Famous ke kou mian from Hai Xian Zhu Zhou
Though many argue that food is a subjective topic, I can quite safely say that instant noodles is one of the few food items that is almost impossible for anyone to hate on – I am no exception. If not for the horrifying health facts that often accompany instant noodles, I am sure Maggie mee would not be a once-in-a-blue-moon treat for me.
After putting off and resisting the desire to try the famous ke kou mian from Bukit Panjang’s Hai Xian Zhu Zhou, I finally gave in when I realised they also have a stall that is much nearer to my home. This one is found at Yishun!
Food at Hai Xian Zhu Zhou
Hai Xian Zhu Zhou serves a wider variety of porridge than koka noodles but judging by the number of koka noodle bowls seen on the tables at the kopitiam, the latter seems to be their more popular dish. While we were there, we tried three of their noodle dishes, the first being Pork Koka Noodles ($3).
Within less than five minutes after I made my order, a young hawker brought the noodles to my table and the portion definitely exceeded my expectations. The koka noodles were hardly visible as the top was entirely covered with vegetables, lean pork meat, minced meat, and huge layers of pig’s liver.
Eager to find out what makes their instant noodles different from those that I can cook at home, I quickly tried a spoonful of their soup. Even though I didn’t know what to expect before I tried the soup, I was still taken aback by how intensely flavoured it was. That being said, the saltiness was not overwhelming. Alongside a strong meat taste, the sweetness of the vegetables also came out surprisingly strong. While the first spoonful was shockingly intense, I slowly took a liking to it.
Just as I thought the soup was salty, I tried the noodles. Given the hype surrounding the koka noodles, I was expecting to be welcomed by some sort of extraordinary texture. However, the first thing that hit me was how salty the noodles were. Unlike the soup, the noodles were too intense for my liking. Texture-wise, they were not too soft or hard, and every spoonful had an enjoyable mouthfeel.
Together with the generous amount of well-marinated meat, the bowl was tasty, comforting, and definitely value-for-money. The sun was relentless when we were there but if it were a rainy day, I can imagine how satisfying the piping hot bowl of noodles would be.
The second bowl that we tried was their Seafood Ee-Mee ($5.50). For this one, the aroma was hard to miss. Like the pork koka noodles, the ingredients were plenty. With a heap of ee-mee sitting at the bottom, the bowl was brimming with three large prawns, thick fish slices, pieces of cuttlefish, and lean pork meat.
For the soup, the taste of meat was unmistakable and with the seafood in it, the flavour was also enhanced with a slight sweetness. The freshness of the prawns was prominent in the soup, along with a hint of the ee-mee taste. For a stall not specialising in seafood soup, I was pleased at how well-executed it was.
Compared to the koka noodles, the ee-mee absorbed the soup less well. However, that was what I preferred as the ee-mee had its own taste which was lighter, and complemented the soup.
Although $5.50 may be a steep price for a bowl of noodles served at a hawker stall, the huge amount of seafood justifies the price. The de-shelled prawns were chewy and also surprisingly sweet.
As for the fish slices, I was impressed by how thick the slices were. However, the taste was not consistent as some pieces were fresh and springy while others were repulsively fishy.
On to the last dish, we tried their Tom Yum Koka Noodle ($3.20). Compared to the first two bowls, the tom yum soup was much more concentrated. Bright red, the appearance of the soup scared me a little at first.
When I tried the soup however, it was not the spiciness that hit me, but the saltiness and sourness of the soup. Although tom yum lovers would argue that that is how the soup should be like, this one was so intense that I could hardly bring myself to take a second mouthful.
The minced and lean meat that came in the soup were thoroughly marinated and tasty on their own. However, after soaking in the tom yum, the taste was again way too much for my palate. The koka noodles too, absorbed the soup quickly and within minutes, the bowl became a mushy mess. Even after ordering a cup of Milo peng from the drinks stall, I found it hard to continue eating the tom yum noodles as every bite was simply overwhelming.
Ambience at Hai Xian Zhu Zhou
A five-minute walk away from Yishun Temporary Interchange, Hai Xian Zhu Zhou is found in a busy kopitiam called Choh Dee Place. In the well-ventilated eatery, there were more than enough seats, even when it got crowded during the lunch hour. With the many ceiling fans installed at the coffee shop, we hardly perspired even when chomping down the piping hot bowls of noodles and overall, the setting was comfortable.
Even though there was a queue forming at about 12pm, the owners of the stall were efficient and we did not have to wait more than a few minutes for the food to be served to us.
After seeing so many Instagram posts about these simple yet comforting bowls of koka noodles, I am glad I finally got to try them. Even though the taste of the soup and noodles may be a little strong, I still enjoyed my overall experience there. The amount of ingredients found in each bowl of noodles was the highlight for me and for that, the noodles at Hai Xian Zhu Zhou are definitely a steal. Besides the tom yum noodles, I do see myself coming back to have another bowl or even head to the outlet at Bukit Panjang!
Address: 233 Yishun Street 21, #01-472, Choh Dee Place, Singapore 760233
Opening hours: Thur-Tue 6am to 3:30pm
Hai Xian Zhu Zhou is not a halal hawker stall.
This is an independent review by Eatbook.sg.