The last time I had this wanton noodle was in late 2019.
I had eaten at Chef Kang’ prawn noodle eatery also in Toa Payoh before strolling over to his wanton mee stall which is set in an idyllic industrial estate canteen.
I told myself that I will need to revisit the wanton mee stall as I reviewed it after having some food fatigue as I had the prawn mee earlier.
You will see that my comments on the wanton mee were rather cursory as all the blood had rushed to feed my food comatose , and I could hardly remember my mother’s name, let alone share culinary insights
So my second visit was more than a year later, after I have gone round wantonly eating wanton mee at different locations for one year.
I do like the location of his wanton mee place as parking is easy to find as there are ample lots all around as you turn into Jackson Square, which houses a few blocks of industrial office buildings.
My first thought when I approached the canteen was the same welcoming impression I had the first time – a little old school nostalgic and peaceful.
I am here at almost 10 am on a Saturday morning and the whole place was cool as a cucumber with stylish shades 😎.
A gentle breeze wafted agreeably around the sitting area while trees rustled nearby, giving help to 8 industrial fans mounted on the ceilings.
Happily when I arrived, I was third in the queue so I got my food in no time.
I noticed the whole time I was there that the queue was constant but ebbed and flowed lazily and it moved quite fast. So expect an acceptable wait of 10-20 mins to get your food.
They had moved the pricing from $5 for a standard bowl in 2019 to $6 today.
You’ll be forgiven for thinking that it was a little expensive at that price, and the portions don’t look like it could feed an oversized hippo like me with muscles threatening to break out at any time (since the 80s)
But trust me, I was quite full after consuming that standard bowl.
And the pricing really wasn’t too bad considering that the chunks of Char siew were generous and sliced quite moderate to thick so you have a good mouthful.
And you need to fish out the two wantons that had sunk to the bottom of that milky soup to realise that they were ample and succulent.
Many of us have very specific likes and dislikes in the style of our noodles. And we tend to start assessing a particular dish we are eating with our biases unchecked unwittingly, and start saying that particular stall’s offering is good, average or compelling really because of such biases.
So straight out I’m going to say that Chef Kang’s style is more akin to what I term as the “HongKong Style” – light thin airy noodles, sauce is usually a dark sauce with some sesame oil glazing, chilli is usually a savoury sort given on the side and not mixed in.
I usually prefer the “Singapore Style “ sort for want of a better word – noodles are usually slightly thicker and more dense and even a little slippery. The chilli base is more old school, a little savoury sometimes with a hint of ketchup or vinegar mixed throughly into the noodles.
Lard of course is added to help lift the orgasmic Richter scale.
So I reminded myself not to be influenced by the fact that Chef Kang’s offerings is clearly of the former option, and I should not be biased by, or looking for the style I like.
The noodles were very well done – al dente, springy and not over cooked. It has a nice bite throughout.
Those who like their noodles drowned in a haunted well or who need help chomping with motorised dentures should be warned.
The sauce to me was the only fly in the ointment so to speak (just a figure of speech there were no flies around I assure you).
It wasn’t bad mind you – it was robust and perhaps a tad salty for my liking but I found it a little one dimensional.
It didn’t rock my world.
Chilli was adequate but didn’t make sweet love to me.
It was United Nations.
Status Quo, neither here nor there, does its job but not heroic, provides support but not flair.
Too neutral, needs funding, lacks focus.
The Char Siew
The char siew was above average.
It had a nice lean meat/fat mixed quotient and I would say they were delicious.
Well delicious enough.
But I wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night, think about it and cry myself to sleep with Journey’s Faithfully playing, like I would over the Tiong Bahru Armpit char siew.
Wantons were near perfect – nice juicy and succulent. It didn’t taste like it had Ti Poh (crispy flat fish) mixed with the minced pork which adds quite a zing.
This would have moved it to a different level.
The soup was better than most places, some of whom think accidentally tossing in a few anchovies to some water constitutes stock.
Chef Kang obviously boiled their stock with probably chicken bones giving it a milky texture.
Would I Tic Tock?
So overall ?
A more than decent bowl of wanton mee and I am sure a lot of people would proclaim it near restaurant quality, and do the Mexican Wave.
I was suitably impressed.
I wouldn’t bear additional children with Chef Kang’s Wanton Mee or after eating, change into leotards and do a Tic Tok of Beyoncé’s Single Ladies in front of the stall.
But I would eat it happily whenever I am in the vicinity of beautiful, languid and nostalgic Toa Payoh.