In Hokkien, this is called the "Kan Chia Mee" which means the "pull-vehicle-noodles" or in Chinese La Che Mian 拉车面.
This is a very simple noodle soup prepared and served where ordered (not the usual cook upon order noodles) and hence has thicker gravy and a more tangy taste because of the contents of the yellow noodles.
I suppose it must have been the cheap and easy to eat meal for the rickshaw pullers in the old days. When I asked the lady of this stall at Maxwell Market Food Centre (I wonder if this could well be the only heritage foodstall selling a dish of this kind) how long her stall has been operating. She answered, "60+ years", and without much of a pause, "since 1943". As there was a steady (not heavy) flow of customers, I could not engage her with more questions. She is also selling the mee-sua, another Hokkien cuisine. And I was told that her fried beehoon (rice vermicelli) is very good. There are also other typical southern Chinese breakfast food such as the yam-cake.
I guess, in the 40s, a bowl of the kan-chia-mee must have costed less than 5 cents. (^^). In the 50s, it was in that range. I heard from wife that in the 80s, it was 50 cents a bowl (from this stall) and when I tried it yesterday, it was 80 cents. Not much but good to keep the tummy from growling.
I know that in some temples, where there is an event, the kan-chia-mee is still one of the dishes being served. For convenience, it could be cooked in a big pot and served throughout the day. For many of the older folks, it was a nostalgic trip and they ate with relish.
In Maxwell Market Food Centre, there are many foodstalls that started life in the old Hokkien part of Chinatown. This Kan-Chia-Mee stall was from China Street. During the urban renewal, many of the foodstall in the Hokkien part of Chinatown - China St, Nanjing St and Kiao-Keng-Kao (Outside the Gambler's Den as translated literally) moved to this vegetable market turned food centre. As part of its continuity, (in the old days, there were hardly any names for any of these stalls), the signage at Maxwell Market Food Centre would indicate that that particular stall was from China St or Nanking St. You can do a food heritage journey through these stalls here.
Would the kan-chia-mee be one of the soon-to-be-disappeared food? Like the rickshaw pullers? (^^) Take a look, take a taste ... and get the taste of the lives that some of our forefathers have gone through.
Thanks to James Seah for the lead and National Archives Singapore (NAS), here is a better image of what a kan-chia or rickshaw puller is like.