Last Updated: July 22, 2021
If you’re a Hokkien Mee aficionado like me, you’d definitely have heard of Hainan Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodle at Golden Mile Food Centre. While the legendary establishment fries one of the most stunning plates of Hokkien mee in our little red dot, some worry about the eventual retirement of the ageing owners.
If you’re one of them, then you’d be excited to hear about Liang Ji Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee, which is just less than a year old. Why, you ask? Because the man behind the wok is the son of the owners of Hainan at Golden Mile.
Much like how people have high expectations whenever a protege of legends like Joël Robuchon is set to helm a new restaurant, Hokkien mee lovers are expectedly hopeful of the continuation of this legacy. You can find Liang Ji Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee nestled in a nondescript coffee shop in Geylang, just a stone’s throw away from 126 Dim Sum.
Those who are familiar with its pedigree will know to expect a dry-style Hokkien mee that’s a continuation of a decades-old legacy. Some may notice that it’s a slight departure from the typical gravy-drenched renditions you’d find all over Singapore.
It’s an exhilarating sight watching the maestro at work here. The wok acrobatics are a sight to behold as he slowly piles on the noodles and a myriad of ingredients, then tosses them with gusto and manoeuvres the wok with finesse and precision,
Smoke quickly rushes to fill every bit of empty space in the stall, as clouds of smoke continuously billow out of their small kitchen area. This is how you know the Hokkien mee is going to be filled with that sweet, sweet wok hei.
Fans of Hainan’s would definitely recognise the iconic vintage tri-coloured floral plate that is used to serve the Hokkien Mee (S$5/S$10) at Liang Ji. As mentioned before, this plate of Hokkien Mee comes out with a dry consistency where the gravy is absorbed into each strand of noodle.
That said, Liang Ji’s Hokkien Mee was distinctly missing the same depth of flavour that Hainan boasts of. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty solid plate of noodles but it just doesn’t live up to the billing if you came with high expectations.
But if you abandon those lofty expectations, as you logically should, you’d find that it’s a solid endeavour that’s still a cut above most Hokkien mee around Singapore—sporting a nice moistness and a good dose of smokiness.
I can’t find fault with the noodles themselves, but there is an issue with their sambal chilli. To me, sambal is such an integral part of the Hokkien mee experience. If the sambal isn’t up to par, the Hokkien mee can never be truly amazing. To put it bluntly, the sambal was anaemic, lacking any fragrance or zest. It merely mustered a feeble punch that could hardly leave an impression on the palate.
Thank God for the pork lard though; it helped provide a boost of fragrance that the sambal should have provided.
Liang Ji also put a more luxe spin on their Hokkien Mee, offering toppings like Lala (S$3), Abalone (S$10), and even Lobster (market price). Digging into the Big Prawn Lala Hokkien Mee (S$15), I couldn’t detect any marked departure from the regular plate’s profile, even though the lala was apparently thrown into the mix while frying.
Even while the same issues pervaded this iteration of Hokkien Mee, it was compounded with a massive glaring flaw—the big prawns. It’s a sizable flaw that marred the very essence of this upgrade. While I can accept slightly overcooked prawns, a trademark endemic in our hawker scene, this was a bit too far off the mark. The crustaceans were rendered a mushy and flavourless plating prop that actively hampered the dish, instead of improving it.
That said, the lala and squid were actually cooked to a surprisingly immaculate texture—something rare in Hokkien mee, but Liang Ji managed to hit that sweet spot.
Despite all the hiccups in execution, one thing that Liang Ji provides that more places should learn from is the choice of adding on gratuitous amounts of Fried Pork Lard ($0.50) to your plates of noodles. The texture was one of a softer, airier crisp as compared to a thunderous crackle—while it’s not my thing, some prefer it that way.
Did it live up to its pedigree? Not really. But Liang Ji’s no-frills plate of Hokkien Mee is a pretty respectable dry-style rendition, which is a rather rare find in Singapore. Just stay away from the promise of the opulence of items like big prawns and your Hokkien mee cravings shall be duly satiated.
Expected damage: S$5 – S$15 per pax
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Our Rating: 3 / 5
Liang Ji Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee
134 Sims Avenue, Singapore 387456
134 Sims Avenue, Singapore 387456