Err do you mean Methamphetamine?
Some of you might ask me.
Do I look like a Meth-Head to you ?
Methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant that is mainly used as a recreational drug and less commonly as a second line treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity.
If you’re wondering about that even for a fleeting moment, then maybe like me you have recently binge watched the Netflix hit “ Breaking Bad “ an intense groundbreaking 5 season series which won a total of 110 TV awards including the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Drama.
In the show, a struggling school teacher teaching Chemistry finds out he has lung cancer and doesn’t have much time on this earth. Devastated, he is driven into despair thinking how he can provide for a 14 year old son who has cerebral palsy and a pregnant wife with their second child coming.
In desperation, he decides to enter into ties with the drug cartel to produce the purest meth the world has even seen. He was immediately plunged into a murky world of intrigue, violence, mass murders and the dark underworld.
It is one of the most gripping dramas on TV, bringing you into a never ending roller coaster ride of drama, tension, betrayals, and spine chilling situations that just goes from bad to worse. And above all, unbearable stress and intense desperation at every turn.
All featured in the world of Methamphetamine or otherwise the drug known as Crystal, Ice, Meth, Blue or Speed.
But no. Not so tense lah.
I’m talking about MHK – Mee Hoon Kway.
So second daughter extraordinaire Sarah has recently been telling me about her craze and hunt for good Mee Hoon Kway or Pan Mian.
More particularly, she has been talking about a particular stall which impressed her in the Telok Blangah area.
Amongst all my offsprings, Sarah is most invested into Hawker food like me. I am proud of the fact that she has a reasonably good palette and a very clear independent streak not easily influenced by others about whether she likes or dislikes any food she eats and why.
This one has the making of a foodie.
I’ve invited her to write a food article to post in this blog so watch this space.
But I digress.
So she brought me to her “ Telok Blangah stall” not saying much except that she likes it.
So I came with no expectations or any idea what I was in for.
The Setting – Jiak Song Mee Hoon Kway
What a name.
In our local Hokkien dialect, Jiak Song literally means “eat until shiok”.
Shiok is another Singlish word meaning “ damn enjoyable” “blissful”, “out of this world”.
See – this blog is angmo friendly and we provide holistic interpretations at no extra charge.
All you angmos Sipei Heng (“damn lucky”).
When we arrived 5 minutes before their opening time 9 am, the stall was half shuttered but I was immediately intrigued.
Wow – I could spy with my Chinese little eye they had a small dough making machine right in front of the stall.
So they hand make their own Chinese pasta sheet (Mee Hoon Kueh) at the stall?
Impressive. My spirits lifted considerably.
The Product – Mee Hoon Kway
So Mee Hoon Kway is essentially “wheat flour cake” in the Hokkien language.
Kueh means “cake”.
It has a doughy and slightly chewy texture and the dough is torn by hand into smaller pieces after a long sheet is made.
Mee Hoon Kueh dough is made with all-purpose flour, egg, water, and a pinch of salt.
Clean tasting and has a nice bite. Altogether quite a pleasant carbo.
The mee hoon kueh, which is the flat carbo, is hand torn, then blanched and usually served with a rich pork and anchovies-based soup, minced pork, fried anchovies, fried shallots, and a green vegetable like Chye Sim or Chinese spinach.
And of course a quintessential tart chili on the side.
Other carbo products are served as alternative offerings for you to choose from.
The most popular other carbo being pan mian (sometimes known as ban mian) which is made from the same dough but cut into mid sized noodle strands.
Bee Hoon or vermicelli is also one of the options.
More surprises – the chef owner is an alumnus contestant of the Singapore Master Chef franchise Sarah casually mentions to me when we were seated in front of the stall.
So as I am now researching and writing this article after I have returned from breakfast (I generally try not to read reviews before I eat the food as I want to be completely unfettered in my views and evaluation about the food and nothing else), I learnt that Chef owner Aaron Wong was and still is a professional photographer prior to joining the Singapore Master Chef contest.
He has a passion for photography and diving.
He fared well in Masterchef Singapore and came down to be one out of the last 5 contestants and won quite a few food challenges in the series.
He had his trademark Trucker cap throughout the competition which became something of a signature calling in his look.
The Plot thickens
So here I was in front of his stall.
His stall is simply decorated with a fairly neat, slightly old school look. A faux old school kerosene lamp (but bulb operated) at the front of the stall completed the old school effect.
The signage also had prominent light box attractive photos of his offerings which were highly effective in upping the appeal of the food, and makes ordering very easy.
I think attractive photographs of the food is so important and I have always wondered why many stalls are always adorned with shitty looking photographs or cramping too much into a dizzy kaleidoscope of confusing images.
The simple signage was interspersed with smaller photos of local foodie celebrities and magazine write ups which upped the glamour factor a little.
I saw a photo of Aaron with a KNN (“a word with emphasis about having a picnic with your mother”) sipei (“damn bloody”) humsum (literally “handsome”) movie actor looking botak (“ bereft of or follically challenged”) man.
That man looks incredibly like Sean Connery when Sean Connery was alive, speaking in a Scottish brogue and sipping martinis (shaken not stirred).
Haha it is my Bro and Guru Benny Se Teo.
I look at signages a lot from a marketing angle. I also examine critically how a stall or restaurant is set up, where everything is, does the work flow make sense, how the processes are set out etc. A throwback from my days as a COO and an old habit.
Sarah commented that she was impressed with how clean the stall was and I commented that yes everything was orderly and work flow makes sense.
Aaron and his helpers moved smoothly and with precision, aided by good work flow and processes.
The dough was pressed through the machine for each bowl and presented to Aaron to cook.
Aaron’s assistants were friendly to the customers and took their orders swiftly. The orders moved fast.
I was laughing and telling Sarah how just 2 days ago, a curry rice stall I patronised had the worst set up in the history of mankind.
The solo old man was packing my order and he had the various dishes stacked in front of him messily (not good for optics attraction), some slightly behind him (terrible marketing as customers may not notice). And the worst is – after I completed my order, he balanced the plate full of dripping curry sauce) and got out of his stall because his wrapping sheet and chilli is located on the ledge outside of his stall!
So he comes out of his stall dripping curry sauce all over his counter and packs the food outside (facepalm).
So much for efficient workflow.
But back to Aaron’s stall.
I came at 9am when the stall opened and 3 customers formed a queue in front of me once the shutters opened.
Thereafter there was a constant stream of customers although the queue was very manageable.
But I would imagine by lunch time the queue would be crazy.
The food arrived.
Visually pleasant enough.
I ordered the dry version because most Mee Hoon Kway stalls did not offer a dry version.
I ordered the full works version which included their home made prawn ball.
The egg was cracked into the soup.
I drank the soup. Nice. Flavours were balanced and the subtle hint of pork and anchovies did not overwhelm. The cracked egg was a nice touch – giving the soup a richness and umami factor.
I tossed the Mee Hoon Kway with the juices without adding the chilli and took a bite.
The al dente Mee Hoon Kway was done to perfection. For me at least because I like my noodles with a little bite and not be drowned in the haunted well.
The dough tasted fresh and light and wasn’t tough and lumpy like in some stalls. Their Mee Hoon Kway is clearly a cut above others.
And how did he achieve that wok Hei (slight burnt smell usually achieved only through a roaring fire) smell in the Mee Hoon Kway? I was intrigued.
This was not from the soup mind you. That also had a a hint but the wok Hei smell I got was from the dry mee Hoon Kway.
Aaron doesn’t have an open fire in his stall and he uses electrical hobs and cookers. How did he achieve the wok Hei even if he had blanched the mee hoon kway in the soup ?
Hmm interesting. Good skill.
The dry mee hoon kway was delicious.
And that chilli ? Very nice too – nice bright colors, medium heat with a hint of garlic, ginger (maybe), vinegar, sugar, lime juice (maybe).
The chilli complemented the dry mee hoon kway well.
In the interest of science, I ordered another bowl. This time, it was the soup version with Ban Mian.
The ban mian noodles was just as nice as the mee hoon kway. Al Dente with a bite.
The soup was even tastier with the minced pork and crispy anchovies cooked in.
Both dry and soup are good. I really can’t choose the next time I come.
I read somewhere that Aaron is contemplating wanton mee as a possible second venture.
Can’t wait to see what he does with char siew and wantons.
But in the meantime, this is my go to place for mee hoon kway and ban mian.
Good job Sarah 😃😃.
Jiak Song Mee Hoon Kway
Address: Telok Blangah Crescent Block 11 Market and Food Centre, #01-108, Singapore 090011
Opening Hours: From 9am on weekdays and weekends until the food is sold out (about 1-2 Pm).