The Makan Detectives came alive today.
Mission – to suss out the hype about Chef Kang’s Prawn Noodle House and Chef Kang’s Wanton Noodles both in the food friendly district of down town Toa Payoh.
Doc Adrian and I agreed to meet at 1015 am at the prawn noodle joint on a Saturday morning.
I have great respect for this Old Timer Chef as he has failed many times and have picked himself up again.
Michelin-starred chef Ang Song Kang or Chef Kang, as he is better known, has had a hard life.
As a child, Mr Ang, the eldest of five children, was brought up by a single parent, and the family faced extreme poverty.
His working life also weathered many storms. He has opened up many eateries and closed them, and his business ventures have not always been smooth.
In 2009 he filed for bankruptcy and shortly after, he was diagnosed with kidney cancer, which is now in remission.
Undeterred, in 2015, he opened up Chef Kang, a private kitchen concept at Mackenzie road which houses just 5 tables.
He tasted success with his private kitchen concept when he won a coveted Michelin Star in 2017.
I have tasted his food at the private kitchen and it is deserving of the star.
Chef Kang prawn noodle house
I arrived at 1020 am and already there were 7 to 8 people ahead of me in the queue.
Doc arrived shortly after. We waited for about 20 minutes to get our table. That is considered a short queue so I would say an average waiting time would be at least 30 minutes
The cosy air-conditioned eatery is utilitarian and has a modern decor with white-washed walls and black furnishings.
It was simple and pleasant but rather small (seating about 25 I would say) so be prepared to have to share tables and not linger.
The prawn noodles
For $10 that’s what you get above.
If you ignore the piece of prawn paste pork cutlet above, the prawn noodles looked quite simple on its own. You get a solitary medium sized prawns sliced into two so forget about savouring too much of the prawn meat. The pork lard was a nice touch but again didn’t make that dish any more special than what you can taste anywhere else.
So it’s down to the broth.
I have read that instead of using pork bones or pork ribs, Chef Kang uses chicken feet (for the collagen), prawn heads and premium hae bee (dried prawn) for the stock.
I’m afraid I’m not a fan of the stock.
Granted it was tasty but it lacked the umami of a robust pork flavoured prawn stock which I like in my prawn mee. It’s ultimately a matter of taste but it just didn’t work for me.
And what about the interesting prawn paste pork rib ? I love the presentation and the thoughtful netting to keep it crispy.
But I did find it a little tough and a bit of a disconnect with the dish. I would have liked maybe a super crispy prawn paste patty in place of the pork chop .
So overall the dish was not bad but I wasn’t bowled over.
Hot Stone clay port rice
This hot stone bowl arrived still sizzling. It looked appetising with a serving of what looks like Thai jasmine rice, fried lard cubes, spring onions, and a raw egg yolk. Dark soy sauce and what looks like oil (lard oil?) were offered on the side for you to add if you wanted to.
And it came with a piece of the same pork cutlet as what accompanied the prawn noodles.
I actually quite liked this ensemble. I thought the pork cutlet worked better here and all the ingredients made the bowl of rice quite decadent.
If I had a wish, it was to have two raw eggs instead of one.
Chef Kang’s Wanton Noodles
This wanton mee stall was actually Chef Kang’s first venture before the prawn noodle outlet was opened.
One hears of horrendous queues and almost 2 hour waiting times after they were recognised with a Bib Gourmand nod in the Michelin Guide Singapore.
The wanton mee shop is located in an industrial canteen in Jackson square, just one street behind his prawn noodle shop. We walked there leisurely and it took us a mere 5-7 mins to get there.
The queues have obviously subsided. It was a mere 15 mins wait but it was a regular consistent queue of about 5-10 deep.
Surroundings were pleasant enough – open air but lots of industrial fans.
I thought the wanton mee was better than the prawn noodle. I wouldn’t say it’s one of the best I’ve ever tried but it was above average in all departments – char siew was good, noodles were airy, wantons were packed tight and succulent, sauces were nice.
Soup was tasty too but it was thick and cloudy, not quite the traditional wanton mee style of soup.
I thought it was very reasonable too. A standard portion was $5 and the pic you see above was a $7 portion because we added $2 char siew.
We shared the plate so that we wouldn’t lose our 6 packs which were about to surface and explode, maybe in 2025.
Chef Kang Prawn Noodle House
85 Lor 4 Toa Payoh, #01-328, Singapore 310085
Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm or till sold out (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Chef Kang’s Wanton Noodle House
Address: Block A, Jackson Square, 11 Toa Payoh Lorong 3 Singapore 319579
Opening Hours: Closed on Mondays. 8am to 4pm on Tuesday – Friday, 8am to 2pm on Saturday & Sunday (or till sold out).