Following the footsteps of many hawker brands that have since branched out of their traditional stalls and burst into the restaurant scene, Wah Kee is no exception. As a pioneer of big prawn noodles, they have been around for quite awhile now, but have just recently opened up their flagship outlet at The Esplanade.
What sets Wah Kee apart from other similar stalls, is their unique broth that has a natural bright orange tint derived from the roe of wild green tiger prawns. This is definitely a refreshing change from the typical brown hue that is commonly seen in prawn noodle bowls.
The modernised 60-seater restaurant is a far cry from the hawker stall as it boasts a tasteful setting with wooden tables reminiscent of a roadside eatery. Not to mention, the quality service and air conditioning that you get when you patronise this outlet.
Does this mural look familiar? Well, this is in fact a portrayal of the original stall at Pek Kio market. Certainly a great way to pay tribute to their roots and remind themselves of where they came from.
To ensure the high quality of their offerings, they only source for wild prawns which are said to be significantly tastier and cleaner. The natural freshness alone makes them superior to other prawn varieties.
As the recommended size, their Large Big Prawn Noodle ($20) is priced the same as the one from Pek Kio market and essentially tastes similar, upholding their reputation of being consistent throughout. Available in both dry and soup options, we went with the dry mee kia noodles.
Specially made for Wah Kee, their signature mee kia (egg noodles) was thin and springy when lifted up. It was just the right amount of firm, and wasn’t overcooked at all.
The best part was that it absorbed the flavours of the sauce and bits of pork lard thrown into the mix. Just stir a bit of sambal into the noodles and it will make for a pleasant chew.
We wanted to go all out so we ordered the large portion as opposed to the smaller one which, might not have the same robust flavour due to the smaller prawns served.
Simmered for a good period of time, the seafood broth managed to retain a strong shellfish taste as it does not include any elements of pork bone commonly found in prawn noodle soup. In addition, I found it to be an adequate balance of savoury and sweet. It’s safe to say that the quality mirrors that of the original stall.
The prawns were nothing short of fresh and made for a crunchy delight with the abundant prawn roe packed inside.
Do not underestimate this spicy sauce base. Made in-house daily using a recipe that has been passed down for decades, the sambal chilli sauce made for an excellent dip with the prawns. It served to enhance the flavour of the fresh and juicy crustaceans, for sure.
We wanted to see what all the fuss was about their Extra Large Big Prawn Noodle ($30) so naturally we went for that, as well. These prawns were definitely bigger than average. I can see why people would opt for this as the prawns were significantly meatier and sweeter than the previous one we had. Strangely enough, this broth tasted richer too.
We paired this with the same mee kia noodles but with their robust soup instead. Personally, I preferred the dry alternative better. Perhaps I felt that the taste of the freshly fried shallots and pork lard was more prominent in the dry combination.
While this may be an extension of the original hawker stall, their tasty prawn noodles will always remain a constant. Now their noodles can not only be extended to a wider market but also be preserved for generations to come.
Aside from prawn noodles, Wah Kee is looking at bringing in other seafood items for a wider selection. This should come as no surprise as their partner also happens to be in charge of Tomo Izakaya. These other menu items include the Boston lobsters and oysters from Canada, France and the US.
As the restaurant continues to flourish, operations for the stall at Pek Kio Market will continue to run as per normal.
Expected damage: $20 – $30