Friday, 9 December 2016

Wah Kee Big Prawn Noodle at Esplanade Mall - is it like Pek Kio? ⭐⭐⭐⭐✱

Wah-Kee-Big-Prawn-Noodle-Esplanade-Mall

Wah Kee is one of my favourite prawn mee stalls in Singapore and it is also one of the most famous. Wah Kee founded in 1951 was one of the pioneers of big prawn noodles back in the 1980s (it was then at Farrer Park).

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Third generation Wah Kee just opened a branch at Esplanade Mall - it's so new, the bouquet for the opening ceremony still looked fresh 😀 It's 7:30pm on a Friday evening, and there was no queue.

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The notice outside said all the big prawns were sold out, leaving only the normal SGD6 version. Never mind, I am happy as long as there is their legendary prawn broth.

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Inside Wah Kee at Esplanade, the decor is minimalist. A simple, quite charming wall mural depicting Wah Kee's street side origins was the centre piece. The wooden furniture were set quite close together, but are sturdy and comfortable. The interior is air conditioned and lit with spot lights which can be quite warm if you are directly under it. (I had to as I needed to take photos 😂 )

As I sat at my table, I could smell the gentle crustacean aroma from the open kitchen which filled the entire room.

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The menu is simple and everything is on one piece of paper. The menu is basically the same as the (still operational) parent stall at Pek Kio food centre except for the add on of oysters (which we shall leave for a future visit).

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I started with a spicy "dry" set of yellow noodles and a bowl of prawn broth (price SGD6++). The noodles were served in slightly atas (premium) bowls but the chopsticks were the disposable kind.

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There were 3 prawns halved, about the size of a man's pinkie (little finger). The prawns were fresh and tender with very slight sweet flavour which was mostly masked by the robust spicy sauce.

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There was a little heap of fried shallots and lard crackling on top of the mound of noodles.

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I gave the generic limp yellow noodles a good toss in the slick greasy savoury spicy sauce with a pronounced lard taste. As I slurped up the slick noodles, my lips were smeared with grease like a layer of lip gloss. Lip smacking shiok 😋  I love the noodles enveloped in the robust sauce loaded with flavours though it tended to mask the delicate taste of the fresh prawns.

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If prawn broth is the soul of the prawn noodle dish, then Wah Kee's got plenty of soul. The broth is robustly crustacean savoury, layered with assertive garlicky savouriness. I love this as the taste of prawn heads is distinct and distinctive. There is a little onion/ shallot sweetness for balance in the mainly prawny savoury broth.

I know such strong flavours like strong personalities may not be everyone's cup of tea. But, they have a strong following, and the fans they have - they tend to be die hards.

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I enjoyed my dry prawn mee so much that I ordered a spicy mee kia "soup" version to try (price SGD6++).

The waitress at first thought I was requesting for extra soup. That's when I found out from her that customers could ask for soup top ups. That's very generous of Wah Kee, as I assume that the prawn broth is quite costly to make.

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This prawn broth was just as good. Having the mee kia soaking in the broth didn't alter the taste profile by much.

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The mee kia was done really well. Even when bathed in soup, the soft springy texture of the slender noodles is comparable to the better wanton mee or bak chor mee stalls. Next time, I want to try the mee kia dry.

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So I put their free soup top ups policy to the test lah 😉 The waitress came back with this large bowl of tongue scathing hot broth. I am touched. It was delicious to the last drop 👍

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I like the service here at Wah Kee (Esplanade Mall) especially when Wah Kee at Pek Kio is infamous for it's rather brusque service 😂 The youthful staff are friendly, attentive and earnest. When I declined to order any atas drinks from the menu, the waitress provided me this glass of water free of charge, even though I did not ask for it.

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Pricing is at a considerable premium (SGD7 after adding GST and service tax) compared to it's Pek Kio parent stall (SGD5).

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4-Star (out of 5). If you are visiting Singapore and want to taste the legendary Wah Kee prawn noodles, their shop at Esplanade Mall is a good option (if you have no time to go to Pek Kio food centre). The shop at Esplanade Mall has kept faithfully to the flavours of the parent stall at Pek Kio. There is a price premium but you get a convenient city centre location and a bit more creature comfort to enjoy your prawn noodle. I shall be back for the famed BIG prawns and also indulge in the oysters next time. Love the free soup top ups 👍

Singapore-Skyline-Esplanade

Wah Kee big prawn noodle made the leap from street side hawker stall to central business district restaurant without compromising their original flavours. That's something to celebrate.

Wah Kee parent stall at Pek Kio 👈 click

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Restaurant name: Wah Kee Big Prawn Noodle (Esplanade Mall)
Address: 8 Raffles Ave, #01-13C, Esplanade Mall, Singapore (along the long narrow courtyard between Barossa and Demand & Supply)
GPS: 1°17'21.9"N 103°51'23.3"E | 1.289416, 103.856484
Tel: 6327 9187
Hours: 11:00am to 2:30pm | 5:00pm to 10:30pm

Non Halal

Date visited: 9 Dec 2016

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