Wonton mee master makes his own noodles
The man behind the signature Crystal Jade wanton mee, complete with its iconic, roasty, Cantonese style sambal chili paste, is back.
Five months ago, Mr Tang Siu Nam set up stall in Bukit Timah - 10 months after he shuttered up his previous stall.
Of his previous venture that lasted only 14 months, he says: "It's a complicated story but it was basically a partnership problem."
Mr Tang, 84, is one of the oldest master hawkers in Singapore.
Assisted by his wife, Madam Happy Yong, Mr Tang knows that the kopitiam scene is volatile as owners, concepts and rent can change any time.
He hopes his wife can obtain permanent residency so that he can apply for a cheaper and more permanent public hawker centre stall reserved for Singaporeans and PRs.
A mouthful of Mr Tang's food and I know everything will fine. Indeed, things might even be better.
He says: "I use another noodle supplier, one whom I once taught how to make noodles and is now running a successful supply business."
And the master goes to his supplier's factory once a week to help handmake a batch of noodles for himself.
It keeps his skills intact, he says.
The crunchiness, resilience and al-dente chewiness of the noodles play second fiddle to the signature rough and roasty sambal chilli paste, a key secret to his wonton noodles.
The paste is extremely comforting when blended with his sweetish soya sauce and sesame oil sauce mix.
The few leaves of chye sim add colour and texture but his bold and fat wontons take the whole plate of noodles to home base.
Go ahead, order a portion of his beef brisket, braised chicken feet and pig trotters (above) - it's a complete Cantonese comfort meal.
They all come softly firm, robustly flavoured and the sauce enlivens the noodles even more.
For those who also remember Mr Tang's pork liver porridge, bad news: He no longer sells it.
I have not come across anyone making liver porridge the way he used to do. He would let it sit for 15 minutes and the liver would remain soft and creamy inside.
Many chefs may tell you this is not easy to achieve and it has to do with the method of the marinade.
So here's my idea: Go persuade Mr Tang to do it at least once a week.
Bear in mind his age, his manpower problems and his love for an active senior's life.
Master Tang Wanton Mee
Kopitown Sixth Avenue, 10E, Sixth Avenue
8am to 4pm, closed on Thursdays