Eng’s Wonton Noodles
I came across Eng’s wantan noodle house from Johor Kaki food blog.
Another food with history in Singapore. Below are the brief history extracted from the story written on the wall at the Eng’s Noodle shop.
The story started in 1950’s with a China Cantonese immigrant called “Panjang” (named by the villagers due to his tall and skinny physique) started peddling wantan noodle within the Joo Chiat neighbourhood on his tricycle-converted push cart. Panjang secretly picked up the tips of cooking wantan noodle from the Cantonese hawkers at Chinatown during the earlier periods when he was selling coarse fabrics to the labourers and Samsui wonmen.
With his flair for cooking, he loves to whip up unique recipes of his own and all the more, ventured into developing his own version of wantan noodle. He gave the recipe a little twist by creating a different chilli paste (Ref: ieatishootipost food blog – It was made from the blend of eight different dried chillies from India balanced with salt, sugar and vinegar) to suit the strong taste buds of his customers in Joo Chiat whom many chilli-loving Peranakans.
These days, Panjang’s son, Eng who was still in his early teens, would help him call out for sales by hitting the bamboo clapers in a specific rhythm that goes “Kok Ki Ki Kok – Kok Ki Ki Kok” to attract attention. So while Panjang cooks over the mobile stove, Eng would serve and do deliveries to nearby households.
Fast forward the story to 1976 – 2012. More than a decade later n 1976, under the Environmental Public Health Act, all roadside hawkers and food peddlers had to be relocated to Hawker Centre for better hygiene and food safety controls. Eng’s stall was allocated to Dunman Food Centre where he continues his passion in serving his faithful customers whom many has turned friends. Shortly in 1977, Panjang aged 91, had passed on. Eng nevertheless continued selling wantan noodle there until 2012. Desmond, his son, succeeding him in carrying on the legacy. At the same year, Eng’s Wanton noodle moved over to the current location at Tanjong Katong Road and rebranded themselves as Eng’s Noodle House (Ref: The Food Stalker on the Move).
Eng has made some changes after the re-location (Ref: ieatishootipost blog) –
- The chili has toned down a little so it will appeal to more people.
The chili is stored in squeeze bottles for everyone to determine how hot they wish
The story is fascinated and shows how a typical Chinese migrated from China to South East Asia to earn their living. Mr. Eng’s father to create the unique chilli paste to suit the local residents has become a signature and uniqueness of their wantan noodle. The noodles itself stand out too because it is thicker and slightly curly than the normal wantan egg noodles. It is like Korean instant noodle as what mentioned in Johor Kaki blog. Eng’s noodle shop offers free flow of crunchy lard crackers and this is another favourite of local Singaporean. I have seen a young customer who sat next to our table poured a whole lots of lard crackers, a die hard volume of chili source plus pickled green chillies to the bowl of noodle. And, the way he ate is like how Japanese eat ramen. He “swallowed” all the noodle in few minutes plus a big plate of additional order of wanton. This should be the classic way how to eat Eng’s wanton noodle I guess.
Personally I found the chili is too spicy and a bit flat. It totally overwrite the feeling to enjoy a plate of wanton noodle. The feeling of having a place of traditional wanton noodle mixes with black source, ketchup and sesame oil with old style egg noodle. With a little of “mild secret source” like the one I tasted in Old Airport Road Hawker Center (Hua Kee Hougang Wantan Noodle).
The service is a bit lower than average. Because of the long queue and the way how they arrange the table for customer, it is like having wanton noodle in a busy production line of a manufacturer factory. The staff do not seem to be happy to work there because hardly I could see them smile. I have bad impression with the lady who collect payment at the counter because she shouted at me with “No photo!”. Apparently I found a few bad comments with their service at other blog too.
Another thing to take note is the price is at the high side. A small plate of wanton noodle cost S$4.50.
Nevertheless, Eng’s Noodle is definitely a place to visit. Because of their history, because of Panjang who created the unique chili. Because of Eng who helped his father to boost the sales by hitting the bamboo clapers in a specific rhythm “Kok Ki Ki Kok – Kok Ki Ki Kok”. Because of the “Korean” instant noodle style with free flow of pork lard. I would at least try once. And you will remember their unique wanton noodle in just one try.
Just a side note. While writing this blog, I found ladyironchef (another famous food blogger in Singapore) has selected Eng Kee Noodle House as the best wanton noodle in Singapore. Drop a note here to visit next time.
Eng’s Noodles House 榮高叉烧云吞面
Address: 287, Tanjong Katong Road, Singapore
Hours: 11am to 9pm
GPS: N 1.18.401 E 103.53.744
Google Map: 1.306691,103.895730