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Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Prawn Noodles Shootout

A friend posted a link to a webpage review of the 6 "best" prawn noodles in Singapore. One thing led to another and soon we were talking of doing our own tasting. A wicked idea then came to us. Instead of going to the different outlets over several days, why not do it all on the same day! And so we rounded up a small group of friends and whittled down the list from 8 to 6 and finally 4. Everyone was in agreement that 6 bowls of prawn noodles in a day will be a tad too much calorie and cholesterol overload. The final shortlist - Wah Kee Big Prawn Noodles at Cambridge Rd; River South (Hoe Nam) Prawn Noodles at Macpherson; Blanco Court Prawn Mee at Beach Road and last but not least Adam Road Prawn Noodle at Zion Road.

We started out quest at the seemingly most highly rated stall of all, Wah Kee Big Prawn Noodles. As a testimony to their fame, there was already a queue at 9.50 am when our early birds reached. After queuing for 1 hour, we finally got our noodles!

This stall sells only 1 version of the noodles but with super jumbo; jumbo, big or small prawn. There was no more "small" prawns when it came to our turn. But the bowl of noodles we ordered with 2 big and 1 small prawns at $5.00 was real value for money. And the prawns were very fresh too. Unfortunately, it was also almost an unanimous agreement that the broth was too bland for our taste bud. Maybe it is because they don't add pork to the broth unlike most prawn noodle stalls. Whatever it is, it tasted different. 

Next stop was River South (Hoe Nam) Prawn Noodles. This is in a small coffee shop and there were not enough tables for the people waiting. But they have a digital queuing system so we could place our order, find a place to sit and wait for our number to be called. Very efficient. No need to stand and queue for 1 hour. We waited for about half an hour for our food.

Here they serve many different of prawn noodles - with pork ribs; pig tail; abalone; clams; To ensure a fair comparison, we only ordered the plain old prawn noodles. Broth was definitely more tastier than Wah Kee but the prawns wasn't that big or fresh. Plus point was they provided chilli powder. At the end, everybody agreed it was not too bad but not really that good too. In fact of our group who used to eat there twice a month commented that the standard seems to have dropped a lot.

From Macpherson we went to Beach Road to Blanco Court Prawn Mee. This particular place has 4 other related stalls including probably the most famous prawn noodle of them all, the Beach Road Prawn Mee at East Coast Road. Maybe because it was raining, it wasn't as crowded as usual. The wait here was, actually what wait? There was no queue and the noodles came to our table in less than 5 minutes.

They also serve various version of prawn noodles but again we ordered only the plain vanilla although some of us opted for jumbo prawn and some the normal prawns. By now some of the group were a bit jaded and has resorted to sharing 1 bowl of noodles between them. Everyone agreed the broth here was the most flavourful and the prawns were big and fresh. At least, the jumbo were. But the prices here were much more expensive with prices from $4.80 to $10.00. This bowl of small prawn noodles cost $4.80. The jumbo cost $10.80. And we all think they used MSG although we are not too sure of that. Last but not least, the portion is very small.

Medium size prawn verses Jumbo size prawn
The last stall was the Adam Rd Prawn Noodles at Zion Road. There is another outlet at the Adam Road Food centre but we choose this place because we ate at the latter more often. Unfortunately we didn't do our homework well enough and reached there at 3 pm only to realise that the stall only open at 5 pm. But on the plus side, that gave us some time to digest the food by going for a walk along the Alexandra Canal. Maybe because we were early, when we returned, there were no queue at the stall and so we ordered the  medium size prawn noodle which cost $6.00 a bowl.

When the noodles came, everyone of us were surprised. There was pork added. On top of that, unlike the other stalls, the color of the soup was more milky and not so orangy. But looks can be deceiving because everyone agreed this was the best of the lot so far.g

So exactly which one is the best. Food, as I always tell people, is very subjective. One man meat is another man poison but never the less, we all agreed to give a rating on a scale of 1 - 5 for each stall so here is the range of scores.

Wah Kee: 3 Most value for money
River South: 2.5 - 3.5
Blanco Court: 3 - 4 Most expensive
Adam Road: 4 - 4.8

But don't just look at these scores. Go try them out and see if you agree with them.

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