A Michelin star is an accolade that every Chef wants in his career. But some would rather see the happy faces of people enjoying his food, the more the merrier. And in UNESCO-certified hawker culture of Singapore, many Michelin starred chefs have ventured out to open their own hawker store.
I was foraging for my lunch in Shenton Way and in the middle of the CBD there’s Lau Pa Sat. It means 老巴刹 or “old bazaar/market”, the and was a colonial marketplace that was converted into a eating destination. Because it’s the Heightened Alert, there’s no dining out. So Lau Pa Sat was almost empty.
There are many good eats in Lau Pa Sat that include many local favourites, like satays, BBQ stingray, local noodles. And Chef Kang decided to challenge one local favourite – Hokkien Prawn Noodle.
Besides managing his one Michelin Star private kitchen, Chef Ang Song Kang, aka Chef Kang, also has to take care of Chef Kang’s Wanton Noodle House in Toa Payoh Lor 3, and his Chef Kang’s Noodle House in Lor 4. The wanton noodles got him his Bib Gourmand. And now he has a hawker stall in Lau Pa Sat that is serving his special prawn noodles.
Each bowl of prawn noodles is served with two prawns and a cutlet of deep-fried prawn paste pork chop. There are also unusual choice of noodles like ramen, bamboo-pressed egg noodles 竹升面 used in wanton noodles.
The yellow noodles he uses are custom made to the chef’s specifications in order to reduce the alkaline taste usually present in yellow noodles. When I went for my first mouthful, the chilli sauce brought back all the memories of prawn noodles that I first tasted in my childhood.
When I finally plucked up my courage to try spices, dry prawn noodle was the first item I tried. And that homemade chilli with belachan was deeply itched into my food memory. Chef Kang has awoken that memory as that down-to-earth and homemade goodness is hard to find these days.
While Singapore-style prawn noodle soup typically uses a pork bone and shrimp-based broth, Ang uses chicken as an alternative to pork as it gives a cleaner flavour. To be honest, I was quite disappointed by the broth. It was actually quite chau chor (a Teochew term that we associate with bad seafood) and lacked the sweetness and umami of natural, fresh prawns.
The prawns seemed to have been sautéed before serving, as the shells had that smoky taste. Something different, but not something that I was expecting or preferred. Hokkien prawn noodle is all about the prawns. There’s another version in Old Airport Hawker Centre that used live prawns – yes swimming live prawns – that are cooked a la minute and I liked that version.
And then there’s the deep fried prawn past pork chop. Again an innovation of Chef Kang, but that’s too much innovation in an old classic.
Final comments – the chilli in the dry noodles version saved the day with its nostalgic taste. But there’s better prawn noodles in my humble opinion.
Chef Kang’s Prawn Noodle House (Lau Pa Sat)
18 Raffles Quay, Stall No. 26, Singapore 048582
Date Visited : May 2021