I believe that food like good music and a good book is a solace to a person's soul. Food is both a science and an art - a yin-yang balance to your body and also an appreciation of colors, textures and sensory experience.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Battle of the Wanton Mee Noodles at the Lion City

In Singapore, wonton noodles is generally spelt as wanton which means something very different in the English dictionary. I suspect that wanton mee is a Hokkien (a Chinese dialect) derivative. But I can't be sure.

One of my favourite hawker food in Singapore is wanton noodles. So, the first place I ate straight after arriving from the airport is Eng's noodle house at Tanjong Katong Road. This store has an illustrious history. 3 generations have already eaten at this place - My grandparents, my parents and my generation. And so have many who lived near the Katong, Joo Chiat and East Coast area.

Eng's have moved to a spanking new place at Tanjong Katong Road. You used to be able to pay for SIN$2.50 or CAN$2 dollars for a bowl of noodles but now, the price has increased to about SIN $4 or CAN$3 which to me, is still very reasonable. Uncle Eng told us the main reason for the increase in price was his monthly rental, which is now around a 5 figure range. Crazy but a true state of reality in urban Singapore. But at least, he has his own outlet - the place is cooler and he has a bigger pool of staff to help him.

Eng's story started in the 1950s. His father, nicknamed Panjang which means tall in Malay started selling wanton mee in a push cart. I can't take a picture of his entire storyboard at his new place but here are some extracts.

Eng's dad - with copy of his first hawker licence issued by the City Council of Singapore

The young Uncle Eng
Finally, the moment I was waiting for - the wanton noodles. Eng's noodles is famous for his spicy chilli. In the past, he will put it as part of your noodles but now its served separately so customers have control on the amount of chilli.

The char siew is sliced quite thinly but the entire combination is heavenly

Close up of the wanton.
Uncle Eng's mother used to make the noodles when she was alive. Delicious!

Over the next few weeks, I ate wanton mee at least another 3 times. For breakfast, I had wonton mee at Haig Road market. This wanton mee store was there for years at some old canteen called Hollywood - why Hollywood? All because the canteen was located near a cinema. A nostalgic walk down to memory lane for me. My granny used to buy for me their wanton noodles every weekend.

Wanton mee cooked in a different way - more of the brown soya sauce effect rather than chilli

The noodles have a slightly more wet effect than Eng's
Gator's mandatory bowl of wanton - I ate everything up :)
Finally, Cho Kee Noodles at Old Airport Road. A family friend ordered this for me with no char siew. I much prefer having the char siew in my wonton noodles

The wanton here is pretty smooth

The chili here is so-so. Its a bit wetter version
The verdict - Eng's wanton mee is still my favourite choice after all these years. When my dad was alive, it was his favourite too. It was our favourite hang-out place at a humid and hot hawker centre, sitting down, eating our noodles and chatting. One of the simple pleasures of life.

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