Shen Yang Feng Wei: Noodles & xiao long baos handmade upon order by native Chinese chef

·5-min read

Tai Hwa Eating House at Crawford Lane houses one of the cheapest and most famous hawker stalls that has a Michelin Star. The stall is so popular that it’d probably overshadow Shen Yang Feng Wei, an obscure stall serving Chinese regional cuisine at the same kopitiam— I’ve been there twice and didn’t even notice the stall.

shen yang feng wei - tai hwa eating house
shen yang feng wei - tai hwa eating house

10 years ago, if you’d asked me whether I’d tried Chinese regional food before, the answer would be no. I was first exposed to this cuisine when my ex-colleague, Adam, who hails from Harbin, brought me to Chinatown for my first virgin experience. My taste buds were treated to an exciting buffet of flavours and sensations that are still vivid in my mind until today— that was how mind-blown I was!

shen yang feng wei - stall front
shen yang feng wei - stall front

Chef Gao Pan has been running Shen Yang Feng Wei for the past 13 years together with his wife who occasionally helps out. I was treated to a colourful display of pictures showcasing his food with dish names that were in Mandarin, and was spoilt for choice as there were about 20 different varieties of dishes to choose from— that’s a lot for a one-man show!

What I tried at Shen Yang Feng Wei

shen yang feng wei - hot and sour soup
shen yang feng wei - hot and sour soup

Those who know me personally will know that I’m not a soup person. I brought Adam along as one of my dining partners because he was the perfect candidate for today’s makan trip— a native Chinese person trying out Chinese regional food. He encouraged me to try their 酸辣汤 (Hot & Sour Soup) (S$5.50) as he usually has it at his hometown.

shen yang feng wei - hot and sour soup
shen yang feng wei - hot and sour soup

At Shen Yang Feng Wei’s price point, I was pleasantly surprised when I used the ladle to portion out the soup for my three dining partners. I discovered that it was generously laden with ingredients including enoki mushrooms, cubes of tofu, black fungus, carrot strips, minced meat and egg.

As the first spoonful of soup entered my mouth, my taste buds picked up strong hints of pepper with a touch of sourness lingering behind from the vinegar. Adam nodded with a look of content expressing that this soup tasted very authentic. He said, “The spice should be dominated by pepper, it tastes like what I have at home usually.” This dish was quite unique to me as I rarely order it, and I found myself falling in love with the pepperness eventually.

shen yang feng wei - potato strips
shen yang feng wei - potato strips
shen yang feng wei - potato strips closeup
shen yang feng wei - potato strips closeup

We moved on to Shen Yang Feng Wei’s 拌土豆丝 (Shredded Potato Salad) (S$5). This is always a must-have whenever I’m going for a Chinese regional meal. The fine strips of potato were tossed with minced garlic, chilli flakes and chilli padi.

According to Adam, chilli oil is used in their region rather than chilli padi. Chef Gao probably tweaked his recipe a little to suit the local Singaporean palate. The potato strips were very light and crunchy— exactly how I like it. The only gripe I had with it was the lack of sourness coming from the vinegar— I would have preferred a stronger acidity to it.

shen yang feng wei - xiao long bao
shen yang feng wei - xiao long bao

I witnessed Chef Gao making the 小笼包 (Xiao Long Bao) (S$6.50) upon placing my order for it. He expertly kneaded and shaped the dough to produce the perfect-looking parcels of goodness.

shen yang feng wei - closeup of xiao long bao
shen yang feng wei - closeup of xiao long bao
shen yang feng wei - closeup of xiao long bao
shen yang feng wei - closeup of xiao long bao

Upon picking the Xiao Long Bao up clumsily with my chopsticks (I’m not good at using them), I could see how delicate they were as I took a bite off, and watched the glistening stock flow out of the bao onto my spoon.

I paired it with the black vinegar served with ginger strips, and closed my eyes for a split second. I had a food orgasm for that moment— it was so good! The skin wasn’t thick and the meat within was flavourful without the gamey pork taste.

shen yang feng wei - zha jiang mian
shen yang feng wei - zha jiang mian

Shen Yang Feng Wei’s 炸酱面 (Zha Jiang Mian) (S$5.50) was served with a heap of shredded Japanese cucumber with the usual dark minced meat pork topping with a bed of handmade noodles resting below. The mian was also churned out on the spot by Chef Gao using a pasta machine.

shen yang feng wei - tossing of noodles
shen yang feng wei - tossing of noodles
shen yang feng wei - tossed noodles
shen yang feng wei - tossed noodles

As I tossed the lovely concoction, the ivory-hued noodles turned into a delish looking golden brown shade, slightly glistening due to the slightly oily soybean paste sauce. The noodles were super springy and I was obsessed with the texture of it.

The sauce wasn’t overpowering and it was seasoned perfectly, and the crunchy Japanese cucumber strips added a crunch factor to the overall dish— this was one of the best zha jiang mian I’ve ever eaten!

shen yang feng wei - guo tie
shen yang feng wei - guo tie

The last dish we had at Shen Yang Feng Wei’s was 锅贴 (Guo Tie) (S$6.50). It was served with a crispy golden brown crust on top, which is usually made using a cornstarch mixture. It came with a side of black vinegar with ginger strips.

shen yang feng wei - closeup of dumpling
shen yang feng wei - closeup of dumpling
shen yang feng wei - dumpling dipped in vinegar
shen yang feng wei - dumpling dipped in vinegar

I broke through the crispy thin crust with a gentle push using my chopsticks, and the lovely pieces of Guo Tie were revealed. The lovely dumplings were filled with a perfect ratio of pork and chives, which had a perfect balance of flavours. It paired really well with the tangy black vinegar and spicy ginger strips.

Final thoughts

shen yang feng wei - overview of all dishes
shen yang feng wei - overview of all dishes

Eating at Shen Yang Feng Wei was a homely experience for me. I felt like I was invited to a meal at Chef Gao’s house as he brought the dishes to our table personally, and asked us to ‘慢用’ which means ‘eat slowly and enjoy the food’.

I’ll probably return to try the other dishes whenever I’m craving Chinese regional cuisine. With yummy affordable dishes and a native Chinese chef who is so friendly and warm, what more can you ask for?

Expected damage: S$5.50 – S$12 per pax

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New in town: Go! K-Jjajang – Serving Korean Chinese fare at Amoy Street

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