CHEAP, GOOD & HEALTHY
Can leaner cuts of meat be more flavourful? Owner and chef Lim Choon Hong of Zhenguang Wantan Noodles at Haig Road Market and Food Centre bets his wantons on it.
The 74-year-old uses lean pork in the filling of his wanton and sui kow dumplings. He selects leaner cuts of pork collar and pork shoulder to make char siew for his signature Wanton Noodles as he says the meat is tastier compared to pork belly.
He has used leaner cuts in his noodle dishes since 1975, when he took over his late father-in-law's stall, originally located at Hin Hollywood Canteen in the Tanjong Katong Road area. The stall has a history dating back to 1964.
Early this year, the stall's signature Wanton Noodles, Shredded Chicken Noodles and the Dumpling Noodles, all priced at $3, were identified as healthier choices and now carry the HPB's Healthier Choice Symbol and Lower In Calories label.
To qualify for the Lower In Calories label, a dish has to add up to 500kcal or less. A typical dine-out meal is about 700 to 800kcal, while the recommended daily energy intake is 2,200kcal on average for men and 1,800kcal for women.
So it clears the "healthier choice" hurdle, but does it pass the taste test?
ZHENGUANG WANTAN NOODLES
Where: 01-67 Haig Road Market and Food Centre, Block 14 Haig Road
Open: 6.30am to 3pm daily (Blocks 13 and 14 Haig Road will be closed for spring cleaning on July 25 and 26)
The Wanton Noodles come with a generous portion of evenly sliced lean char siew and chye sim on a bed of springy noodles. The char siew is tender and well-marinated, savoury with the right balance of sweetness.
Five juicy wanton dumplings are served on the side in a delicate but flavourful broth.
Mr Lim procures freshly made egg noodles from a supplier chosen by his late father-in- law.
Mr Lim's wife, Madam Tang Lai Yin, 66, says in Mandarin: "My father was particular about the quality of the noodles. When he handed the stall to us, he repeatedly made us promise to continue using noodles from his chosen supplier."
The couple run the stall with help from Mr Tang's younger sister. The three of them start work daily at 4am to roast char siew, prepare the dumplings and broth before opening the stall to customers at 6.30am.
No effort is spared when it comes to the food preparation.
The broth is slow simmered from pork trotter bones, chicken breast, anchovies and ginger. Even the chilli paste and green pickled chilli for use as condiments are made in-house.
The crunchiness of the sui kow in the Dumpling Noodles comes from fresh sea prawns which are purchased whole, shelled, cut into chunky bits, then combined with lean pork and water chestnut for the filling.
The Shredded Chicken Noodles packs flavour and texture with Mr Lim's generous use of premium dried shiitake mushroom. The chunky pieces of mushroom and tender chicken breast meat come lightly cloaked in a cornflour- based gravy for a glossy finish.