Ain Popiah Basah, Woodlands: “The Vietnamese beef pho from this hawker stall is worth a try”

Perhaps I’ve been craving Vietnamese food a little too much, but don’t you think Singapore could use more eateries, restaurants or hawker stalls, selling authentic Vietnamese food? For me, there’s no doubt in my mind that the answer is yes. When I heard about Ain Popiah Basah over at Woodlands with pho on their menu, I travelled the distance with hopes of having my cravings satisfied.

Ain Popiah Basah Shopfront

Be sure to look out for a bright purple signage as the eight-month-old hawker stall is nestled at the far-right corner within a coffeeshop under Block 182. Ordering was very quick and customers are handed a physical receipt with a hand-written queue number. I waited under 10 minutes before I heard a familiar voice call shout out my number—no buzzers here just yet.

Here’s a fun fact: Ain Popiah Basah is Muslim-owned and first started out as a home-based business in 2011, selling Vietnamese food such as pho and spring rolls. Before this venture, the couple, together with a business partner, opened a stall selling popiah and rojak only.

What I tried

Vietnamese Beef Noodle

Alright, let’s get to it. My main agenda today was to try the Vietnamese Beef Noodle (S$6), alternatively known as pho. Since the lady boss, Ain herself is Vietnamese, I had great expectations for this unassuming bowl to transport me to the land of the ascending dragon.

Unlike traditional Vietnamese places which typically served condiments like basil leaves, beansprouts, lime and chilli on the side, this version had everything in one bowl, plus fried shallots. Ain Popiah Basah only serves one type of pho, which comes with beef slices and beef balls.

A slice of beef from the Vietnamese Beef Pho

With one sip, the beef bone broth delivered spectacular aromatics and a lovely balance of sweet and savoury notes. A flavourful bowl with just the right amount of spices—any more would probably be too herbal. If I had to be picky, I’d prefer for a lime wedge served on the side, so I could add on the zestiness.

The lean slices of braised beef were tender and half-cut beef balls ever so bouncy. Nothing mind-blowing to shout about but overall, impressive for its price point. It’s easy to say that every spoonful left me wanting more. Woodland-ers, you guys are in luck!

2 rolls of Prawn Popiah

Next up, Popiah Basah. I opted for Prawn (S$2.50) and got two rolls because one is never enough. All the popiahs are freshly rolled upon order and from the sheer size of each roll, you can tell that see how generous they are with the filling.

Ain Popiah Basah - Prawn Slice

Just as I guessed, each slice was substantial and required two separate bites instead of one. That’s how thick each roll was!

Loaded with braised turnips, carrots, peanuts, cucumbers, and prawns, these were pleasant and enjoyable as a midday snack. Since I opted for chilli to be added as well, I must say, the kick of sambal was pretty fiery. Nonetheless, a worthy treat if you’re in the area.

Rojak (Youtiao & Taupok)

I thought it was rather interesting that Ain Popiah Basah had Rojak (S$4/S$5/S$6) on their menu but of course, I couldn’t resist adding it to my order. I opted for the Taupok & Youtiao version instead of the Mix, which admittedly, was a wrong move on my part.

The option I ordered was as literal as it was. The plate came with bite-sized taukwa (fried beancurd puffs) and youtiao (fried doughsticks), doused in a sweet peanut sauce. That’s about it; no cucumbers or pineapples as a traditional one would usually have. That’s when it dawned upon me that I should have gotten the Mix!

Ain Popiah Basah - Youtiao

My blunder aside, I was here to play judge to the combination. Firstly, the sauce was delightfully sweet yet not too overpowering. It has just a small kick of spice which was a nice touch. Together with the crushed peanuts, this is one commendable rojak, that easily nailed the core components.

If I had to be picky, I would say the youtiao could have been left on the grill to be charred a little longer. It was missing that ASMR-worthy crunch. Overall, a delicious and generous portion at its price point.

A gentle reminder that if you want the OG rojak, go for the Mix. Plus, add on Century Egg for an additional S$1.20 or Cuttlefish for an additional S$1.50 if it suits your fancy.

Ain Popiah Basah - Kueh Pie Tee (Crab)

Onward to Kueh Pie Tee, and this time I opted for Crab Bite (S$4). Each serving comes with five filled shells.

One Crab Kueh Pie Tee

The filling is similar to that of the popiah, just with mini morsels of crab instead. Perhaps these laid on the table for a while as the camera went around snapping pictures since the sauce seeped through the shells, which made each bite less crispy than I expected. Reminder: eat these first while it’s fresh!

Ain Popiah Basah - Muah Chee

Lastly, we closed our meal with a sweet finish and one of my favourite local snacks, Muah Chee (S$3). I thoroughly enjoyed the soft, chewy, chunky cubes of glutinous rice flour coated in crushed sugar and peanuts.

So simple yet so comforting. This nostalgic snack is a must-get if you love Muah Chee as much as I do.

Final thoughts

A variety of dishes at Ain Popiah Basah

I must say, it was such an experience savouring authentic Vietnamese beef pho in a hawker setting. Definitely worth a try. Although it’s not what you’d typically experience at a traditional Vietnamese eatery, this definitely does the trick when you’re craving beef soup on a rainy day.

As for the rest of the cast, I’d say it was well worth the trip from Tampines to Woodlands. Though next time, I do hope to see more Vietnamese options!

Expected damage: S$3 – S$6 per pax

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Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Ain Popiah Basah

Block 182, Woodlands Street 13, Singapore 730182

Price
Our Rating 4/5

Ain Popiah Basah

Block 182, Woodlands Street 13, Singapore 730182

Telephone: +65 8738 8696
Operating Hours: 11.30am - 8pm (Wed to Mon), Closed on Tue
Telephone: +65 8738 8696

Operating Hours: 11.30am - 8pm (Wed to Mon), Closed on Tue
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