Cheap & Good

Cheap & Good: Qiu Rong Ban Mian at Marine Parade Central Food Centre

The recent bouts of rainy weather have made me crave hot and soupy dishes.

Slurping a bowl of ban mian, or thick ribbon-like noodles, is a comforting perk-me-up that leaves my tummy feeling warm and satisfied.

Ban mian can be found in almost every hawker centre and foodcourt, so I make it a point to remember the few places that serve good versions of the dish.

One of them is Qiurong Ban Mian & Seafood Soup in Marine Parade Central Food Centre. The popular stall was tucked in an obscure foodcourt in the basement of Roxy Square for 15 years before it relocated to the hawker centre two years ago, when the mall was redeveloped.

Location aside, nothing much has changed since my last visit - in 2014 - when it was at the old location. The orange bowls, the faded menu signboard and the prices and quality of the food have remained the same.

The bowl of ban mian (above) from Qiurong Ban Mian & Seafood Soup is filled to the brim with noodles, chye sim, minced pork, ikan bilis and fried onion bits.
The bowl of ban mian (above) from Qiurong Ban Mian & Seafood Soup is filled to the brim with noodles, chye sim, minced pork, ikan bilis and fried onion bits. ST PHOTO: KENNETH GOH

  • QIURONG BAN MIAN & SEAFOOD SOUP

  • 01-161 Marine Parade Central Food Centre, 84 Marine Parade Central; open: 10am to 10pm daily

    Rating: 3/5 stars

Qiurong offers about seven types of noodles, including mee hoon kueh (hand-torn noodles) and you mian (thin noodles), which diners choose for its nine noodle dishes. Choices include noodles with sliced fish, seafood and tom yum seafood. Prices range from $3 to $4.50.

I stick to my regular order - a bowl of ban mian (from $3) that is filled to the brim with noodles, chye sim and minced pork. The bowl is so crammed that digging in without it overflowing is impossible. The bowl is topped with heaps of ikan bilis and fried onion bits.

I like that the noodles, which are made in-house, are more doughy and chewy than those served at most places. The broth is thicker and flecked with bits of meat and egg. And it is also subtly sweet.

Ms Zheng Qiurong, 58, who runs the stall, says this is because she simmers the stock with pork ribs and an entire chicken for two hours to enhance the flavour of the broth.

It goes so well with the noodles that I hardly touch the minced pork and vegetables in the bowl.

Another dish that stands out is red wine chicken mee sua ($3.50), which is not commonly found in noodle stalls.

Ms Zheng scoops out four large pieces of chicken braised in red glutinous rice wine into a bowl of mee sua, ladles broth over it and finishes it off with lashings of rice wine.

The dark red broth is tangy. Eating it with the tender chicken slices and silky mee sua, the dish gets more addictive. I arrive for this meal drenched and cold, but leave feeling warm and contented.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 13, 2016, with the headline 'Oodles of goodness'. Print Edition | Subscribe