Wanton mee @ Shan ji wanton mee
Wanton mee is another fascinating Singaporean (originally a Cantonese dish) hawker dish I’m currently obsessed with. Interestingly, for all the popularity of this dish around the south east asian region, I never saw once came across it in Australia - wontons in soup was probably the most similar.
Whenever I come across a new restaurant I always like to try a standard meal in order see how well they make it, using the hypothesis that if you cannot make the standard dish well, how will you fare with the more difficult recipes? For a pizzeria, this standard dish is a margherita pizza. For a burger joint, its the humble cheeseburger. For an Indian restaurant its either naan or prata. You get my point. Well, whenever I come to a new coffee shop or hawker centre, I always want to first try the wanton mee - rightly or wrongly it sets the standard for the rest of the shop in my mind.
Wanton mee is both unpretentious and versatile, it can be eaten any time of the day from breakfast to post-drinking supper. so much so there are famous 24 hour eateries. I have only ever eaten the dry version that at its core, consists of fresh boiled noodles, tossed in black sauce with chilli, served with a side of char siew, a smattering of green chinese vegetables, and a small bowl of soup containing several boiled pork wontons. Despite the seemingly simple nature of this recipe, somehow every wanton mee I taste is slightly different in flavour and texture. This variation creates great loyalty to the hawker which best suits your taste.
This leads me to the wanton mee at shan ji wanton mee, located at the Frankel Avenue coffee shop - Kwee Sai Fong. The stall is run by one aunty, who gives off the vibe she has been running this stall for decades, and could cook wanton mee with a blindfold. She gets there early to start the food prep and stays open until she starts running out of ingredients, not long after the lunch rush. She takes the order with an infectious smile and attitude (even if we have a language barrier), adding to the joy of the dish - calling out across the coffee shop when it is ready to collect.
As you know, the first time you taste a dish its engrained in your memory forever. Therefore, this particular wanton mee will always be special, as it was the first one I ever tried. Her noodles are delicious with a decent QQ, despite the relatively thinness of the mee. The aunty is generous with the amount of noodles for the price also and if you up size for $1, she is even more generous. The other star of the dish is her handmade wontons, which have a nice silky wrapper that leaves you craving for more. The chilli sauce is homemade with a decent level of hiam without being overpowering. I prefer my wanton mee to be a mix of black and chilli sauces, to really coat the noodles in flavour and reduce the power of the chilli. The char siew is decent, but it is not the highlight of the dish. While it is probably not a wanton mee I would travel across the island to try, for me it has become one of my go to comfort dishes in Singapore.
Coffee shop: Kwee Sai Fong Eating House
Address: 65 Frankel Ave, Siglap
Hours: 7:30am - 2:30pm (Closed wednesdays)