Makansutra: The 40-year legacy behind humble Sims Drive prawn mee
The 40-year legacy behind the humble prawn mee
It is a humble kopitiam dish, but trust me, making prawn mee soup achieve its "humble" and comforting status is way more complex than you think.
Mr Johnny Lim began his prawn mee and laksa business 40 years ago when he hit the streets around Singapore with a recipe he picked up from his mother-in-law.
Mr Lim has been faithfully whipping up that same prawn mee soup and laksa in this coffeeshop for the last 30 years.
You often see this menu combo in stalls as prawn stock is commonly used to make laksa, another of Mr Lim's specialties.
His take on the Hokkien noodle dish, which has roots in Fujian, China, is indeed the "humble" version.
His basic technique for that all-important stock includes wok-roasting prawn heads before boiling them with pork or chicken bones together with bits of rock sugar, garlic and shallots. This will give you a clear broth.
Over the years, I have pondered about hawkers' additional secret ingredients in their stock recipe.
One technique is the use of a good soy sauce plus boiling fried shallots in the stock till they wither away. I could taste that in Mr Lim's version.
The prawn noodles were what I call comforting. The clear prawn broth with yellow noodles and beehoon (my favourite combination) hit the spot and I slurped up the last drop of soup.
The bean sprouts lent a lovely crunch to each and every bite. The dry sambal chilli version was a tad tame but it was perfect for this kopitiam's regular folks, mostly retirees and Merdeka generation seniors.
His laksa is the classic Chinese version which looks mean, but is actually light and full of stock flavour, balanced with the rempah of the laksa spice blend.
He also uses blood cockles, which true blue Nonyas, the original purveyors of laksa, frown upon. The cockles, sweet and crunchy fresh ocean prawns, fish cakes and a sprinkle of laksa leaves complete the dish.
The noodles are shredded so you can down both the noodles and broth in just one scoop.
Best to blend in a dollop of sambal to enhance the kick.
A piece of good news is that his 22-year-old Shatec-trained son, Mr Y.Y. Lim, is set to take over and preserve the family's 40-year tradition.
The younger Mr Lim does all the preparation work in the back of kitchen and takes over the cooking when dad takes his regular break.
Geylang Laksa & Prawn Noodles
Sheng Hui Coffeeshop, 45 Sims Drive #01-150
Open 6.30am to 1pm, closed on Tuesdays