Mention “hawker” and an image of an old uncle in a singlet cooking over a hot stove usually comes to mind. Sadly, not many youngsters nowadays are willing to take on the job of being a hawker and slaving over the stove. I can understand why, after all, being in the food industry is tough work.
So when Red Ring Wanton Mee was born in 2013 by a young chemical undergraduate, many food bloggers picked up the story. What was interesting is that the young chap actually used what he learnt in school to apply to creating his own unique wanton mee. For example, he brought in a Japanese machine to cook the noodles to perfection and he used some instruments to analyse and perfect his unique sauce.
Many blog reviews have been giving praise to Red Ring’s sauce and their fried wantons. But it’s either I do not know how to appreciate Red Ring, or that their standards have dropped since those reviews in 2013. I was at the original outlet in Holland Drive together with ZH and my dad, so we purposely ordered 3 different dishes: the original spicy noodles ($3), the original non-spicy noodles ($3) and the prawn dumpling noodles ($4).
The prawn dumplings (虾角) were freshly fried and filled with juicy prawns, the noodles were nicely cooked without the alkaline taste. The vegetables were, however, cold – I think they should at least blanch it in boiling water again.
The original wanton noodles was just meh for me. The fried wantons were miserably small! Couldn’t taste the filling at all. The charsiew, touted to be really good, just tasted like normal roast. It didn’t have the signature sweet charsiew taste, and the colour was not appealing too. The “red ring” sauce wasn’t fantastic in OUR opinions. In fact, we had much preferred the non-spicy sauce – it was full of umami goodness, and reminded me of Mee Kolo.
I wonder if I had missed the best of Red Ring because I wanted to like it. Do let me know if you have any recommendations for good wanton mee!