Makansutra: Customers win in Tanglin 'food war'
Competing stalls at Tanglin Halt up the ante
The best wars to fight in this world, hands down, are food wars. Simply because there are no losers in such a war.
When the food or culinary culture of a competitor or neighbouring country is compared with yours, a whole lot of people may be looking on, waiting to relish both.
We love our Katong laksa war, chicken rice battles and bak chor mee shootouts, and of course, the nasi lemak confrontations. And now, I would like to add one more - the fried chicken wings and beehoon brawl.
A set of fried breakfast beehoon with fried chicken wings is so comforting in many ways. The umami beehoon explosion with crispy hot wings is something you have to feast on so often.
It's simply about that comforting relationship we all have growing up with this humble sensation.
Such stalls offer, apart from beehoon and wings, a warm-the-cockles-of-your-heart selection of peanut porridge, glutinous rice, and old school desserts such as sweet potato in ginger soup, green or red bean soup, and even pulot hitam.
This is a full meal - from starter porridge to dessert.
Three stalls have been amicably fighting this moreish makan war at Tanglin Halt for decades.
The dish each stall sells is almost identical to the others, with gastronomically correct variations in their menu, items that please the masses.
And somehow, they seem to have a silent peace treaty, with the queues gravitating to each of the stalls at different times of the day.
Tanglin Halt Market,
48A, Tanglin Halt Road
Mei Wei Xiao Chi, Stall 01-02, 6pm-1am, closed on Tuesdays
Its chicken wings ($1.20) have an edge - the aroma of five spice hits you and the thin crispy batter hooks you. They fry the wings only when there is a queue, just so you get them fresh.
The beehoon ($1.20), like the others, has bits of bean sprouts and carrot shavings for added crunch. It looks light and is done with a light soy sauce and stock.
Its Pulot Hitam ($1.10) is a hit because of the distinct salty coconut milk they pour over it. The peanut porridge, at $1.10 a bowl, is a slightly smaller portion and not the highlight here.
Piao Xiang Xiao Chi, Stall 01-10, 5pm-2am daily
My chicken wing vote goes to this one. The aunties take their time to fry up these juicy wings with a crispy rice flour batter and it tastes just like... chicken wings, not much distracting flavour added and the best part of it is the wings are just $1 each.
The beehoon is not the star here but the stall's edge is the glutinous rice ($1.50) - soft, smooth and not salty, and gorgeous with the sweetish chilli sauce.
The peanut porridge ($0.90) with fish cake and ikan bilis has that "childhood taste".
You Jing, Stall 01-11,5pm-12.45am, closed on Saturdays
The chicken wings here are very similar to Piao Xiang, and are equally juicy although they are pricier ($1.40).
I absolutely love the sweet potato ginger soup as it has bite. It is warm and goes nicely with the sweet tubers.
The peanut porridge at $1.50 is hearty and in big portions with generous amount of peanuts. The porridge is flavourful too.
Their beehoon, darker in colour with use of dark soy, is bolder in flavour and my favourite of the lot here.