A Noodle Story (超好面)

Official Website: http://anoodlestory.com/http://www.facebook.com/ANoodleStory
Address: Amoy Street Food Centre, 7 Maxwell Road, #01-39, S(069111)
Tel: 9027 6289
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday, 10am – 7.30pm (Closed between 230pm-330pm)
Budget: $5-$7
Recommendation: Singapore-style Ramen

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Where else can you find value-for-money yet tasty noodles?

Touted to be “the first & only Singapore-style ramen”, A Noodle Story is a budding enterprise that opened its doors in February 2013. It was started by two Shatec classmates, Gwern Khoo and Ben Tham, who have worked in some of the best restaurants around the world: Iggy’sWaku Ghin and Restaurant Andre. The duo chefs have one aim: to bring gourmet quality noodles to the masses at affordable and competitive prices, aka value for money. There is only one ultimate dish here, the Singapore-style ramen, priced at $5, $6 and $7. You might be wondering why a stall would only serve a single dish. The answer is simple (and consistent with the Apple philosophy) – keep it simple and do it good. In fact, the stall just next to Noodle Story also only serves 2 dishes (Horfun and Fried Rice) but remains widely popular.

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TZE Singapore-style Ramen ($6)

Essentially, this is truly a Singaporean dish – an interesting international fusion of local, Hong-Kong, Japanese and Western influences. Think of a multi-racial HDB party where everyone comes together to play. My usual habit of starting a meal is to begin with the soup, because it not only cleanses your palette for the meal, but also fills your stomach with fluids so that you would not overeat. According to Asia City, the soup broth comprised dried shrimps and Japanese kelp, but to be honest, it tasted very much like the usual wanton mee soup. Despite having a richer flavour, it did not leave me thirsty after the meal. So first, the soup did not disappoint.

Next, lets talk about the star of attraction – the ultimate Singapore-style ramen. The egg noodles were springy and al dente, so the chefs have indeed lived up to their claim of serving springy and non-soggy noodles. This was achieved by soaking the hot noodles in cold water immediately (and sometimes repeatedly), so that the drastic change in temperature maintained the springy texture of the egg noodles. So far, only one other hawker stall in Singapore serves such superb noodles: 山仔顶基记面家(Ji Ji Wanton Noodle Specialist, which serves the best wanton mee in Singapore, in my humble opinion). The egg noodles were soaked in a special dressing and topped with freshly sliced scallions and Japanese red pepper. The sambal chili was placed by the side so that both chili and non-chili lovers can mix the seasoning to suit their own preferences. Very thoughtful indeed!

Now for the sides: there’s the Hong Kong style prawn wantonssoy-flavoured onsen or hot spring egg2-3 slices of char-siu and a crispy potato-wrapped prawn. The wantons were definitely on par with any top-notch wanton noodle stall in Singapore. The prawn was succulent and very refreshing, while the wanton skin was not too soggy. Although the onsen egg may not look aesthetically appealing, it was definitely ‘palette-pleasing’. The yolk was semi-cooked and semi-runny, just like the usual onsen eggs served in ramen restaurants. The crispy potato-wrapped prawn was a novelty to me. The potato strands were fried and tasted like rosti, while the prawn remained firm and savoury. Looks like a happy marriage between Japanese tempura style and western influences.

I’m ambivalent about the sous vide char-siu though. Like our fellow blogger, I would have liked the char-siu to be truly “meltingly-tender”, i.e. melts in the mouth. However, the char-siu was firmer than I had wanted it to be. The texture and rigidity tasted more like Chinese char-siu (but without the sweet marinate), while I had expected it to be smooth and tender like Japanese char-siu which has been broiled for more than 20 hours. The good news is, the duo chefs are still experimenting and hence are very willing to listen to feedback.

If the ultimate dish leaves you wanting for more, you can order the side dishes at $3 each, for extra serving(s) of indulgence you probably wouldn’t find elsewhere.

Verdict

Its name “Singapore-style ramen” definitely sounds like a mouthful, and I would prefer to call it 超好面 or supergood. (How about calling it ho jiak mee?) However, the duo chefs’ creative innovation deserves praise and reminds me of the early days of Saveur at Ali Baba eating house. Look at how much Saveur has grown and you would agree with me that the young chefs at Noodle Story deserve our support. Most importantly, their dish packs value, quality and novelty into one ultimate package. You probably would not get tasty noodles with 4 yummy sides and a tasty soup at this price elsewhere. If you work around Amoy Street, do drop by to enjoy this local dish. Service wise, I queued for about 20min and Ben was very apologetic for making me wait so long, because the person in front of me had about 5-6 bowls for take-away. So if you’re rushing for time, drop by at about 1.45pm, when the lunch hour crowd disperses. If Dr Leslie Tay is going to publish another book on hawker food, I think Noodle Story deserves a page on their own.

Rating: 4.1/5 Ho Jiak Mee

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Picture of friendly Ben

 

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