milk, tau pok (beancurd puffs), fish slices, shrimp and hum (cockles). A variation of it, Katong Laksa, features noodles which have been cut in to short lengths so the dish can be eaten with a spoon.

Hokkien Prawn Mee - fried egg noodles and rice noodles are cooked in a rich prawn stock, usually with cubes of fried pork fat, prawns, fish cake and squid. The key to this dish is the quality of the noodles and the stock, which adds a huge amount of flavor to this dish.

Char Kway Teow - is another signature Singapore noodle dish made with flat rice noodles, stir-fried with egg, pork lard, Chinese sausages and fish cake and a sweet dark sauce.

Wantan Mee - This dish is probably influenced by Cantonese cuisine. Thin wheat noodles are drenched with some light sweet sauce, and eaten with slices of pork char siew and dumplings filled with pork, with a small bowl of soup on the side. You can also get variations of this, such as the wantan mee pictured above which comes with braised beef tendon instead.

Hor Fun - Flat, wide rice noodles are stir-fried with meat or seafood, vegetables and served with a wet gravy, usually made of stock. There are quite a few variations of this dish, depending on what protein and vegetables are served with it.

You may have noticed by now that there are quite a few types of noodles used in Singaporean dishes. Here’s a quick noodle crash course: the most common noodles tend to fall into two categories – wheat or rice noodles. Within each category, the noodles come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Fresh rice noodles are usually made into different shapes in a few steps:

  • Rice is ground into a fine flour. Sometimes a small amount of tapioca starch is added to give more elasticity.

  • It is then mixed with water, to get a white batter.

  • The batter is then extruded or steamed in sheets.

  • The noodles are then dried under the sun or in a dryer, then cut into desired width.

Here are some typical rice noodles and their names:

  • Laksa – long, extruded, spaghetti-shaped

  • Hor fun – wide, steamed flat rice noodles, in pappardelle shape, also called Pad See Ew in Thailand.

  • Ipoh Hor Fun – thinner steamed flat rice noodles, also known as Pad Thai noodles

These are some of my favorite rice noodles, but I had a hard time finding authentic ones in the United States. So I decided to source them myself. Our Laksa, Pad Thai and Pad See Ew noodles are made in Singapore by a third generation noodle manufacturer so you get the most authentic taste and texture.

Are you inspired and intrigued by the food in “Crazy Rich Asians”? You can try your hand at making some Singaporean noodle dishes at home with our noodles. For starters, here is an at-home version laksa recipe, courtesy of Chef Nora Haron, founder of NoraHaron Pop-Up and Restaurant in Oakland, formerly of the beloved Drip Line Oakland.


Chef Nora Haron’s Laksa Recipe

Serves 6-8


Laksa Spice Paste:

  • 2 cups shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 3 inch segment of turmeric root, skinned
  • 2 inch segment of galangal, skinned
  • 1 cup lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 2 cups whole dried red chilies, soaked until softened
  • 1 cup fresh Fresno or Jalapeño chili peppers
  • 1 cup candlenuts or macadamia nuts
  • 4 teaspoons belachan (shrimp paste), toasted

Laksa Broth:

  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1-1/2 to 2 quarts shrimp or chicken stock
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1 batch of Laksa spice paste

    Sambal Sauce (Makes about 2 cups)

    • 1 cup fresh Fresno chili peppers
    • 1 cup dried California chillies, soaked
    • 1/2 cup shallots, peeled and sliced
    • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    • 1 inch segment of ginger, peeled and chopped
    • 1/2 cup lemongrass, finely chopped
    • 2 teaspoons belachan (shrimp paste), toasted
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
    • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil

      Laksa Noodles


      • Grilled Shrimp
      • Soft Boiled Egg or Fried Egg
      • Rau Ram (also known as vietnamese coriander or laksa leaf)
      • Julienned Cucumbers
      • Fried Tofu Puffs
      • Beansprouts
      • Lime segments


        Laksa spice paste:

        • Blend all ingredients to form a smooth paste, adding a bit of water if necessary.

        Laksa broth:

        • In a large pot, heat the oil on medium heat. Sauté Laksa spice paste until fragrant, around 5 minutes.
        • Add stock and bring to a boil. Then add coconut milk, and salt. Bring to a quick boil, stirring continuously. Turn off heat once boiling.

          Sambal sauce:

          • In a food processor, blend all ingredients  (except salt, sugar and oil) to form a smooth paste, adding a bit of water if necessary.
          • Heat oil in a pan at medium heat. Sauté the paste until fragrant for around 5 minutes, stirring continuously until the oil is separated out. Add salt and sugar to taste. Set aside to serve with finished Laksa.

            Laksa Noodles:

            • Each box of Nona Lim Laksa Noodles contains two pouches of noodles. For each pouch, tear a notch in the plastic pouch to vent, then microwave about 2 minutes.
            • Carefully remove noodles from pouch and place in a bowl.


              • Ladle laksa broth over noodles in bowl, add garnishes, and serve with sambal sauce on the side.