I asked why so many are queuing for THAT Chinatown soy sauce chicken and with her most diplomatic answer, I learned a new thing, “Don’t ask me, I have not tried, but in a good version, the marinate doesn’t just sit on the skin, but mine goes into the flesh too.”, and I thought I saw Mdm Annie Cheong wink as she smiled. A good soy sauce chicken noodle, in my books, (and mind you, I have tried many, including in chicken noodle homeland Guangzhou in China) must have a few signature checkpoints- the noodle must have that springy resilience (known a “qq” in new gen speak) that is not necessarily undercooked, but made that way. The chicken should be ultra smooth and perfumed with a rich dark, herbed and spiced soy sauce. The noodle sauce-should be cooked with soy sauce, both dark and light, herbed and perfumed with a dash of sesame and fried shallot lard oils. So I lined up for her Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle (from $3.30) and it checked out in so many ways and more. I did not see the usual row of dark shiny soy sauce chicken hung and lit up at stall front, instead Annie strung up just one or two and placed the other in a pot of her secret recipe soy sauce, soaking in all that goodness, till it’s time to be served. Firstly the chicken- it did not look like much, but I could taste the herbed soy beyond the flesh, it was light, juicy and very smooth. The noodles were as described and the sauce did not overwhelm although it had a little smear of sambal blended in.
Then she brought out the order of sui kao or prawn dumplings soup ($3.30). I took a bite off the huge sui kao and I had that “Matrix’ moment where everything stopped momentarily and I could see and sense all about me. I sensed at least two decent sized crunchy sweet prawns inside, held with minced pork and further textured with black woodear fungus. The sound of the each bite was like my favourite Motown hit and the texture and flavour was the double base and saxophone solo. Suddenly I realised I never had any sui kao as good as this..in my life. I can taste this as I write. Seriously it’s that good and beyond the flavours and textures I could sense the authenticity and sincerity of Mdm Annie and her daughter Wei Wei in making the meal. It is not easy to get it all right and on point, day in and out. Kudos to them and I will be back for my fourth time soon.
And folks with Christmas around the corner, I like to remind all that there are no rules saying we must eat turkey. In fact countries around the world do it their style, like babi putar (roast pig) in Manado, Indonesia or fish in some European countries. The main thing is to have our family and good friends gathered and be grateful for the blessings ..and eat whatever you like. Your main meat to carve or chop can be roast duck, whole soy sauce or tandoori chicken, a large whole baked salmon with whatever sauce, even a suckling pig. I wish you all a blessed Christmas and festive season ahead.
Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Noodles
04-51, Beauty World Shopping Centre
114, Upper Bukit Timah Road.
11am-6pm closed on Wednesday