When we are talking about Joo Chiat Wanton Mee saga, the actual battleground isn’t really well, at Joo Chiat. Instead we tell the tale from Whampoa Food Market.
In the middle of Whampoa Food market, there are two stores selling Wanton Mee, and coincidently both stores claimed to be the first store to sell Wanton Mee from Joo Chiat. With the constant renovation, or rental problems, food stores are constantly on the move, and this cause a major problem when we lose track of where our favourite hawker store shifted to.
Joo Chiat Lane Wanton Mee (#01-60) says that they have start selling Wanton Mee in Joo Chiat since the 1960s, while Wanton Mee store 1.90 (see below) also maintains that they are from Joo Chiat and have re-located to Whampoa Market, earlier than Joo Chiat Lane Wanton Mee.
The rivalry arises when both stores claimed to be the undisputed No1 store from Joo Chiat, and LIC brings you to taste both the Wanton Mee to find out who really is the better deal!
Joo Chiat Lane Wanton Mee ($2.50/$3)
The main criterias for a good plate of Wanton mee are without a doubt, the noodle, the char-siew, and the wanton. Personally if the noodles are really good, i will like the store even if the char-siew and wanton are average. In the case of Joo Chiat Lane, the texture noodle is quite smooth and flavorful, coupled with the chili its actually quite good.
The char siew from Joo Chiat Lane store is your lean juicy type, and they pack quite a punch if you like your char siew lean and tender.
The wanton at Joo Chiat Lane store is also bigger and has more ingredients than your average wanton.
Next up we have the Wanton Mee store 1.90. Prices wise they have more variation with the cheapest at 2 bucks. Where else can you find a bowl of wanton mee at 2 bucks nowadays? Rare. This is one of the point which they won the dual. Having a big advertisement with TV Variety show “Hawker food lost & found” at your store will likely gain you more benefits than harm.
Wanton Mee store 1.90 ($2/2.50/3)
Comparing both noodles, i’ll actually say that i prefer Joo Chiat Lane’s noodle to store 1.90. The noodle from store 1.90 isn’t bouncy and springy enough, and its really too dry considering that it just arrived on my table.
The Char siew at store 1.90 is totally different to the one at Joo Chiat Lane. While the latter one comes in the lean version, the one at store 1.90 has slightly more fatty meat in its char-siew. I actually prefer my char siew to have some fatty meat as it will provide more crunch to the taste.
This can actually be very subjective as some people prefer lean one, while some like me like the char siew to be slightly fatter. Anyway, the char siew at store 1.90 does it for me.
The wanton at store 1.90, is well quite pathetic. Hardly any ingredient inside, i wonder do they do the wanton for the sake of doing really.
Rounding off the Joo Chiat Wanton Mee Saga, LIC will say that noodle wise, Joo Chiat Lane win the contest with its more springy and flavourful noodles. For the char-siew however, LIC prefer store 1.90 fatty ones to Joo Chiat lane’s lean type. And wanton, Joo Chiat Lane win hands-down.
Actually i do believe that there is really no point in debating for the first store from Joo Chiat, so long both stores are doing a good job feeding their customers, thats the spirit to go! The past is after all the past, why not focus on doing better wanton mee instead?
Its a rather tough call to separate the two stores, but it really depends on what you look for in your wanton mee. And again taste is subjective, so what LIC likes might not necessary for the same for you. Do go down to Whampoa Market to try both stores and be the judge yourself!
Whampoa Food Market
Block 90 Whampoa Drive