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Oct 31, 2010 11:33 PM

Singapore - Best Wanton Noodles

After a 3-week search for the best wanton noodles in Singapore – I’m restricting this post to Singapore-style wanton noodles, the sort slathered with chilli paste & topped with boiled(?) char-siu tinted red (instead of genuine HK-style roasted char-siu) which is de riguer in Singapore traditionally. Of course, HK-style wanton noodles are also widely available in Singapore these days, but they are a wholly different dish/category altogether and won't be covered here. Back to Singapore-style wanton noodles, here are, IMHO, the top 3 (each have their supporters & detractors, but all have withstood the test of time and had been around 30-40 years):

#1 Hua Kee Hougang Famous Wan Ton Noodles @ Old Airport Road Food Centre: Noodle texture was perfect! The lard-based dressing/sauce used was out of this world! Generous scattering char-siu (the local poached then tinted-red variety, not roasted HK-style) and poached wanton dumplings. Chilli paste used was not scald-your-tongue spicy, but piquant and complemented the whole dish perfectly. Queues are long (30 minutes during peak meal-times) and the middle-aged lady at the serving counter can be called the Wanton Noodle Nazi: scowling & barking at customers. But we’ll endure her for the sake of the wonderful noodles.

#2 Kok Kee Wanton Noodles @ Lavender Square: The noodles had the perfect texture – somewhere between al dente and soft (the way local palates liked it). The char-siu (also poached/red-tinted) was a bit anaemic. Poached wanton dumplings, whilst not exceptional on their own, complemented the whole dish. The chilli paste used was very spicy! Waiting time at peak meal-times: 45 minutes.

#3 Fei Fei at Joo Chiat Place: This phenomenally popular wanton noodle place was favored by many Who’s Who in Singapore, and waiting time during peak meal-times can be killing: 45 minutes. The noodles have that sticky, chewy freshly-made texture. Char-siu slices were dry & a bit bland. The chilli paste was burn-your-mouth ultra-spicy (!!!) – the way Singaporeans love it.

Singapore-style wanton noodles are spicy, greasy, brash & in-your-face, and may lack the subtlety and finesse of HK-style wanton noodles (with its perfectly al dente texture & carefully-balanced soup stock). But that's what Singaporeans look for when they turn to one of their favorite comfort foods.
Address/Opening Hours below (Note: hawkers in Singapore are notorious for changing their opening times without prior notice, so take these as a rough guide)

Hua Kee Hougang Famous Wan Ton Mee
51 Old Airport Road
#01-113B Old Airport Road Food Centre
Opening hours: Tue–Sun 12 noon – 3pm, 5.30pm – midnight.

Kok Kee Wanton Noodle
380 Jalan Besar
#01-06 Lavender Food Square
Opening hours: 12.30pm – 12 midnight (closed Wed & Thu every 3 weeks – good luck!)

Fei Fei Wan Tan Mee
62 Joo Chiat Place
Tel: 6345 7515
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 6.45am – 10pm, Sun 6.45pm – 9pm.

Photos show the wanton noodles offered by Hua Kee, Kok Kee & Fei Fei respectively.

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  1. klyeoh - I'd like to add another entrant to your list: Parklane Zha Yun Tun Mee House at Sunshine Plaza, Dhoby Ghaut. Their wantans are deep-fried, the way I like them.

    2 Replies
    1. re: M_Gomez

      Another place which slipped my mind - Cho Kee at Old Airport Road. Have you tried it? Don't be fooled by the fact that they don't have a queue in front. You're given a number and when your order is ready - which can take a looooooong time, your number will be called.

      1. re: M_Gomez

        So THAT's the place which has a number-queuing system. I'd been asked by some office colleagues if Hua Kee or Kok Kee was "that famous wanton noodle place with a number queuing system", which they were not.
        I'll need to go back to Old Airport Rd Food Centre again, for Cho Kee this time!

    2. If chili paste is used, I guess, unlike HK's version, not much attention is given to the broth?! Right? Just regular soya sauce base?
      Because of the more delicate nature of the HK version, the broth is often regarded as the soul of the 'holy trinity' - noodle, won-ton, broth. IMO, its as important as how the rice is cooked and seasoned in Japanese sushi.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Charles Yu

        Charles, you're right on the lack of subtlety in the broth here - Singapore's wanton noodles are also served in soup form, but it's more of a "peasant dish", and the soup broth is often a very simple, clear pork-based broth (liberally boosted with MSG). No such finesse such as that which HKers accord to their won-ton noodles' broth.

        The texture of Singapore wanton noodles are more akin to the ones found in Kuala Lumpur (south-Central Malaysia) wanton noodles - softer and more like la mian; whereas HK wanton noodle texture has a more "al dente" bite to it, similar to the chewy wanton noodle texture from Penang (northern Malaysia).

        I'll need to start a new thread on wanton noodles in Malaysia - which is interesting because although you have different noodle textures from Penang & Kedah in the north, to Ipoh in the centre of Malaysia, and then Kuala Lumpur, and finally Johore in the deep South, Malaysian wanton noodles inadvertently use a combination of dark & light soysauces, sesame oil, oyster sauce & lard to dress their dry ("kon-low") version of wanton noodles - no chilli paste or tomato sauce (such as those used in Singapore). But Malaysian wanton noodles which come in soup form are similar to their Singapore counrerparts, and not the same as Hong Kong's at all.

        1. re: klyeoh

          Ah! Lard!! IMO, this is the last essential ingredient to create THE perfect 'HK wonton Noodle'! The associated aroma gives the whole picture the final touch! Unfortunately, in this health conscious society, one seldom find this 'closure dressing' used anymore! Sigh!

        2. re: Charles Yu

          Charles, comparing HK wanton noodles to Singapore wanton noodles is like comparing Dame Kiri Te Kanawa to Lady Gaga! One is so refined, the other so crass. But both are very good. Ha-ha!

          1. re: M_Gomez

            Hello Martha!
            Cool! Using my favourite Operatic Diva to describe my favourite style of won-ton noodle! May be one day someone can fused the two divas and come up with a ' Celine Dion' version?! Ha!!

            1. re: Charles Yu

              Interesting thought, Charles. Wonder what happens if I bring along a jar of super-spicy Singapore sambal chilli paste on my next trip to HK, and pour it on my bowl of wanton noodles at Mak Aun Kee? You think they might throw me out of their shop? :-D


              1. re: klyeoh

                My friend! I'll throw you out the shop myself!! Ha!!

                  1. re: klyeoh

                    Good day klyeoh!
                    On the same theme, but even better!! Next March, if ex-chowhounder Sherman is going to arrange another chowmeet for the group at Caprice. I wonder how the 3* chef would react if we all ask for 'ketchup'!!??!! Ha!!

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      In France, a chef would be insulted even if you'd asked for salt. Hasn't Sherman moved on to Robuchon a Galera in Macau?

                      We can have Chowmeets at good wanton noodle joints, too, by the way. Mak Aun Kee at Wellington St seemed pretty clean these days - back in the 90s, they have basins filled with dirty dishes & water right by your feet, as you share a table 2-feet in diameter with 5 other people (none of whom knew each other) slurping their noodles.

                      1. re: klyeoh

                        Wow! You are up early?!!
                        Mak's at Wellington! My favourite wonton place! In fact my nephew loved it so much, he once ate 4 bowls in one sitting! Nice to be young! Ha!!
                        FYI, they opened up another outpost next to Mak Man Kee in Jordan. My brother-in-law who tried it last week told me - 'Quality was totally different'!! Big disappointment!
                        As for Sherman, I don't know?!! I thought she decided to stay at Caprice? She's staging at the French Laundry right now? Amazing isn't it? Only 24 and already worked at L'Atelier Robuchon, Caprice, Per Se and now French Laundry!

        3. Wantan Mee is my all-time favorite singaporean food! It's the first thing I eat when I get there. Sometimes we stop at a hawker center on the way from the airport and eat before going "home".

          1. Tried another contender for the best wanton mee in Singapore title today: Dunman Road Char Siew Wanton Mee - the requisite stretchy, floury noodles - so different from those in HK, and tasted closer to handpulled pan mee.

            The char siew was very "porky" (eeks!) and wantons were not particularly. Light dressing like at Kok Kee and Fei Fei. But the noodles, ooh, they were good!

            Address details
            Dunman Road Char Siew Wanton Mee
            Dunman Food Centre
            271 Onan Road
            Singapore 424768

            3 Replies
            1. re: klyeoh

              You should try Eng's which is downstairs. Both are very close to the Eurasian Community House across the road.

              1. re: M_Gomez

                Will definitely do that soon, Martha :-)

              2. re: klyeoh

                Oops, re-read my post just now and realised that what I wanted to say about Dunman Road's wanton dumplings were that they weren't particularly tasty - came across as pretty bland & plasticky, almost as if frozen, instead of fresh, pork had been used.

              3. Ji Ji Wanton Noodles at the newly-revamped Hong Lim Food Centre - still tasted pretty much the same as I'd always remembered - after all, why tweak a recipe that'd worked since 1965?

                Ji Ji's wanton noodles are Cantonese-style, and shares a closer affinity to KL-style wanton noodles, with its generous slathering of soy sayce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil (plus other secret ingredients) dressing. A plate of dry (kon-low) wanton noodles come with generous cuts of char-siew which were very well-done, and a bowl of soup with 4 wonton dumplings - one of the wonton intentionally made larger than the other 3. Ji Ji serves pickled green chillis to go with its wanton noodles.

                Address details
                Ji Ji Wanton Noodle Specialist
                Blk 531A Upper Cross Street #02-48
                Hong Lim Food Centre
                Singapore 051531