Across the border, a phenomena has been happening even before the pandemic. Many successful food hawkers start to employ foreign workers and almost without exceptions, the food quality drops. We seldom see this in Singapore but today I came across one.

He Jia Huan used to be very famous in the west side for their Handmade Noodles or Ban Mian. The coffee shop they were located in caught fire a few years ago and since then I have not been back. Decided to revisit this stall today and to my surprise, the shop is still around but run by Vietnamese.

I ordered my usual mee hoon kway. At 10.30am I was the first in queue (so I cannot attest to whether their business is still as good as before). But the taste has changed.

First off, the soup has no more umph! It was just simple clear broth, very little umami. Secondly, the mee hoon kway was not hand torn but came in square pieces cut by cookie cutter. The reason why I always appreciate the hand torn versions is because the one pre-cut end up in clumps (see photo). Stirring vigorously during cooking may avoid this but not always. Today I had to chew through stacks of mee hoon kway sometimes three layers thick.

The one saving grace of this stall is the price. At $4.50, the portion you get is big and they generously give lots of minced meat, sliced pork and an egg. The ikan bilis was a let down, although they gave lots of it. They seem to be those you can buy off the shelf rather than fried in-house and very salty.

They also use sayur manis but quite stingy with the vegetable. Chilli sauce was not the cut red peppers with soya sauce but it was also very salty.

Let you guess whether I’m coming back any time soon.