Cheap & Good

Generous pau and good mee hoon kueh at Nam Kee Traditional Handmade JB Pau

The big pau is filled with a quarter hard-boiled egg and slices of pork stir-fried with onions and bangkwang.
The big pau is filled with a quarter hard-boiled egg and slices of pork stir-fried with onions and bangkwang.ST PHOTO: REBECCA LYNNE TAN

Last week's welcomed downpour gave many cool respite from days of scorching 35 deg C heat.

I wake up to a persistent but pleasant drizzle on Friday morning that has me hankering after a big, hearty meal for lunch.

For me, when it's raining outside, the best things to eat are hot, soupy comforting foods that warm the tummy.

After a morning shoot, my colleague and I make our way to The Grandstand - formerly Turf City - in Bukit Timah for lunch.

The Grandstand has many food options, from Japanese fare and Cajun-style seafood to Thai food and burgers.


  • The Grandstand, 200 Turf Club Road, 01-09, open: 10am to 8pm daily

    Rating: 3.5 stars

We decide on something a little more local - a quaint-looking shop called Nam Kee Traditional Handmade JB Pau with marble tables, stools and coffee shop-style chairs and geometric mosaic flooring.

It sells pau (80 cents to $4) with various fillings, including char siew, lotus paste and red bean paste, pork porridge ($3.50) and mee hoon kueh ($3.50), which is similar to ban mian, but instead of thick ribbons of noodles, the broth is served with irregular flat pieces of noodle dough.

There is also the option of having instant noodles or crispy egg noodles or sang meen (both $3.50 each).

Add an egg to your bowl for an extra 50cents.

The highlight here is the pau.

The char siew pau (90 cents), for instance, has a generous amount of filling - tasty barbecued pork tossed in gloopy char siew sauce encased in a soft and light bun.

The hefty big pau ($1.80) is filled with a quarter hard-boiled egg and slices of pork stir-fried with both onions and bangkwang or jicama, which give sweetness to the meaty filling. The jicama also helps to keep the filling juicy.

If you enjoy mee hoon kueh, the version that is offered here is pretty good.

Bowls of mee hoon kueh are made- to-order and cooked individually.

Small pieces of dough are flattened and torn into pots of simmering stock, after which minced pork, sliced pork and vegetables are added.

Each serving is then topped with crunchy fried ikan bilis and a dollop of stewed mushrooms that add flavour to the soup.

The mee hoon kueh is chewy, springy and not too heavy.

At lunchtime on Friday, between 12.45 and 2pm, the shop has a constant line of seven to 10 people at any one time.

By the time we are done with our meal, the rain has stopped and the sun has come out. I hope the days will continue to stay cool in the weeks to come.

  • Follow Rebecca Lynne Tan on Twitter @STrebeccatan
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 17, 2016, with the headline 'Pau wow'. Subscribe