Ever since I heard that Ebi Bar served its prawn noodles and hokkien mee in adorable dim sum baskets, I knew I had to check the place out. Plus, its umami-filled broth is said to be boiled with over 40kg worth of prawns for more than eight hours daily!
I found Ebi Bar nestled in a quiet corner of the basement of Cuppage Terrace, which is located at Somerset. Frankly, if not for the large banners strewn across the front of the shop, I’d have completely walked past it.
Despite its unassuming appearance, I loved its laid-back vibes, which were perfect for a fuss-free drinking session. There were only at most 15 tables within the tiny space, so if you’re coming in a large group, it might be wise to make a reservation to avoid long waiting times.
What I tried at Ebi Bar
Ebi Bar serves three types of main dishes: Modern Prawn Noodles (from S$14.90), “Pao Fan” (from S$8.90) and Hokkien Noodles (from S$12.80).
Though all three utilise Ebi Bar’s rich prawn broth, there are different variants of each dish depending on your choice of ingredients, which range from Ebi Bar’s signature charred prawns to pan-seared chicken.
Prompted by the tempting scent of charred prawns which constantly wafted in from the open kitchen, the first dish I decided to order was Ebi Bar’s Signature Chao Da Ebi Pao Fan (S$18.90).
This dish was presented beautifully. A porcelain bowl filled with rice and prawn broth came in a large dim sum wooden basket, and was topped with charred prawns, pan-seared chicken slices, a runny egg, tofu, lala, and a ladle full of puffed rice.
If you find the price a little steep, a more affordable Sliced Fish Pao Fan (S$6.90) is available during lunch.
The soup was superbly well balanced.
Each sip was packed with plenty of briny sweetness and a full-bodied savouriness, while not being overly salty such that it made me thirsty afterwards. In fact, Ebi Bar is said not to use any MSG at all in its prawn broth, making this rich soup a real treat.
The charred tiger prawns were another unique element of the dish. These large prawns came with its shell and head intact, and had been seared over an open flame until it was gorgeously charred.
While the prawn skin stuck to the flesh, making it hard to peel despite my relatively good chopstick-wielding skills, the tiger prawn meat was deliciously smoky and sweet. My only gripe would be that it wasn’t as juicy as I’d liked, and the meat was a little drier than expected. However, its charred element was certainly impressive, and good enough for me to return.
Admittedly, pao fan is pretty straightforward, consisting just rice, seafood and soup, but Ebi Bar’s Signature Chao Da Ebi Pao Fan came together perfectly and created a satisfying and comforting bowl of rice and soup that soothed me from inside out.
The puffed rice came with a good amount of crispy dried shrimp and added a well-needed textural contrast to the soft and fluffy white rice. I only wished that the puffed rice had been served on the side so that it’d stay crispy and I could add it as needed.
I have no idea how Ebi Bar managed to deliver such excellent runny eggs. These eggs had been perfectly timed— they were still firm on the outside and I could scoop them up with ease, while being amazingly runny and silky on the inside.
The one thing I absolutely loved about these runny eggs was how pleasantly sweet they tasted. There was none of that raw, custard-like taste, and I suspect they had been marinated lightly prior to being cooked.
Though the lalas had a delightfully smoky note to them, it was unfortunate that it hadn’t been thoroughly cleaned, as my dining companion and I bit into multiple large granules of sand throughout the course of our meal.
Out of sheer curiosity, we noticed that Ebi Bar sold “broth boosters” that you could add into your broth separately. We decided to get the Truffle Broth Booster (S$2.50), though mala fans can try their Mala Broth Booster (S$1.90) instead.
My dining companion and I agreed to pour the entire contents of the tube in, given that the truffle oil didn’t come in a large amount. Yet, the minute both of us took our first sip, the intoxicating and pungent truffle aroma was so strong that it caught us off-guard!
The Truffle Broth Booster packed a serious punch in terms of scent and flavour, and I loved how it added an intense and rich depth of smokiness to the already full-bodied soup. At the same time, I appreciated how the truffle oil didn’t dominate the taste of the soup, and I could still taste the briny sweetness from the prawn broth, which came in as a mellow aftertaste.
If you’re considering to order this or not, my biggest tip would be to add it in gradual amounts.
Having tried Ebi Bar’s signature prawn broth through the pao fan, my dining companion and I decided to try the Special Hokkien Noodles (S$19.80), which came with charred tiger prawns as well.
The Special Hokkien Noodles had been cooked using Ebi Bar’s signature prawn broth, and it really showed. This was a bowl of thick, wokhei-infused noodles that was packed with a full-bodied and rich sweetness, making each mouthful a pure delight. I also loved how the noodles had the right texture— it was glossy and soft, as if it had been stewed in prawn stock for a good amount of time.
Was this a zhng-ed bowl of Hokkien mee? Frankly, I’d say that the noodles’ flavours were pretty classic and hit close to home. The only modern element were the charred prawns. I only wished that they had been more generous with the amount of egg used.
Would I pay close to S$20 for a bowl of zhng-ed pao fan or hokkien mee? Probably not. In all honesty, if I were craving prawn noodles or hokkien mee, I might be better off visiting my favourite prawn noodle hawker stall, but Ebi Bar’s renditions of these local favourites were certainly delicious. In particular, I was impressed by how the rich prawn broth was briny and sweet without being too salty.
Despite its high price points, there is a certain novelty to Ebi Bar’s addition of charred tiger prawns which would make me consider returning again if I were ever in the area. Plus, the presentation of its dishes were on point, though I noted on hindsight that the cute dim sum baskets were only used for the Signature Chao Da Ebi Pao Fan and not the Special Hokkien Mee.
Expected damage: S$7 – S$25 per pax
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