My Wanton Mee Fixations
A couple of years ago, I blogged about wanton mee and gave a totally nonsensical and fictitious guide about what makes a good wanton mee.
Then I raved about the Tiong Bahru Armpit Wanton Mee.
A few months ago, I attempted to find a connection between wanton mee and why Aljunied voted the opposition.
So you see I have no life and talk too much about wanton mee
But amidst the madness and tomfoolery, there is sanity and a purpose.
I always tell anyone who would listen that before you turn into a hissy 50 year old with curlers in your hair and start screeching about why everyone is stupid and your stall is the best, you must understand the different biases and likes before you start comparing.
You need to compare kumquats with kumquats aunty.
Put down that cleaver.
The Different Types
Before you compare wanton mee stalls wantonly, you first need to decide on the type you like.
The Old School Style
This category sees a sauce which consists of an old school reddish slightly tangy chilli sauce. In the sauce will usually be the quintessential pork lard croutons with a little lard oil.
This is what I like about this style. Old school taste with a rich lard and chilli concoction.
Granted the texture of the noodles vary from stall to stall and may not always be their forte.
The unfortunate feature in this old school style is that quite often, it comes with really dry char siew, sometimes a pale red achieved through red colouring.
In the most extreme scenario, the char siew tastes like cupboard.
In this category I will put stalls like Eng’s Wanton Mee, 6th Avenue wanton mee, Hollywood canteen ZhengGuang wanton mee, National Library Nam Seng wanton mee (now permanently closed) etc.
On the other hand, there are some limited stalls of this type of old school wanton mee that produces very decent char siew.
Invariably, this select few stalls will turn out to be my favourites such as Geylang Koung’s Wanton Mee, Jalan Batu Kim Kee Tanjong Rhu Wanton Mee, Keong Saik Foong Kee Coffeeshop Wanton Mee, etc,
The Hong Kong style
This is not my favourite style.
So even though there are very decent stalls around, I find it difficult to get excited by this style.
The Hongkong style usually boasts of very thin springy noodles and are usually cooked really well, airy and springy, by the Cantonese Sifus.
But you must like the really thin wanton mee. Quite a lot of people like me prefer the thicker ones with a bit more bite.
The sauce is usually a brown sauce made predominantly with oyster sauce, sesame and soy. Quite often without pork lard and chilli is not mixed in but on the side.
It’s meant to be delicate tasting so they don’t want chilli to interfere with the sauce.
They don’t always focus on the char siew so the char siew tends to be average.
Wantons and dumplings tend to be their focus and usually of a high standard.
Stalls like Toa Payoh Chef Kang wanton noodles, Empress Place Ah Wing’s Wanton Mee, Wong Kee Wanton Mee all fall into this category.
The Magic Elixir
I put three stalls into this category – Foch Road Kok Kee Wanton mee, Tiong Bahru Armpit Zhong Yu Yuan Wei wanton mee, and the latest new kid on the block Golden Mile Wen Kang Ji wanton mee.
Those of you who grew up with Kok Kee will rave about the delicious pale sauce they trickle over your wanton mee – a pale golden liquid which doesn’t seem much but takes you into heaven.
When I tried the Tiong Bahru stall, I proclaimed their sauce to be so delicious that I ate it without any chilli because I didn’t want it to interfere with the magic elixir.
Everyone raves about their armpit char siew which indeed was Uber delicious. But that sauce kept me awake at night.
What goes into that sauce to make it so magical? I think it is lard oil for sure which makes it wicked and out of this world. There would probably be soy and other condiments but lard oil would be my best guess.
Kok Kee Wanton Noodle
I went to Kok Kee last night as I wanted to update myself for this blog.
I don’t think it is the same as it’s heyday. The whole ensemble looks messy, the chilli and char siew was non descript for me.
The noodles were a little soggy and were forgettable.
But the succulent wantons saved the day and of course that famous sauce is the reason why I would eat there.
That stall now belongs to the Jumbo Group and they have plans to franchise it. Let’s hope they keep up the standard and to never lose that sauce.
Wen Kang Ji Wanton Noodles
This new stall has been generating a lot of excitement recently.
When I came 30 mins before the stall’s opening time, people were already snapping pictures and waiting for them.
This queue formed in one minute the moment they signalled that they are starting operations.
And in 1 minute it was 10 men strong.
We got our food.
Optically it looked delicious.
Fat succulent looking wantons. Arm pit cut for the char siew with nice charred edges.
And that golden liquid below.
I was struck with how similar it looked compared to the Tiong Bahru stall.
The Char Siew at Wen Kang Ji were delicious although Tiong Bahru had a slight edge as their Char Siew was a little fattier and thus of a more luscious texture.
But very close.
Check out this golden sauce nestling at the bottom of my wanton mee at Wen Kang Ji.
At least on par with Kok Kee I think, but probably Tiong Bahru has a richer, more magical Elixir.
Wantons and dumplings were delicious and noodles were good too with a nice bite.
The only problem with Wen Kang Ji was their soup.
Not much of any other taste but it tasted like someone has accidentally dropped a bottle of white pepper into the soup, cursed and retrieved it and dropped it in a second time.
The pepper in that soup could make you sterile and balding.
They really need to do something about that soup.
Right now, my top three personal favourite for Wanton Mee may well be Koung’s, Tiong Bahru and the latest Wen Kang Ji.
Wen Kang Ji Wanton mee
505 Beach Road, Golden Mile Food Centre, #B1- 29, Singapore
Hours: 10am- 7pm