Ban mian is one of those things that can be savoured no matter the weather or mood. Rained in and chilly? Have a piping hot bowl of ban mian soup rounded to satisfaction by a perfectly poached egg. Feeling absolutely ravenous and ready to demolish a hearty, flavourful bowl of noodles? Right this way to your dry ban mian, extra noodles, extra chilli.
It’s the versatility of it all that makes ban mian so great for me—there’s just something so unfailing about a dish that can be enjoyed across many different soup bases, noodle types, and even cooking methods.
Xin Ban Mian along Sims Drive doesn’t shy away from using that to their full advantage. I chanced upon the unassuming food stall when I was across the road doing a pottery workshop with 8th Floor Creative Space. We ended just shy of 10pm, and Xin Ban Mian was the only thing open—it’s open 24 hours, in fact.
Here, you’ll find some modern takes on the traditional ban mian, with enough variety to satiate just about anyone.
What I tried
The Collagen Broth You Mian (S$8 for two bowls) comes with a tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken drumstick, boiled egg, and is topped with spring onion. Where have you seen this combination before, you ask? The milky, umami soup dish strikes me fondly as a local, reimagined twist on the traditional tonkotsu ramen.
Aside from the painfully soft chicken, I’m afraid to report that nothing else in the bowl was inspiring. I was looking for more depth of flavour and a fantastic savouriness of the broth, but all I got was a starchy, under-salted soup. Without the help of chilli or other forms of flavouring, it’s going to be hard to sit through the entirety of this one.
For those who aren’t already aware, all things mala in the office are sent my way because it’s but one of my many personality traits. Naturally, the Mala You Mian (S$5) goes onto my order list. Many would agree that a mala xiang guo pot isn’t complete without generous slabs of hypertension-inducing luncheon meat, and so that’s exactly what you’ll find in the bowl.
It’s hard to entirely fault the dish because it delivers exactly what it promises, just underwhelmingly. Aside from the fact that it could use more heat, if I were getting a bowl of mala noodles, I’d much rather have the option of customising my ingredients and spice level instead of this perfectly average bowl.
Even as I’m ordering the Goma Sauce Ban Mian (S$5), my dining partner already scoffs dismissively that it’s probably just noodles tossed in Kewpie roasted sesame dressing. I can’t say for certain if we’ve nailed the sauce brand, but it sure tastes like it.
This dish just feels like a lazily put-together afterthought at a steamboat gathering—you know, when you’ve had just enough broth and you’re beginning to look to just about any nearby sauce to concoct something different and switch things up.
Uninspiring seems to be a running theme at this place; many of the dishes sound like they hold much promise just solely based on their concepts, but execution falls terribly short.
It’s up to the Curry Chicken Noodle (S$5) to redeem them now. Just from its smell and appearance, it reminds me of traditional Chinese curry chicken, typically enjoyed with baguette bread for dipping.
“It’s essentially coffee shop curry png quality la,” laments my dining partner who, apparently, holds her curry in high regard. While I too adore all things spicy and savoury, I’m not picky with my curry. I generally appreciate curry of all types and forms, and so this bowl of curry noodles with mid-joint chicken wings is still tolerable in my books.
Cutting down on the oil would’ve done the dish many favours, however, because nobody wants to find the sauce and oil separating from each other halfway through the meal.
As with most wanton dishes, the plate of Fried Wanton (S$4) is crispy and addictive and is quite sadly the best thing out of the whole meal. Even then, using a tad more meat filling wouldn’t have hurt.
That’s twice in a row that I’m withholding my ‘Chef’s Kiss Awards’—only proving the sanctity it upholds. While I absolutely love giving credit where it is due, it’s just as disappointing when nothing rises up to be deserving of it.
Xin Ban Mian’s vision is clear—noodle dishes made novel with alternative soup bases. While commendable in terms of concept, I’m not quite sure that the final products live up to the promise. Better seasoned, more flavourful broths would’ve proven just enough to turn drab to fab.
Order delivery here.
Expected Damage: S$4 – S$5 per dish
Our Rating: 2 / 5
Xin Ban Mian
232 Sims Avenue, Singapore 387509
Xin Ban Mian
232 Sims Avenue, Singapore 387509