Hokkien mee showdown: The Neighbourwok vs 777 Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee vs Yong Heng Fried Squid Prawn Mee

What’s the most effective way to stir up a heated debate between Singaporeans? The mere mention of your favourite Hokkien mee stall will do just the trick. Yes, really — your go-to could be the most acclaimed stall and there will still be naysayers.

And what is the best way to end a food-related argument? A showdown, of course.

Hokkien Mee Showdown - All 3

It goes without saying that I adore Hokkien mee with every fibre of my being. It’s easily one of the best hawker dishes of all time, no questions asked.

As a lifelong Westie, my love for the dish can be traced to the Hokkien mee haven of Bukit Batok. Unassuming as the neighbourhood is, it really is home to a ‘star-studded’ line-up of stalls that serve up stellar takes on the dish. But it begs the question: which reigns supreme?

The 3 contenders in this showdown are The Neighbourwok, 777 Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee and Yong Heng Fried Squid Prawn Mee — all mainstays of Bukit Batok, each with its fair share of devotees.

For fairness, I narrowed the criteria to specific elements of the dish on which I would base my judgement. These included the prawn stock, ingredients, value for money, wok hei, chilli and presentation, among others.

Here we go.

The Neighbourwok

The Neighbourwok - Storefront

First up on the roster was none other than The Neighbourwok, which should require zero introduction to Hokkien mee aficionados. I need to add that this isn’t just any cult favourite stall, it’s boss man Seth’s personal favourite.

The Neighbourwok opened right at the peak of the pandemic in 2020, when the Circuit Breaker was still underway. Since then, it has gone from a well-kept secret of the heartlands, to one that is commonly touted as one of, if not the best Hokkien mee stalls in Singapore.

Needless to say, I had to queue and wait; not even the odd hours past lunchtime are safe from a steady stream of patrons.

Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee (S$5/S$6/S$8) aside, The Neighbourwok also offers Chicken/Pork/Mutton Satay (from S$0.70/stick). As much as I wanted to get a few sticks, I had to remind myself to stay focused on the mission at hand.

The Neighbourwok - Hokkien Mee

After what seemed like an hour (I exaggerate), I received my S$5 plate of Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee. With zhup that threatened to spill from the plate’s sides, it would be an understatement to say that the noodles were simply gravy-laden. If there was a poster child for the wet variant of Hokkien mee, this would be it.

The plate was a pretty standard one, consisting of saucy noodles dotted with bits of egg and topped with prawns, squid, thin pork belly slices and pork lard. At my request, it was embellished with a little vibrant puddle of chilli.

The Neighbourwok - Hokkien Mee

As a wet Hokkien mee lover, I found this dish right up my alley. I enjoyed the subtle textural contrast between the springy thick bee hoon and chewier yellow noodles, but more importantly how they were enveloped by that rich gravy. It hit the spot flavour-wise as well — the prawn stock imparted a pronounced sweetness that was so addictive I was compelled to lick the plate clean.

Unfortunately, I did feel like the dish lacked one crucial element: wok hei. The smokiness in each spoonful was barely discernible, and any came primarily from the bits of charred egg. I was rather perplexed, considering how I had seen countless reviews that wax lyrical about The Neighbourwok’s intense wok hei. Oh well, even the best stalls have their bad days, or it could’ve been just my bad luck.

The Neighbourwok - Prawn

I sadly have to admit that I found the ingredients rather underwhelming as well. Okay, I’m well aware that any regular plate of Hokkien mee would get me 2 prawns, so I really am not bargaining for more. It’s a different story when the prawns are mushy, though, and mine sadly were. I would definitely have preferred crunchier, fresher prawns.

Apart from the rather small portion size, the other ingredients weren’t too shabby. I appreciated the chewiness of the squid, meatiness of the pork slices and nuttiness of the fried lard bits. These elements came together to elevate the dish taste- and texture-wise.

The Neighbourwok - Chilli

And finally, the chilli, AKA the element of highest importance to any spice lover. Coloured with a bright orange hue, The Neighbourwok’s appeared rather promising.

To gauge the spice level, I started with a little dab on a spoonful of noodles. It had a little kick to it, although not to an overwhelming extent. I could then comfortably mix the lot in with the rest of the noodles.

However, I did think that the chilli was rather one-dimensional. Tangy and spicy, it did do the job, but lacked a refreshing touch of acidity that would’ve given it a much-needed oomph.

Order Delivery: foodpanda

177 Bukit Batok West Ave 8, Get Together Coffeeshop, Singapore 650177
Daily: 11am – 2.30pm & 4pm – 8.30pm
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777 Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee

777 Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee

Up next was 777 Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee. It’s located a short walk away from The Neighbourwok, in case you’d like to go on a Hokkien mee crawl.

There isn’t much of a story to this biz, aside from the fact that it took over the reins of the space from a ‘legacy’ stall in 2018. While it is pretty popular and does have its share of devotees, it has the lowest Google rating among the contenders in this article. The polarised reviews seem to hint at inconsistency. Would the lucky triple 7 pull through on my visit, then?

777 Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee - Hokkien Mee

777 offers 2 types of Hokkien mee: the basic Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee (S$5/S$7/S$9) and Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee with Roasted Pork (S$7/S$9/S$11), an interesting combination that is unique to the stall. In the interest of fairness, I once again settled for a S$5 portion sans sio bak.

I’ll ‘fess up; I scowled when I received the plate. Where appearances were concerned, this was rather lacklustre — the grey-hued gravy looked rather dull in contrast with the vibrant orange plate. Compounding this neutral palette were the white and yellow strands of thick bee hoon and yellow noodles.

The noodles were topped with 2 prawns and slivers of abalone, along with dollops of their 2 types of house-made chilli. However, careless ol’ me forgot to ask for a sprinkling of fried pork lard; maybe those golden brown morsels would’ve given the dish a more appetising pop of colour.

777 Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee - Hokkien Mee

You know how we always talk about how you should never judge a book by its cover? Well, my first spoonful was enough to dispel any of my initial cynicism.

A smile spread across my face as I tucked in; despite its unassuming appearance, the dish had a pronounced wok hei lent not only by the wok-kissed egg bits but also by the tasty zhup. The gravy was umami-rich, with a nice balance of prawn sweetness and a distinct garlicky savouriness. I couldn’t have been more thankful that there was more than enough to evenly coat the noodles.

I was frankly a little sceptical about the mix of noodles, which consisted of a larger proportion of thick bee hoon to yellow noodles. However, I’d say that the ratio was just right; each mouthful had a substantial bite that was equal parts springy and soft.

777 Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee - Prawn

The ingredients also did not disappoint in both portion and flavour. The prawns went down in my mouth with a satisfyingly snappy crunch, coating my tongue with their sweet, briny juices.

I was also grateful that the mock abalone slivers weren’t overly fishy and rubbery, instead imparting a nice chew in tandem with the pork slices. However, as decently as this unorthodox addition worked, I’d still gravitate towards squid in my Hokkien mee.

Nonetheless, I loved how the noodles were studded with enough of each ingredient, to the point that I did not feel like I had to ration them out as I ate.

777 Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee - Chilli & Noodles

Here’s an interesting tidbit: the establishment that preceded 777 was notorious for charging 50 cents extra if you wanted chilli with your noodles. Don’t hesitate to ask for it now, though; they’ll be happy to give you as much as you please at no additional cost. On that note, they were generous enough to let me sample both of the 2 types of chilli on offer. 

Their signature blend bears a lighter orange hue, and let me tell you — it is not for the faint-hearted and spice intolerant. In other words, it packs a real fiery kick. This potent concoction will have you coughing up a storm if you aren’t careful, so take heed and mix it in sparingly.

On the other hand, you don’t have to think twice about tossing your noodles with the deeper red blend. It’s milder in spice and laced with aromatic notes of hae bee that elevate the already-flavourful noodles. I reckon it’d pair well with the Char Kway Teow (S$5/S$7) that 777 also offers.

For the best of both worlds, I recommend that you try a combination of both chilli blends — I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Order Delivery: foodpanda 

155 Bukit Batok St 11, Singapore 650155
+65 9273 9237
Wed to Mon: 8am – 9.30pm
Closed on Tue

Yong Heng Fried Squid Prawn Mee

Yong Heng Fried Squid Prawn Mee - Stallfront

And finally, our final contender: Yong Heng Fried Squid Prawn Mee, which is conveniently located right behind 777. The oldest of the lot, this stall sports a bright signboard adorned with images of accolades and newspaper clippings; clearly, they’ve accomplished a lot in the long time they’ve been around.

So, could Yong Heng’s seasoned touch be the defining factor of our winning plate of Hokkien mee?

Yong Heng Fried Squid Prawn Mee - Hokkien Mee

Yong Heng offers just its titular dish, the Fried Baby Squid Prawn Mee (S$5/S$7/S$9). Don’t be led astray by its rather fanciful name; it’s really just Hokkien mee. Again, I opted for the smallest portion at S$5.

Placed on the stall’s counter was a container of pork lard that customers can help themselves to. I was delighted not only by the free rein I had but also the sheer size of these deep-fried nuggets.

I’d say that Yong Heng’s rendition looked the most appetising; we eat with our eyes first, after all. There were pops of colour all around — orange prawns, yellow noodles, (interestingly) purple squid and golden brown pork lard morsels, all nicely contrasted by the red plate.

Yong Heng Fried Squid Prawn Mee - Hokkien Mee

The Hokkien mee here leaned towards the drier, stickier side. The noodles were evenly coated with just about enough zhup, with no excess to polish off the plate.

The gravy had a fairly discernible seafood sweetness, but was riddled with muted hints of alkalinity that subtracted from a potentially full-bodied profile. It unfortunately lacked wok hei, too. While I’d still say that it was pretty tasty, its flavours were a little more subdued than I’d have liked.

Sadly, the pork lard also failed to live up to my expectations. They were sadly soft and stale, devoid of the crunch and unctuous goodness that I had anticipated. I did, however, enjoy the mouthfeel that the noodles offered. Like 777 did, Yong Heng utilised the perfect ratio of silky and springy thick bee hoon to chewy yellow noodles, giving rise to a satisfying, substantial bite.

Yong Heng Fried Squid Prawn Mee - Ingredients

Likewise, the ingredients were decent but relatively mediocre. The prawns were crunchy but did not offer that nice burst of sweetness or freshness.

Now, onto the element that takes centre stage in Yong Heng’s stall name: the squid. I was intrigued by its shade of purple, unique in contrast to the usual white squid rings in Hokkien mee. While the squid pieces were fresh and chewy, they weren’t anything to shout about; the portion was also extremely small.

On the other hand, I appreciated the decent portion of meaty lean pork slices. They effectively sopped up the gravy and were thus quite succulent and enjoyable.

Yong Heng Fried Squid Prawn Mee - Chilli & Noodles

Visually, Yong Heng’s chilli reminded me of sambal. I was frankly perplexed on first taste; it had next to no spice and was predominantly sweet, with an oddly chunky consistency that did not blend well with the noodles. Sadly, I wasn’t a fan in the least and ended up leaving most of the pile untouched. Hokkien mee is better off paired with a zesty, fiery chilli.

Order Delivery: foodpanda

155 Bukit Batok St 11, Singapore 650155
Tue to Sun: 10am – 9.30pm
Closed on Mon

The Verdict

Ah, here comes the (dreaded) verdict that could potentially prompt people to hunt me down. I’m no good at making decisions, but my dining partner and I agreed that we’d first eliminate Yong Heng from the running. Don’t get me wrong; I did think that their take on Hokkien mee was decently tasty. However, it paled in comparison to its counterparts in this showdown and didn’t really live up to its popularity. We also agreed that their sweet chilli blend was far from the best complement to Hokkien mee.

777 Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee - Hokkien Mee

With strong showings from both The Neighbourwok and 777, each boasting plenty of individual merits, I mulled over my final choice for a loooong time. While The Neighbourwok’s umami-rich zhup enriched by the natural sweet essence of prawns was to die for, I have to give 777 Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee the edge on this one.

My only gripe about 777’s Hokkien mee would be its underwhelming presentation. Beyond that, though, the flavours and components really do speak for themselves. Fresh seafood ingredients, a well-balanced sweet-savoury prawn stock and gravy, distinct wok hei, satisfying mouthfeel, value for money and a powerful chilli to boot — it deserves this win.

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