Have you ever eaten something that gives you pause and go, “Oh, tastes just like home cooking”? That happened to me when I dropped by one early morning to eat at Dong Cheng Eatery in Joo Chiat. My goal was the stall called Traditional Joo Chiat Prawn Mee. Aptly named, I know.
It’s a 3rd generation stall that’s over 60 years old. About my grandma’s age, which is funny. See, I’m no prawn mee connoisseur but it has to be as good as my grandmother’s version for me to enjoy it.
When ordering, customers get their pick of several things, starting with size. You have the small bowl (S$4.50), medium (S$5.50) and large (S$6.50).
Then comes the noodle types. There’s your classic yellow mee, bee hoon and kway teow here. You can also request a mix of any combination. More noodles can be topped up for an additional S$1.
Customers choose between the soup version, the chef’s recommendation, or having it dry. If you pick the dry option, you get to have your choice of sauces between their homemade chilli sauce, tomato sauce, black soya sauce or a plain version which is made up of light soya and oil. Like the noodles, you can mix the different sauces.
They offer add-ons of pork ribs, pig intestines, and razor clams for S$2 and pig skin for S$1.
What I tried at Traditional Joo Chiat Prawn Mee
I tried just the soup that was given with my dry noodles. Yes, not the soup version, just the broth. Look, I enjoy liquid gold, and what gold it is! You can taste the natural sweetness it received from the prawns, and it wasn’t overly salty.
Its taste was on the lighter side, which I would say makes it great for early mornings. I should probably mention that it closes by 1.30pm. So unless you’re out for an early lunch, it’s more of a morning affair at Traditional Joo Chiat Prawn Mee.
I tasted the soup version of the prawn mee next. It’s not just because I’m a soup lover, ok? It’s just that the more it simply sat there, the more the noodles absorbed the soup. My order was for the small bowl. Maybe it was because the noodles had begun to fluff up, but I thought it was a pretty good amount for the smallest option.
This version is the chef’s recommendation, and considering that I already liked the soup, I knew what I was getting into.
I decided to go with kway teow and bee hoon. They’re my go-to noodles for prawn mee. Despite absorbing some of the soup, they hadn’t turned mushy by the time I dug in.
The prawns were fresh and crunchy. They and the pork slices were on the smaller side of things, though.
Finally, I ordered another small portion, but this time, I had it dry. Like the soup version, it comes with prawns and sliced pork. There’s also a sprinkle of crispy shallots. They were there in the soup but had gotten all soggy, and I barely noticed them.
There are going to be some who are curious about their personal chilli mix. I’ll have to personally apologise because my spice tolerance is at an all-time high of 0. So, I decided to mix tomato and black soya sauce.
It was the right blend of sweet and salty. The noodles were satisfyingly coated, and if not for the fact this was my second bowl, I would have ordered one more.
The only complaint is that I didn’t spot any bits of pork lard in either bowl. It would have elevated them for me.
With the rather quaintly sized kopitiam on a quiet morning, it was a relaxing experience, too. I got to observe the chef be on friendly terms with some customers and, of course, all his coworkers. He even helps take the orders for the drinks stall.
Okay, so the atmosphere is pretty great and all. But my final verdict for the food?
I’m not going to ham it up for you. It’s simple, yes. But it’s a good old-fashioned bowl of prawn mee. If you recall what I said about what I look for in prawn noodles, maybe you can guess what I’ll say.
Honestly, it was a pretty good level to set for Traditional Joo Chiat Prawn Mee. It carries the comforting taste of a home-cooked meal. If that sounds appealing, remember to drop by early.
Expected damage: S$4.50 – S$6.50 per pax
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