I think I am getting island fever. I love living here in Bali, and generally praise the food, but anytime a foodie lives in a small town, at some point they itch to try something new. They think about what is missing from the local food scene. They fantasize about food.
I have yet to have noodle hallucinations, but I do miss some of the great Chinese food we have had in places like Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Considering we have two more months before we leave the island on our first visa run in six months, I am left salivating over photos of Eng’s Noodle House in Singapore. It did not help that our Singaporean friend, Leigh, was visiting last week, and was tempting us with offers of exploring more of Singapores famous food stalls.
We visited Eng’s several times during our trips to Singapore, as it is a short walk from where we were house sitting for George and Daisy. It was not our intended destination that first night. We tried to go to a strange sort of hawker center, which had a pleasant Thai pork dish we had the day before. Unfortunately, the stall was closed, as were most of the other stalls in the food court. Deflated, we started to walk back towards the house, while trying to find an alternative for dinner. Eric had his heart set on that pork, though.
As we walked the busy street, we were drawn in by the simple sign, and the even simpler menu at Eng’s Noodle House Singapore on Tajong Katong. The place was also pretty packed, which is always a good sign. Eng’s speciality is Char Siew Wantan Mee. Char Siew is a tender sliced barbecue pork, in an almost unnatural red color. Mee is a noodle, just like Mee Goreng is a friend noodle here in Indonesia. Your choices: wet or dry, with wet being in broth and dry coming with the soup on the side. Both dishes come with some pork filled wantons. There has always been something decadent for me when a dish comes with both noodles and wantons. Why should a foodie be forced to choose between the two?
They also serve some tasty friend wantons with a spicy dipping sauce, which also tastes good slathered over the noodles. I was excited for the hot sauce, which comes with a warning label – Beware of Super Hot Chili. In the end, it wasn’t too hot too handle for me, but we both have extremely high tolerances to spice. We washed the spicy chili drenched noodles and wantons down with a sweet lemonade served in a glass jar.
I am also infatuated by the concept of sharing tables at restaurants like these. We are used to it, having traveled so much in Asia, and visiting many a crowded dim sum hall in Hong Kong. We even would pride ourselves on being okay sharing a table during a busy dim sum rush back in the States. Many Americans might be turned off by the concept, but we enjoy it. During one of our last visits to Eng’s we met a couple of Singaporeans out on their lunch break, and had a very nice conversation. That’s what happens when you share.
Until then, I am left remembering the noise that emanates from the packed Eng’s dining room, loaded with cheap plastic tables and chairs. I am left with the smell of the barbecue pork, the lemonade, and the strange waft of cleaning products. I am left remembering how tender the pork was, and how perfectly cooked the noodles were. I am left remembering how hard it was to get the slippery wantons onto my chopstick.