Friday, 10 January 2014

Qiu Lian Ban Mian @ Jurong East Westgate

Qiu Lian Ban Mian at Westgate

I remember I had my very first bowl of Ban Mian from Qiu Lian Ban Mian (秋莲板面) some twenty years ago during my schooling days in the 90s.

Ban Mian is a traditional noodle dish with Hakka origins (some say Hokkien) and it is Qiu Lian who introduces it to the masses in Singapore.

Well, I could be wrong though but I do not recall seeing any other Ban Mian stalls around prior my first bowl at Qiu Lian.

It was only after sometime that other Ban Mian stalls began sprouting all over the island when the dish became popular and gained a foothold in the local food scene.

At that time, the novelty of seeing your noodle being handmade (with the pasta machine) in front of you was something new to me and the chewy texture of the noodles was a refreshing change from the usual Mee Pok, Mee Kia, Kway Teow, etc...

I like it so much that I would have a simmering bowl of Qiu Lian Ban Mian at the stall near my house a few times each week. 

Imagine how devastated I was when the stall suddenly closed down without a word! I eventually found another Qiu Lian stall at Marina Square when the food-court was still at the basement.

I had had my very last bowl of Qiu Lian Ban Mian sometime after year 2000 but that stall too disappeared when the mall underwent a major facelift.

Since then, I have been resorting to eating other Ban Mee whenever the crave for the soupy dish arise but non could satisfy me like Qiu Lian can.

Recently, I learned that there is a Qiu Lian Ban Mian stall at the newly opened Westgate Mall and I wasted no time in making my way down!

As I ate a mouthful of the noodles, I almost wanted to put down my chopsticks immediately.

This is not the good old Qiu Lian Ban Mian I was so obsessed with years ago.

The soup was not as robust as it used to be and the egg yolk was also overcooked instead of being runny.

The chili, which I usually take two saucers of, is no longer shiok. I do not want to touch the current chili after one dip.

At $4.20 per bowl, it was a startling increase from the previous $2.50 (or was it $3?). Want more of that crispy Ikan Bilis? That would be another $1.

It is very upsetting that my favorite Qiu Lian Ban Mian - the pioneer of all Ban Mian in Singapore - has lost its touch. Not only did the standard drop, the price even increase!

I guess when businesses branch out, it is difficult to control the quality.

Someday, should Qiu Lian regain her former glory, I would gladly have another bowl of nostalgia but for now, I can only wait for that day to arrive.

I just hope Qiu Lian does not take too long.


The Verdict?
2.5/5

WESTGATE
3 Gateway Drive
#B1-28/29 (Food Republic)
Jurong East
Singapore 608532


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