Hi Makan Kakis! This week, we welcome a new Foodie Friend, whose Modern European restaurant on Dempsey Hill features lots of Asian touches and beautiful ceramics designed and created by the chef himself, Heman Tan. The co-owner and chef of Moonbow has an interesting story to tell, in the beautiful plates of food he creates and also on a personal level. His is a story of overcoming dyslexia and other obstacles in life to get where he is today – doting family man, triathlete, ceramics artist, celebrated chef and mentor to his team in the Moonbow kitchen. He shares a little bit of that story in our 2-part podcast and also recommends a delicious hawker favourite of his.
- Click to listen/download podcast – Chef Heman explains his Ironman moniker, his ceramic art and approach to food at Moonbow (Part 1).
- Click to listen/download podcast – Chef Heman reveals the first dish he ever cooked, who his culinary heroes are, heaven & hell ingredients,as well as his dream dinner party scenario (Part 2).
- Click to listen/download podcast – Chef Heman recommends his long-time favourite, Dry Pork Rib Prawn Noodles!
Chef Heman’s recommendation is part nostalgia, part pragmatic and AAAALL delicious! He loves prawn noodles, especially if there’s the added bonus of pork ribs. His go-to place for his bakut hae mee fix? A stall he’s been patronising since his younger days spent hanging out in the Tiong Bahru & Redhill areas.
Located in the now-famous Tiong Bahru Market & Food Centre, Min Nan Pork Ribs Prawn Noodle has been there for many years and Chef Heman has seen how they’ve evolved. He recalls buying satay from them back in the day, but now their focus is on prawn noodles, with the very welcome addition of pork ribs. And for Chef Heman, it always has to be the dry version. For one, it’s absolutely delicious but his main reason was of a more pragmatic nature.
It’s all about time, or the lack thereof! Chef Heman’s initial choice of dry noodles with a little soup on the side was really because he was always in a rush. He needed a meal that was fast – “chop-chop, eat and go”. Indeed, it’s a quick, easy, delicious and practical meal that really hits the spot.
Chef Heman confesses to a weakness for lard, which Min Nan are generous with (although the lard and shallots don’t exactly stay crispy if you do a takeaway. But still, the flavour and fragrance is incredible). Another important element they get right is their chilli paste, the balance of which is properly managed. Very aromatic and not too spicy, but just enough kick to tickle your tastebuds in the most pleasant way. Umami, deeply shrimpy, pops of garlic and shallot the combination creates a tasty sauce that clings lovingly to every strand of noodle. Speaking of which, Chef Heman loves the combination of yellow noodles and bee hoon for chewiness and texture (plus that hint of alkaline flavour).
The noodles are all cooked perfectly al dente and each $5 portion comes with two generously meaty pork ribs and two prawns (one big & one small), along with beansprouts and a little kang kong. Not to mention the lard and shallots that infuse the dish with a mouth-watering fragrance.
As for the soup on the side, Chef Heman describes it as “strong, fragrant with a little natural sweetness from prawn shells”. What Denise likes is the delicate play between the prawn and pork flavours. There’s the briny, umami, taste of the sea from the crustacean base, with just a hint of meatiness from the pork giving the soup a robust richness. But overall, nothing too overpoweringly porky or cloyingly heavy.
Check out the generously-sized pork rib – not tough, but with enough bite to yield lots of meaty goodness. And that juicy prawn! Yes, it’s a bit fiddly if you dislike getting your hands dirty deshelling, but the shells are where all the flavour is, so worth it!
Min Nan Pork Ribs Prawn Noodle serves up one super-scrumptious experience, worth the trip to Tiong Bahru for a takeaway. And what better time than now, when dine-ins aren’t allowed – let’s support our local hawkers through this phase of the Covid-19 pandemic!
Min Nan Pork Ribs Prawn Noodle
#02-31 Tiong Bahru Market
30 Seng Poh Rd, S(168898)
Open Tues – Sun: 8.30am – 8.30pm (closed Mon)
Also available for delivery via WHYQ.
*** BONUS! ***
Highlights of Chef Heman’s beautiful creations at Moonbow, which are currently available for takeaway or delivery during Phase 2 Heightened Alert.
* Photos in Moonbow restaurant taken before start of May 16 Phase 2 Heightened Alert.