The Singaporean debate over which and what and where hawker stall woks up the best rendition of this and that of our heritage dishes is endless, but there is only one Eng’s wanton mee. Talk about eating local – when the Cantonese mess of egg noodles piled over dumplings and topped with char siew (barbecued pork) trundled in on a cart in Joo Chiat in the 1950s, peddler Panjang had to create a flaming chili sauce for condiment. That’s because the Peranakan enclave's uncompromised and relentless spice obsession is matched only by the fiery personality of the hot-blooded Malay-Chinese ethnicity. Anything less than ringing AC/DC-level decibels on the palate wouldn't be good enough – and still isn’t. In the 1960s, Panjang’s son Ah Eng took over the business and today, the legacy lives on a few blocks away on Tanjong Katong Road. Now a full-fledged coffee shop, a self-serve counter entices (challenges?) you to glorify your already red hot wanton mee (a squirt bottle of the potent stuff resides on every table, labeled “Beware of Super HOT Chilli”) with green chilis and as much pork crackling as your cardiologist should not be aware of. The handmade noodles have a cheerful spring in every slurp, the char siew thinly sliced but not tepid, the silky dumpling skin melting away to well-seasoned ground pork, and Chinese spinach to ease the conscience (necessary if you have fried wantons on the side). Here in the distinctively eclectic East Coast, we always like to do things our own way.
By Desiree Koh
287 Tanjong Katong Road, Singapore 437036
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