One of the best things about my little city state, is the abundance of amazing food that can be had for as little as $5. As much as I may seem to indulge (or really, as occasionally as my budget will allow) in fancy schmansy restaurants, I will always return to the local hawker fare. It's my comfort food, my "happy food" if you will; the familiarity of hawker cuisine, to me, is entwined with my roots, my Singaporean identity. Hawker food here is world-class, and something that I would miss most about Singapore if I'm ever away, because I could never replicate the same in my kitchen.
Geylang, for all of its vice as "an overcrowded slum with a thriving underworld" (and shitty parking), is a vibrant trove of food gems, sights and smells. It's where we regularly take-away our hokkien mee, duck rice, and seafood cze char. And now, to add on to that list, is ban mian. Or the local answer to Chinese la mian.
Ban mian is not a dish ubiquitous in many hawker centres, and it doesn't quite get as much "airtime" as popular foods like char kway teow or chicken rice. But I like it. To clarify, I'm not so much a fan of handmade noodles, but I love the frills: the egg-drop pork mince broth, the blanched choy sum, the fried shallots, the fried ikan bilis, the mince. I'd heard about this ban mian stall that attracted snaking half hour-long lines, which was surprising coz I've never heard of ban mian being a dish that was queue-worthy at all.
And indeed the queues are right, the ban mian here at L32 Handmade Noodles may be the best on our island. I mean, we promptly ordered another 2 portions to pack for home as soon as we licked up every last drop of that glorious soup. There's a variety of noodles, from chicken to sliced pork to meatballs to prawns, and even clams, but I found the classics better.
The Meatball Dry Ban Mian ($5) was slicked in a dark soy-based sauce, flecked with hints of sweetness, and topped with lashings of shallots and ikan bilis crisps, was excellent. The meatballs were soft and springy, the pork mince fresh and delicate, and the noodles, while thick, were delightfully chewy. There's also an egg-drop soup siding the noodles that was 'sedap'.
The Prawn Soup ($5) which we got sans noodles, was exquisite as well, but it would have been nice(r) if the prawns were deshelled. The prawns lent an umami sweetness to the pork-based broth.
L32 Handmade Noodles
558 Geylang Road (Lorong 32)
Tel: 9770 2829
Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 11.30am to 9.30pm