Food Picks: Wonton noodles with a twist, hawker snacks at home

Char siew wonton spinach noodle from Mian at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Housemade noodles with a twist

Simply called Mian, which means noodles in Chinese, this recently opened coffee shop stall in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8 offers a twist on wonton noodles using housemade noodles in spinach and tomato flavours.

The Cantonese-style seasoning is kept simple with the use of oyster sauce and soya sauce. No ketchup is used, but the char siew dumpling tomato noodle ($5.50) has a rich, tangy tomato taste.

The spinach taste is less obvious in the char siew wonton spinach noodle ($4.50), but the noodles are incredibly springy.

Portions are generous too. Both plates come with five slices of housemade char siew.

The plump juicy dumplings and wonton are handwrapped every morning. The dumpling filling is made of shiitake mushroom, water chestnuts, jicama and woodear mushroom.

These days, it is difficult to find stalls which use water chestnuts in dumpling filling as peeling and cutting them is laborious.

The most outstanding flavour is that of flatfish in both the dumpling and wonton filling, as well as in the broth, which also has the rich aroma of dried prawn.

Flatfish is a premium ingredient, but I would have preferred it if it was used more sparingly in this instance, as its distinct aroma and flavour almost obliterate the natural sweetness of the minced pork filling.

Instead of the typical caixin, the stall serves premium-grade Hong Kong baby kailan with its noodles. When there is no baby kailan, the stall uses Hong Kong choysum instead. The kailan is fresh and crunchy, but could be blanched a little longer so it is more tender and does not taste raw.

The head cook Wong Wai Keung, 65, who is from Hong Kong, spends up to 20 hours a week making up to 30 per cent of the stall's egg noodles. The rest come from a noodle factory he owns in Malaysia. The staff there are trained to make the noodles according to his recipes and specifications.

The spinach and tomato noodles are made without artificial flavouring or preservatives. The egg noodles are made with a minimal amount of alkaline agent, so they are a very pale shade of yellow and do not have that slight bitterness or soapy taste of alkaline noodles that are not well rinsed.

The braised mushroom noodle ($4.50) comes with 61/2 premium-grade shiitake mushrooms - the type generous home cooks buy. They are thick, juicy and flavoursome.

Braised mushroom noodle from Mian. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

The stall is owned by Mr Wong's 32-year-old daughter Kelly, who is also a head cook, but she is on medical leave after being scalded by hot oil. For now, the stall operates from 7am to 2.30pm, but may extend its operating hours when she resumes work.

Must-try side dishes are fried chicken cutlet ($6), which is well marinated and crispy; fried dumplings ($5.50 for six pieces); and the old-school braised mushroom and chicken feet ($6), which are prepared from scratch at the stall.

Where: Stall 10, 01-2688, Block 505 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8

MRT: Ang Mo Kio

Open: Sundays to Fridays, 7am to 2.30pm, closed on Saturdays

Delivery: foodpanda and Deliveroo (to locations in the stall's vicinity)


Hawker experience at home

Gim's Heritage has a wide range of frozen ngoh hiang and fried snack products that can be reheated with an air-fryer.' ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Ngoh hiang and the accompanying deep-fried snacks are delicious, but can fill you with post-meal guilt.

Now, you can enjoy them at home without deep-frying. Gim's Heritage has a wide range of frozen ngoh hiang and fried snack products that can be reheated with an air-fryer. The retail brand is part of food manufacturer Hock Lian Huat Foodstuff Industry, which supplies ngoh hiang and food products to hawkers, restaurants and hotels.

My favourite is the golden crispy prawn pancake ($11.90 for six pieces, 450g). Each piece is about 12cm by 8cm. Packet instructions indicate air-frying at 200 deg C for 10 to 12 minutes. But I find that 17 minutes gets the beancurd skin crispier. The prawn and fish filling is bouncy, with sweetness from pieces of prawn, carrot and Chinese celery. The beancurd skin used by the company tastes just right, no mean feat as commercially produced beancurd skin often tends to be too salty.

Gim's Heritage golden crispy prawn pancake. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

My second favourite item is the crispy golden fish roe ($9.30 for three pieces, 270g). Shaped like a cylinder, each piece is orange, but no artificial colouring is used. The colour comes from the use of tobiko (flying fish roe), which explains why the snack is fairly pricey.The filling of fish paste, Chinese celery and carrot is also delightfully bouncy.

Another fun product to air-fry is the bean sprout cake ($7.70 for six pieces, 420g). I would recommend air-frying them at 180 deg C for 12 minutes. Check on the cakes, which do not need to be defrosted, intermittently while air-frying and separate them midway so they do not get stuck together. There are two crispy prawns on top of each cake. The batter is made of bean sprouts, wheat flour and water. But I can hardly tell there are bean sprouts as they are too well-blended into the batter.

The Fuzhou fresh oyster cake ($12 for six pieces, 55g per piece) will be great for small parties. Each piece is about 6cm in diameter and has a generous topping of crispy peanuts and whitebait. The filling has Chinese celery, but each cake comes with only one small oyster. The filling contains chicken and prawn meat and the batter is made from scratch using soya beans, wheat flour and starch.

Gim's Heritage bean sprout cake and Fuzhou fresh oyster cake. ST PHOTOS: HEDY KHOO

Although the cakes are crispy and savoury, I find that the filling has more dough than meat. Of course, this frozen cake cannot be compared with those sold by famous stalls, but they are a convenient option when you are pressed for time. Follow the air-frying tips mentioned for the bean sprout cake.

The fried bee hoon ($3.30 for 500g) is aromatic with plenty of garlic. But do not follow the packet instructions to air-fry it without first defrosting, which will result in slightly burnt beehoon that is not evenly reheated. Unless you like eating the crispy burnt parts, it is better to defrost, steam or microwave to reheat. Or use a frying pan.

Gim's Heritage fried bee hoon. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Gim's Heritage also has a Premium Ngoh Hiang Combo ($9.30 per pack), which comes with two traditional five-spice pork rolls, two prawn rolls - which also contains diced pork - and two rolls of fish ngoh hiang.

To complete the hawker experience at home, you can order Gim's Heritage spice sauce ($2 for 200g), a tangy sweet chilli dip that is mildly spicy, and the sweet sauce ($2 for four 50g sachets). Made from sugar, colouring and cornstarch, it is pretty tasteless, but adds a touch of nostalgia if you want to take photos of your ngoh hiang meal.

Where: Shopee, Lazada and Qoo10. Delivery charges vary according to the platform

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