Last Updated: May 8, 2018
On Liang Seah Street lies a congregation of small Chinese eateries that always seem to be filled with people. Mr. Sheng Jian (生煎先生) joined the crowd not too long ago, offering a variety of sheng jian bao, along with other traditional Chinese dishes.
I’ll first warn you that if you want to eat here, you can’t be averse to cramped spaces and noisy environments because that’s the sort of ambience you’ll get at Mr. Sheng Jian.
I must warn you further that the service here isn’t the finest, in fact, it was absent for the better part of my visit. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that the place is messy and disorganised.
But if you don’t mind scrambling to find your own seats, or searching for an order slip to fill in yourself, then read on to find on if the food served here is worth a visit!
At a place named Mr. Sheng Jian, it’d be a sin not to try their sheng jian bao. Here, they offer three types of sheng jian bao – Classical Flavour, Nice To Meet U and Kimchi with Prawn.
I know, I don’t quite understand the names either but they’re essentially classic, cheese and well, kimchi with prawn.
Wanting a taste of everything, I ordered the Mixed Sheng Jian ($12.50, two of each flavour). I was quite pleased with the size of each sheng jian bao, they were rather substantial and looked very inviting.
And as much as I wanted to sink my teeth into one, I had to let them cool down for a while because they came piping hot.
I started with the Classical Flavour (perhaps they’re fans of Beethoven). It was just as a good sheng jian bao should be – crisp, golden brown skin that tapers to a soft, tender tip that seals the bao. Peeling the skin open, I was greeted by a small pool of broth and a huge chunk of minced meat.
The broth was aromatic and boasted a strong umami flavour, while the meat was well-seasoned and delightfully tender. The aroma of spring onions permeated the bao, delivering a nice sweetness and adding a crisp flavour to the dish.
I loved the textural contrast between the fried/non-fried skin and the succulent meat. It was quite an interesting sensation!
I moved on to something more appropriately named, the Kimchi with Prawn. As its name suggests, this is stuffed with kimchi and prawn instead of the usual minced meat.
Equal parts spicy and sour, the kimchi had a great flavour. It complemented the sweet prawn very well, and I especially loved the crunchy texture of the kimchi and prawn combined. I did find this particular bao a little too dry, but it wasn’t much of an issue for me.
It was time for my palate to be introduced to Nice To Meet U. I expected to be greeted with ooey-gooey mozzarella cheese when I bit into the bao, but was rather disappointed when all I got was a stale, sort of stinky cheddar cheese, and a prawn.
To this bao I say, it wasn’t nice to meet you at all, for you were oily and smelly. A big no-no.
With the cheese sheng jian bao being quite the letdown, I decided that I had enough sheng jian bao and wanted something different.
Thus, I ordered the Sirloin Noodles ($7.50), otherwise known as 快快长大保护妈妈牛腩面 , which roughly translates to ‘Quickly Grow Up and Protect Your Mother Beef Noodles’. I actually guffawed at the name.
Well, I suppose I can’t judge the dish by its name. But these noodles were pretty decent. The la mian was springy yet tender, while the beef broth carried a strong beef essence and an excellent depth of flavour, making this bowl of noodles truly slurp-worthy!
Not to mention, the beef sirloin was marvellously tender and boasted a robust flavour. Perhaps treating your mother to a bowl of this is more appropriate, and I’d definitely recommend you do that.
To be completely honest, although the food at Mr. Sheng Jian was enjoyable, I don’t think I’ll be going back for a second visit. It’s quite difficult to properly enjoy a meal in an environment that is so noisy and disorganised, with waiters that don’t quite bother to make sure you receive proper service.
Perhaps order takeout if you’re really keen on the food, and bring along someone who can speak Mandarin!
Expected damage: $7 – $13 per pax