There are two kinds of people when it comes to Wanton Mee. There are those who consider the whole dish as a package, so a good plate of Wanton Mee means the sauce, the charsiew, the wanton and the noodles all have to be good. Then there are those who focus just solely on the noodles.
I used to be the former. Now I am both.
In Singapore, where virtually all the egg noodles have been procured from factories, it is very difficult to appreciate a good egg noodle. In the past, some hawkers such as Fei Fei used to make their own noodles and it is the quality and taste of their noodles that set them apart. Most wanton mee stalls nowadays buy theirs from factories. There are of course different grades of egg noodles that you can buy and some stalls pride themselves for buying a better grade noodle. Some even have their noodles specifically made to an old family recipe. But it is not the same as having the noodles made in the restaurant itself where the emphasis is on producing a fragrant egg noodle that can be eaten on its own.
Kneading the Dough with Bamboo Machine
Nowadays, we are seeing La Mien being made on the spot and so the humble noodle is back in the spotlight again. In Japan, there are restaurants who also make Soba noodles on the spot and the Japanese, in true Zen tradition, focus their attention solely on the noodles. In Singapore, our humble mee kia has always been taken for granted but I am glad to say that that is about to change.
The house of Bamboo Noodles was started because the owners loved the taste of these noodles while travelling in Guangzhou and just could not find the same stuff in Singapore. These noodles are essentially the egg noodles that we are all familiar with, except that they are made using a bamboo pole to knead the dough. Traditionally, this meant that the noodle maker would have to sit astride the bamboo pole and use his weight to apply force onto the the dough. But our friends from the restaurants decided to design a machine to do the job instead. This is good because I think some people (especially those from the NEA) might object to the fact that the bamboo was in contact with someone’s bum.I got to handle some of the raw noodles and I must say I found it rather therapeutic. The freshly made noodles had a rather fragrant aroma and because of the kneading process, they were made without the addition of “Kee” (alkali). The noodles were delicate and springy and when you release them, they would slowly retract to their original state. You should try playing with a ball of uncooked noodles so you can appreciate the fragrance and texture of it.
The Wanton noodles are usually served Hong Kong style, with a black soy based sauce. But I requested mine to be served plain, just tossed in a bit of oil because I wanted to focus my senses on just the texture and fragrance of the noodles itself. I found the texture of the noodles to be excellent. It was light and springy and firm to the bite without being too stringy. It is one of the best egg noodle I have tasted so far. 4.5/5 The normal sauce which they use for the wanton mee still needs more work so if you order a normal plate of Wanton mee, it might taste like just another plate of wanton mee which you can get anywhere.
My favourite version of fried egg noodles is what is commonly known as “Hong Kong Mee” at our Cze Char stalls. I was very impressed when the Hong Kong Mee was presented because the fragrance of the Wok Hei and the egg noodles was so strong I could smell it when I was taking the photos. If you enjoy Hong Kong Mee, this is a must try. I suggested to Amy that if crab meat could be added to the noodles, it would be even more delectable. 4.5/5
Specialty Tobiko Fried Dumpling $4
The stallowners are quite adventurous in experimenting with food, so you sometimes get a fusion of Japanese and Chinese cuisine like their wanton which has Tobiko (Flying Fish Roe) in it. I like the wantons, which I thought were substantial and quite tasty, but the Tobiko doesn’t add any value for me. 3.75/5
I also quite like the Spinach soup which is quite similar to a Shark’s Fin or Fish Maw Soup. Amagada didn’t think much of it though. Like Shark’s Fin soup, it is thick and sticky and taken with a dash of black vinegar 4/5
The surprise item of the day has to be the deep fried golden mushrooms. Surprise, because even the kids who usually shun mushrooms managed to finish the whole plate. It is great as a garnish for the plain noodles as the crispiness adds a nice contrast to the chewy noodles. 4.25/5
This is actually my 2nd visit to Tai Shek Hai. When I first visited just prior to their official opening in September, I felt that the food was not good enough to blog, since then, they have really improved on the noodles and managed to come up with a few dishes which are really quite good. The fact that they painstakingly make their own noodles is a good thing and I hope to see more eateries doing the same and refocussing our attention back to the humble mee kia which is actually quite tasty on its own when it is done right.
They do sell their noodles raw as well. I cooked some of the noodles myself at home and it is faster to cook than instant noodles. Just rinse the flour from the noodles and put them in boiling water and count to 15 slowly. Then strain the noodles and they are ready to eat. I just added some shallot oil, Goma Sauce and Pork Floss and it was marvellecious. If you have some Hae Bee Hiam, that would work too!