When this bowl of prawn noodles was placed in front of me a couple of days ago, I was mesmerized by the color of the broth. Just look at that intense opaque yellow!
"Hae mee" (hokkien for prawn noodles) can be commonly found all over Singapore in hawker centres, coffee-shops and sometimes, even in hotel restaurants but just because you can order a bowl easily, it doesn't mean that each bowl is capable of granting satisfaction. A bowl will usually comprise thick yellow egg noodles, sometimes with thin rice noodles (beehoon), a couple of cooked prawns, sometimes with added pork ribs, a few obligatory kangkong (convolvulus) leaves, topped with fried shallots but for me, all these are merely peripheral to the soup in which they are served. The prawn stock is usually made from fried prawn shells slowly simmered for hours in either water or sometimes, stock to which pork bones are added. And just as there are as many cooks, there are as many different variations of that prawn stock. If unlucky, you may end up with a bowl of prawn noodles soup that is downright bland with the merest hint of prawns but if you've ever tasted that bowl of prawn noodles which is fragrant and rich bursting with seafood sweetness that can only come from these 'prawny' crustaceans, you will understand why Singaporeans queue patiently for their favourite prawn noodles at hawker centres.
This particular bowl definitely scored high for its prawn stock, and frustratingly, I am clueless as to the additional ingredient(s) they've added to the stock to create such wonderfully murky, strongly colored, rich and fragrant stock (most prawn noodles in town, even some really good ones are generally more earthy brown and much less murky). Plus I didn't taste any ajinomoto in this stock. The halved prawns were large, fresh and sweet. Ordering the prawn with pork rib noodles, I was pleasantly surprised by the really tender pork ribs which had been braised in soya sauce (and not the usual pale-colored cooked pork ribs). This is one bowl where you will be sorely tempted to finish up to the very last drop.
At this same coffee-shop, I also found a most satisfying plate of charsiew wonton noodles. Again, this dish is commonly found in almost all hawker centres across Singapore, yet very few hawkers here make it the way I remember it back in Malaysia. When dining on this dish, the springy texture of the noodle is important and for me, the quality of the thick black soya sauce that is the base for the delicious sauce covering the noodles is paramount. A lot of hawkers over here generally mask the flavors of the black sauce that they use (could it be that it's inferior in taste?) with copious amounts of either the cooked chilli paste or some form of tomato sauce or sweet red taucheo sauce (which gave me a horrific food-culture shock more than 10 years ago when I first stepped onto this fair isle and ordered my first Singapore plate of wonton noodles).
This particular plate of noodles came well mixed in a very slurp-worthy black sauce mixture, no tomato sauce (thank goodness) and with chilli paste served separately in a little container (only if you wish to add some spiciness to the noodles).
And if you're a local football fan, you will already know where this coffee-shop is. I forget the name of the coffee-shop but the hawker-stall selling these noodles has the main frontage of this coffee-shop and goes by the name of "ren ren ta xia mian" (loosely translated as 'people's big prawn noodle
'), and the coffee-shop is at the corner of Jalan Besar and Allenby Road, the very corner you turn in from Jalan Besar if you're going to support your local football team at Jalan Besar Stadium.
By the way, the 'hae-cho' (prawn roll) served by the same hawker-stall is also not too bad.