Bright red. Add that colour adjective to the dish ‘mee goreng‘ and most Singaporeans who know their hawker fare will immediately say “Hass Bawa!” Over 40 years old in 2022, this stall at Marine Parade is somewhat of a legend in hawker food circles. I have eaten there dozens of times and don’t think I know anyone (if they are not vegetarian) who hasn’t sampled Hass Bawa’s signature scarlet dish already.
However, I realised that I hadn’t visited since I started working at sethlui.com, which is a travesty. Deciding that I needed to make a formal assessment of their famed dish wearing my ‘food editor’ hat (LOL), I made the short drive to Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre with 2 trusted foodie kakis.
What I tried at Hass Bawa
We visited on a weekday evening and the Hass Bawa stall was not crowded at all. In fact, we were the only people in line (although there were some people already eating there). The much-vaunted Hass Bawa Mee Goreng (S$4.50) was the subject of the day’s scrutiny so both my dining companions and I ordered a plate each.
The wait wasn’t long— less than 5 minutes before the 3 identical dishes turned up at the front counter. I was actually salivating as I walked over to the steaming plates, which tells you how much I have enjoyed my excursions here.
Our basic mee goreng plates each contained an average-sized portion of noodles, potato cubes, a little mutton and shreds of fried egg. There were a few leafy veggies hiding between the noodles as well as some mildly spicy slices of green chilli. Adorning the side were two slices of cucumber slathered in the obligatory squirts of tomato ketchup.
We could have added Extra Egg (S$1) but decided to stay true to the basic version to make a more accurate comparison. You also have the option of asking for a basah (wet) preparation that comes with more sauce at no extra charge— I am not a fan, though.
First, the noodles. The yellow strands were done perfectly and felt tender but with just the right amount of ‘chew’. I have heard some complaints about how oily the mee goreng here is but don’t think it’s overly so. For me, the level is just right and does not leave that unpleasant aftertaste you get the ingredients are fried in low-quality oils.
Mutton bits add a bit of bite to the mix but there just wasn’t enough for it to be really consequential. Of course, for S$4.50, that’s not a surprise. We also encountered some potato cubes which added a pleasant mouthfeel and rounded savoury flavour.
It was fortunate that there wasn’t much green chilli in my mee goreng because while the little monsters weren’t particularly spicy, I definitely needed my soft drink a few times. On the other hand, I would have loved a few more green veggies in my dish to give it a more balanced taste (and nutritional value).
All 3 of us definitely enjoyed our meal despite these minor hiccups.
I have to admit that Hass Bawa’s mee goreng can be a bit of a hit and miss affair. Don’t believe me? Just read the reviews on Google and you’ll find that some people absolutely adore this stall’s take on the classic Malay dish while others just cannot understand the hype.
When I tried to figure out the reason for the divide, my first instinct was to assume that it was a simple matter of preferred tastes; some like the Hass Bawa flavour while others do not. However, I took it a step further and visited the stall a number of times with the same 2 friends.
What I found was that we either all loved it or thought it was sub-par on the same days!
So, it’s not a matter of individual taste but rather some inconsistency in the way that the dish is prepared. Is it a different cook? Does the quality of the ingredients vary widely between days? I don’t know. All I can say is that when they get it right, it really hits the spot and I completely agree with calling it one of Singapore’s best plates of mee goreng.
My hope is that they can review their process and hone in on what the issue is on days that the dish falls short. If they manage to fix the problem, it’s an easy 5 stars for Hass Bawa from me.
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