Ban Mian

Ban Mian

Featuring L32 Handmade Noodles (Geylang), Top 1 Home Made Noodles (Beauty World), He Jia Huan Ban Mian Mee Hoon Kway (Jurong West), Lan Xiang Handmade Noodles (Bukit Merah Central), 456 Mian Fen Guo, Yue Lai Xiang Delights, Banting Traditional Cuisine, Yanan Ban Mian Noodle (Telok Blangah Drive Block 79 Food Centre), Poon Nah City [email protected] Plaza, Face Ban Mian (Clementi)
Wilson Foo
Wilson Foo

I arrived at 10.15am, after the breakfast and before the lunch crowd. Ordered their prawn paste mee hoon kway at $5.50. Owner tells me they are opened everyday except Sundays, from 7.45am to 2pm.

This mee hoon kway checks all the boxes. Hand torn dough, sayur manis, crispy ikan bilis, chilli sauce instead of cut red chilli and soya sauce and an egg dropped into the broth. The dough was cooked right. Smooth to slurp into the mouth and chewy. Soup was clear and tasted of yellow beans and ikan bilis. Break the yolk of the egg and immediately the soup has added another dimension of flavour. They were a bit stingy with the sayur manis though but who can blame them when you can go for days without finding this particular vegetable in the markets. There were also 3 small meatballs and a few slivers of mushroom. The prawn paste was soft but not crunchy, so it was not spectacular. Unexpectedly, the star of the dish is the chilli sauce. Do not dunk your dough or meatball or prawn paste into the chilli sauce unless you are very comfortable with spicy chilli. This one is very high on the chilli heat scale so my advice is to test the waters first with little smears of it using your chopsticks. It goes well with the dough, the mushrooms, the meat balls, everything. I like it very much.

Now that I know their opening hours. I’ll time a return visit soon for their dry version. Do they have one?

I have always believed that only Mee Hoon Kway that is hand torn, comes with Sayur Manis and chilli sauce can pass muster. Today I was proven there are exceptions.

This stall is located in Telok Blangah Drive market, an old HDB town. I ordered their basic Mee Hoon Kway in soup and added an egg ($4.10). I got a bowl of mee hoon kway cut in squares. But yet the dough did not clump together in an indistinguishable mass. The dough was a little chewy which is nice when consumed hot. The soup was light and clear with the hint of pepper added at the end, coming through. Instead of sayur manis, the thin strips of cabbage added sweetness to the broth.

Inside were three things that went well. The meat balls (about 4 pieces) were elliptical rather than round. They were well marinated and you could eat them without condiments like chilli sauce. The ikan bilis was crispy and fresh. And the shallot and garlic oil added to the bowl just before serving, gave extra dimensions in flavours of the sweet umami broth.

So for the first time I am finding myself gravitating to a second visit to this stall, one that does not conform to my norms of a good mee hoon kway, in order to try their dry version. By the way they also serve dumplings, fried and blanched versions, with different fillings. So yes, a second and maybe even third visit is required.

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Arrived at 11.45am and I was first in line at this stall whilst there was a snaking queue at the chicken rice stall which they share. Ordered $4 bowl of mee hoon kway soup. The portion is about enough for light lunch. So suggest to get the $5 or$6 portions if you have a good appetite. Observing the process, the dough was hand torn into the pot and not pre-cut with some cookie cutter. Took less than 5 mins to get my bowl of kway.

First, the soup. It was clear and has a good umami taste. The pieces of mince meat and cabbage added to the sweetness of the broth. The kway was well cooked, a testimony to how fast the chef pulled the dough into the pot. If he is tardy, then you will have overcooked answer undercooked dough. The ikan bilis was crispy but alas, the shallots were factory made. An egg was added into the pot towards the end and it still had runny yolk that gave the soup another layer of tastiness.

Here’s the interesting bit. The chilli sauce provided (they also have cut red chilli) is the type you get with Chicken rice. Hmmm….most convenient when you have a chicken rice stall partner sharing the stall with you. But before you go ballistic and accuse them of taking the convenient way out, the pairing of chicken rice chilli sauce with ban mian actually works. The piquancy of the sauce gave the umami kway and marinated mince pork a boost in flavours. Wow!

All in, not a bad bowl of mee hoon kway but certainly not the best in Singapore.

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Much vaunted handmade noodles in Bukit Merah with purportedly long queues. I arrived at 12.30pm and was 4 in line. Lady comes down the queue to take your orders

Not very impressed as the mee hoon kway was not hand torn resulting in clumping together after cooking and they used Bok Choy instead of Sayur Manis. The broth was normal, chilli was very good and the ikan bilis was not crunchy. As you get to the bottom of the bowl, the Kway becomes more and more chewy. Portion is big for $4.

I did observe an act of kindness. The lady taking orders told an older customer not to queue, to go find a seat. She promised to deliver her order.

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.

Although this stall sells mee hoon kway that is hand torn and comes with sayur manis, it does not quite make the cut to the list of top ban mian stalls. The soup is ordinary, ikan bilis pathetically few and serving portion is small. The mee hoon kway itself was chewy and tastes like homemade kway. It was also very bland and as the soup was also not salty and with the few ikan bilis added, the bowl of mee hoon kway came across as rather flavourless. And yet there was no chilli sauce, just cut red chilli.

The egg was added towards the end or even just pour over with the mee hoon kway and soup just before serving did nothing to accentuate the flavour, as it was a tad too raw. The minced meat was good, especially if you dip it into the cut chilli sauce.

Looking at the logo, I realised this is the Lam Noodles brand. Thank you but I’ll stick to their minced meat noodles and salt baked chicken.

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Good bowl of ban mian Malaysian style with sayur manis and ikan bilis. If you order dry noodles, give the noodles a good toss when it arrives because it will clump up soon enough after you take your photos.

I like the soya sauce they use but wish they had a chilli sauce to match. They only have this chilli sauce for dipping. I also like that they added an egg into the soup but the glutton in me wished they didn’t make use choose between prawns, minced meat, sliced fish and meatball.

All in all, a bowl of ban mian that deserves to be in Top 5.

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This stall in Sin Ming has four different types of dough that gives it different colours - Butterfly Pea, Beet Root, Pumpkin and Spinach. Blue, Red, Orange and Green. Does the mee hoon kway dough tastes any different? I have to say no.

But other than the colours, the mee hoon kway checks all the required boxes. Clear soup, check. Dough is hand torn, check. Adds Sayur Manis, check. Cracks an egg into the pot before serving, check.

So all in, not a bad bowl of mee hoon kway. I’ll bring my kids back here and see why they think.

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A very well known ban mian stall located in a decrepit mall that has seen better days. Soup is umami. Noodles are cooked just right al dente. The abalone slices were a bit chewy but these were replacement for the pacific clams that ran out. The two prawns were mid sized, fresh and sweet. They stinge on the ikan bilis though. Chilli packs quite a bit of heat but goods well with the noodles. And they give you sayur manis.

All in, this has got to be in the Top 5 in Singapore. I’ll be back to try their Mee Hoon Kueh.

For those planning to visit this stall at Beauty World Food Center, don’t come before 11.30am. You will not be allowed to queue or place order. And if you come after this time, anything goes so be prepared to queue more than 30 minutes and wait for up to an hour.

The system here is quite simple. Choose your noodles, choose your soup base, choose your add on. But for me, a handmade noodle stall should be judged based on its Mee Hoon Kuay served with clear soup with none of the fanciful clams and abalone. Just prawns and minced meat. So when my turn came, I ordered the Big Prawns Minced meat Mee Hoon Kuay.

Was the Mee Hoon Kuay hand torn into the pot? Check! Did it come with Money Vegetable from Malaysia? No! Prawns were shell on and good size? Check! Soup is clear with hint of seafood umami and yellow beans? Check. Ample ikan bilis? No. Good piquant spicy chilli sauce? No.

I must say that this stall is easily top five in Singapore and being in the west of Singapore gives it an advantage. But alas! The best it is not.

If I am craving for a good bowl of handmade noodles, the timing fits and I am too lazy to head east, I’ll be back. Otherwise, just the thought of a hour wait will put me off. Even if they are top five.


Arguably there are three things to look for when you want authentic Malaysian styled Ban Mian.
1) The Mee Hoon Kueh must be hand torn and not cut from a rolled pieces of dough with cookie cutter.
2) The vegetable used must be Sayur Manis.
3) The condiment must be a chilli sauce and not cut red chilli in soya sauce.

This outlet by the original 2016 Michelin Star Ban Mian China Whampoa Handmade Noodles hits all the above. It is located at Lor 12 Geylang Road. Their standard portions go from $5.50 and you may choose to add ikan bilis, prawns, fish maw, etc. There is even an abalone version.

The mee hoon kueh is chewy and the clear soup has a umami taste that is is similar to the type of pork bone soup with yellow soya beans that you get from Yong Tau Fu. The dry version is even more flavourful with the added black soya sauce that tastes a little sweet.

But the most remarkable is their three types of chilli sauce: The green lime chilli sauce, the chilli sauce with pineapple and the standard chilli sauce. They are all great with the ban mian, whether you order dry or soup. The green lime chilli could do with a little more tanginess and less sweet. The pineapple chilli sauce seem to be the medium type but still a little sweet for more. But the standard chilli sauce is a killer. For those who can take spice in the spades go for it. Amateurs be warned. Stay away!

I can see how the original stall got their Michelin Star but now it’s more franchised. Will go to their main branch in Whampoa again to reconfirm my theory of eating Michelin Star food only at the branch that got the Star. So far it has proven to be true for Putien and Liao Fan Hawker Chan.

I once lived in KL. Their ban mian differs from Singapore’s, especially if you order the dry version. Theirs will come with Manis vegetables, fried chilli and sweet dark soy sauce.

I have to say this one comes very close to the ones I am used to in KL. For those who cannot take a lot of spice, just order the dry normal ban mian and not their signature Hot and Spicy Handmade Noodles, just add as much belachan chilli as you. All dry noodles come with a small bowl of clear soup which has a strong taste of sea clams. Nice.

I’ll be back whether I miss KL ban mian.

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