Cheap & Good

Cheap & Good: Spicy prawn mee and hearty lor mee at Gik Gik Heng

Both the prawn mee (above left) and lor mee (right) use a flatter version of yellow noodles, giving the dishes more bite.
Both the prawn mee (above) and lor mee use a flatter version of yellow noodles, giving the dishes more bite.ST PHOTO: YIP WAI YEE
Both the prawn mee (above left) and lor mee (right) use a flatter version of yellow noodles, giving the dishes more bite.
Both the prawn mee and lor mee (above) use a flatter version of yellow noodles, giving the dishes more bite.ST PHOTO: YIP WAI YEE

I have learnt not to trust Instagram food reviews.

After trying out a few food stalls based on recommendations I found on the photo app, I have discovered that many of the suggestions were because they made for great pictures rather than yummy meals.

Frustrated from having had a few consecutive bad lunches, I decided to do things old-school - check out the stall with the longest queue.

At Cheng San Market & Cooked Food Centre in Ang Mo Kio, I zone in on Gik Gik Heng, a noodle stall with a steady stream of customers.

I order a bowl of each of the three items advertised on its signboard, but the pork rib noodles are already sold out at noon.

So, I settle for the lor mee and the dry version of the prawn mee (from $3 each) and dig in.

  • GIK GIK HENG

  • 01-129 Cheng San Market & Cooked Food Centre, 527 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10; open: 3am to 1pm daily, closed on Wednesdays

    Rating: 3/5 stars

The yellow noodles used for the prawn noodles look different from the usual ones. These are a lot wider and flatter. The shape gives the al dente noodles more bite, which I like.

It also does not have the overwhelming alkaline lye water taste that you sometimes get with traditional yellow noodles.

The noodles are topped with two prawns, slices of meat and fish cake and a generous amount of crispy fried shallots.

The dish looks harmless, but a few mouthfuls in, I realise that it is very spicy. The heat kicks in strong and I need to slurp a few spoonfuls of the soup on the side to douse the fire.

Then, I move on to the lor mee. Looking at it, I understand why the dish is so rarely featured on Instagram. The murky black gravy looks unappetising and there is so much of it that it covers the noodles.

But when I start tossing the noodles - the flatter version of yellow noodles is used here too - I dig up plenty of ingredients, including roasted pork, a whole braised egg and fish cake. The star of the dish, however, has to be the crispy fried pork skin, which provides a nice crunchy contrast to the thick gravy.

I devour the two bowls in no time and while the dishes were not mindblowingly good, they were hearty and comforting.

So hearty that I almost fall asleep at my office desk afterwards.

So, yes, I still trust people. Just not on Instagram.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 01, 2018, with the headline 'Follow the queue for good food'. Print Edition | Subscribe