Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee: An ordinary bowl of dry pan mee saved by its chilli sauce

·4-min read

Knowing how temperamental the weather can be, finding food options that fit the ‘sweater weather’ and bare-shoulder vibe is truly a challenge. One’s got to be prepared, right? Lucky for us, the versatile ban mian rises to the occasion. My family and I dropped by Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee, a well-lit casual eatery in Tampines.

Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee Tampines Shopfront
Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee Tampines Shopfront

Now, this space is not their sole outlet and interestingly enough, is co-shared with Yaowarat Thai Kway Chap. Also, before the foodie nazis come for me, Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee serves up flat egg noodles in both soup and dry versions— KL-style!

Seats were plenty yet I found it odd how there were less than five dining groups during the peak dinner hour on a weekend. Oh well, a taste test would soon reveal more.

What I tried at Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee

Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee Fried Pork Ban Mian
Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee Fried Pork Ban Mian

First on the lineup for the evening was the Dry Chilli Pan Mee with Fried Pork (S$7.30), with ban mian (flat egg noodles) as my noodle of choice. An ordinary-looking bowl no doubt but I had all fingers crossed that the flavours and textures would prevail.

Mixed up ban mian
Mixed up ban mian

I gave the bowl consisting of noodles, dry chilli, ikan bilis, fried garlic slices, minced pork, and a soft-boiled egg, a good toss. One slurp and it was clear why Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee was named as such.

The dry chilli was special. No other word quite describes it as right. I suspect the addition of hae bi (dried shrimp) in its mixture contributed to its elevated flavour profile. It was surprisingly spicier than I expected as well so do have a glass of water on standby if you don’t do so well with spice like me.

Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee Chilli Sauce
Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee Chilli Sauce

What I loved about this dish were the unassuming crunchy sidekicks— fried garlic and ikan bilis. Aside from adding another dimension to the dish, it balanced out the heat with its saltiness which was thoroughly enjoyable.

I’d think without the dry chilli, this bowl of pan mee would easily go under the radar.

Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee Fried Pork
Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee Fried Pork

Now, I didn’t forget the glistening deep-fried pork. It was served separately from the noodles to avoid getting soggy. I mean, with such a crisp, golden exterior, it would be downright criminal if it wasn’t served as is!

Fried Pork
Fried Pork

My first bite sent the pleasant crunch echoing through my ears and reaching out for a second morsel in no time.

Each pork belly slice was well-marinated and fried beautifully. Every bite had a good ratio of that sinful layer of fat, crunch, and meat. A worthy knight to the royal pan mee indeed.

Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee Mee Hoon Kueh Soup
Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee Mee Hoon Kueh Soup

Without the dry chilli, I wondered if the Mee Hoon Kueh Soup (S$4.80) would fall short. Everything was similar to the dry version except for the addition of spinach.

Mee Hoon Kueh Slices
Mee Hoon Kueh Slices

The perfection of the machine-made rectangle mee hoon kueh didn’t sit right with me, perhaps because I’ve been spoiled by freshly prepared, uneven, and hand-torn noodles. 

Something about the mass production of these noodles affected my impression of Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee but I thought I’d let my personal bias take a back seat first. I savoured the soup together with the ingredients and was let down by my own expectations by how the crunchy gems became soggy.

Don’t get me wrong, it still held a strong personality, just not much integrity.

Mee Hoon Kueh Soup & Ingredients
Mee Hoon Kueh Soup & Ingredients

Since the chilli stole the show in the dry pan mee, I thought I’d share the same impression for the broth in the soup pan mee. Despite being served piping hot (which is always a bonus), the broth was rather ordinary. Not too light nor rich, sweet nor salty. It was like the less salty version of store-bought chicken broth at best.

If I had to compare, I’d say the dry bowl triumphs the soup version by a few notches.

Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee Spinach Soup
Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee Spinach Soup

By now, I was pretty convinced that any bowl without the dry chilli would be substandard.

For the final act, I had the carb-less Spinach Soup (S$5.30), which came with a generous helping of spinach, and half a century egg.

Spinach Soup
Spinach Soup

I can see how diners would opt for this, be it for health or warmth. Even without the main starch, the contents would satiate any empty stomach. As for the soup, it was altogether just plain and normal.

Comforting bowl for a rainy day? Yes. Comforting bowl for the soul? Questionable.

Final thoughts

I can’t be certain that I’ll return for the soup but for a dry spicy bowl of goodness? Absolutely. Better yet, get it with the addictive fried pork belly.

While pan mee and ban mian are both not my go-to comfort food unlike many others, I’m positive the enthusiasts would agree with me that not all bowls are created equal. In this case, Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee’s dry chilli would receive a standing ovation but for its soup, a few claps at best.

Expected damage: S$4.50 – S$7.80 per pax

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The post Ng Kuan Chilli Pan Mee: An ordinary bowl of dry pan mee saved by its chilli sauce appeared first on SETHLUI.com.

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