Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Grandma Ban Mee 老妈子板面 @ Amoy Street: Super Shiok Chilli Noodles!

Next time if I were to open a stall, I will put my papa or mama or ah ma or ah gong's name into the signboard because I think it will help to pull in more business. Think Ah Gong Bak Kut Teh or Mama's Pasta. Yet another stall is named after Grandma, but it doesn't just leverage on Grandma's cooking powers because the noodles are truly terrific.

Lao Ma Zi Ban Mee is a new stall that opened last Dec 2015 at Amoy street. With the red signboard and cartoonish white Chinese characters "老妈子”, I thought this was a stall selling spicy Sichuan cuisine until I took a closer look at this menu. It's simple and fuss-free with only 3 options (Chilli/ Dry/Soup) and additional toppings come at extra charge.
The signature dry chilli ban mee ($5) looked very similar to the Kin Kin Chili Pan Mee but I think Grandma has won on both quality and quantity. The noodles boasted a springier, chewier texture than the limpy ones from Kin Kin. Although the key flavor booster-chili paste- was saltier and less fiery than the dry pan-roasted chilli flakes from Kin Kin, I could feel the heat of the chili when they were mixed through the noodles and poached eggs thoroughly. 

In addition, it had a stronger punch of the hae bee (虾米) (you could smell it in your breath after the meal) which added more oomph to the bowl. The sensational slick mouthfeel, counteracted with the crunchy anchovies that were much bigger in size and thus more satisfying. 
Sometimes, I can't help but compare chili ban mee to Bak Chor Mee, my another favourite local food. Chilli ban mee is just like BCM without the vinegar but spammed with lots of chili, but why does it draw people back for more? I think it's simply because chilli ban mee is already a brilliant formula on its own--chilli, noodles, ikan bilis, shallots--what's there not to like? It's a success recipe for business, possibly explaining why Kin Kin is so famous and this five-month old Grandma Ban Mee is no exception. 
Most people would go for the dry Chilli ban Mee and I am one of those. I usually assumed that the broth of the soup version ($4) taste the same as the small bowl of soup that tagged along with the dry version but I was proved wrong, in a good way.

The broth had an extra layer of sweetness from the ikan billis and mushrooms, with just the right amount of seasoning that won't incur any MSG intoxication symptoms after the meal. With silvers of black fungus and fresh leafy greens, the soup ban mian completely erased my stereotypical image of soup noodles as boring and flavorless. 

It's just as beautiful as the Chilli Ban Mee. But first, you've got to battle the OL (office ladies) and SM (salarymen) for a taste of grandma if you choose to drop by during peak lunch hours. 

Grandma Ban Mee  老妈子板面
Amoy Street #01-07
Mon-Fri 10.30am-2pm
(who say grandma don't know how to use facebook?)

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