What makes an original an original? That question can stir a lot of debate and some very passionate responses. When I saw the Original Simon Road Hokkien Mee signboard at the 6 Saint George’s Road coffeeshop (Chang Sheng Eating House), I assumed (like you?) that the Hokkien Mee here was being whipped up by the smiling gentleman shown in the picture.
It wasn’t. The man behind the food at this stall is Mr. Yong, who was an apprentice under the owner at the Simon Road Hokkien Mee at 210 Hougang Street 21. This St. George’s Road branch was set up approximately 4 years ago. If you ate at the Hougang stall before that, the odds are that Mr. Yong whipped up one of the plates of Hokkien Mee that you enjoyed.
With the owner is so confident in Mr. Yong’s abilities that he has named this stall the Original Simon Road Hokkien Mee, I just had to try it out for myself. Also, I live literally across the road from the place. No taxi claims for this one, then.
What I tried at Original Simon Road Hokkien Mee
There was no doubt that the Hokkien Mee (S$5/S$6/S$8/S$10) was always going to be front and centre here. I chose the S$6 version and watched as Mr. Yong got to work, making the wok sing a song of sizzles.
My plate was ready in about 3 minutes. It did not seem overly loaded with ingredients but that was only because they were hiding beneath a camouflage of egg noodles and rice noodles. A single calamansi oversaw the scene from its perch inside a soup spoon.
There were 2 jars sitting on the counter, one of deep red sambal and the other of lighter and brighter orange-red homemade chilli, and Mr. Yong asked me to help myself to them. I didn’t want to seem overly ‘weak’ so I took a bit of the sambal because it looked less dangerous. (Still, my soft drink would come in handy later)
I have heard Simon Road Hokkien Mee described as “very wet” by some people and “dry” by others. My plate was in the medium zone, perhaps not as wet as the typical Hokkien Mee, which I often find is almost swimming in broth. I liked this more balanced version.
However, perhaps because of that lesser volume of broth, the dish was not as aromatic as other Hokkien Mee plates I have had. I solved that problem by tossing the noodles in search of the hiding ingredients. My reward was a cascade of prawn and sambal fragrance, with lighter hints of garlic, pork and lard. Nice.
In my plate, I found 4 medium-sized prawns, about 10 squid rings, 6 slices of pork belly and a very liberal sprinkling of crispy pork lard. All in all, S$6 very well spent.
The noodles were typically well-cooked, neither very special nor lacking in anything. I have never been a huge fan of squid and the rings here did nothing to change my opinion. They do go well with the sambal, though. Apparently, they are trying a new recipe here that has a distinctly sourer flavour. I think that extra tanginess is why it complements the squid so well.
My favourite was the prawns. Fresh and mildly sweet, their firm flesh went well with the noodles (and the sambal). Coming in a close second was the tender and juicy pork belly, which had absorbed a good helping of the rich broth.
It was an enjoyable meal that came in an ideal serving size for me and was balanced nicely between the proportion of noodles and other ingredients.
Original Simon Road Hokkien Mee is one of those names in Hokkien Mee that is regarded as superior to the typical plates you would find at a hawker stall in Singapore. At the same time, it has never reached the ‘super’ league of dishes recognised by, for example, the Michelin Guide.
Because our taste in food and especially particular dishes can be so subjective, who’s to say that it won’t make the cut in the future? I personally had a great time eating it and will readily walk across the road from my place to eat it again.
Expected damage: S$5 – S$10 per pax
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