I am at a lost as to which name to call this stall selling pork ribs prawn noodles at Tiong Bahru Market.
The word 閩南 (Min Nan) is splashed across the signboard quite prominently yet beside it are the words 抢摊排骨虾面. So, should I call them 閩南排骨虾面 or 抢摊排骨虾面?
The latter is due to their participation on the channel 8 reality show "Buzzing Cashier" (抢摊大行动) years ago when the program engaged a chef to teach the stall owner how to cook prawn noodles the right way to save his ailing business.
The business was eventually revived when they received a high score of 30/30.
You can have your Pork Ribs Prawn Noodles either soup or dry ($4.50/$5.50) but if pork ribs are not your thing, you can still order the good old Prawn Noodles also available in soup or dry ($3/$4). If you are more adventurous, you can opt for the Pig Tail Soup ($4/5).
I decided to order the Pork Ribs Prawn Noodles dry which comes with two prawns and 1 1/3 pork ribs. I say 1 1/3 is because the second piece is 1/3 the size of the first piece.
The presentation looks promising especially after a sprinkle of the red chili powder. I love the yellow noodles after a good stir with the sauce. It is a little oily but all is forgiven since it is so enjoyable.
How did the pork ribs and prawns fare then?
The fall-off-the-bone ribs is so tender it did not put up a fight at all. The meat simply slide off the bone cleanly. The prawns were a disappointment though as it did not have the 'crunch' I liked in the crustacean. I think the stall used farmed prawns which are cheaper than sea prawns.
We have now come to the main focus of prawn noodles - the soup. Unfortunately, the umami flavour is so weak it tastes like watered-down soup that I had to stop drinking after two mouthfuls. It is really lacking the robustness of prawn soup. If the prawn soup is the soul of prawn noodles, then, I would say this bowl of soup had no soul at all.
I do like the noodles and the pork ribs but I hope they can put more effort in the soup.