By Tan Ching Yee
“Eh, today eat what ah?” Your friend asks, walking out of the seminar room. Famished after a tiring lesson, you run through the possibilities. Salad? Chicken Rice? Cai Fan? It seems that all options have already been exhausted. But don’t worry! If you are craving for something new, here are three new food stalls and menus on campus to try out.
1. Fine Food Ban Mian
Location: Fine Food @ South Spine
Background: Set up only a few months ago, Fine Food Ban Mian has already made a name for itself with its variety of delicious noodle options. Furthermore, its owners are amiable — the lady at the counter is personable and friendly, which makes ordering and receiving your food a pleasant experience.
A lot of work goes into whipping up just one bowl of noodles as well. The cook kneads and shapes the dough manually by hand. What’s more, health-conscious people will rejoice – the soup that the stall sells does not contain MSG! Instead, it is broiled with pork bone for hours on end in order to achieve a rich, natural flavour.
- Spinach Seafood Soup (Signature Dish) – $4.80
- Spinach Double Egg Soup – $3.80
- Spinach Ban Mian (Dry/Soup) – $3.80
- Spinach You Mian (Dry/Soup) – $3.80
- Spinach Mee Hoon Kway (Dry/Soup) – $3.80
- Spinach Yee Mian (Dry/Soup) – $3.80
- Fishball Kway Teow (Dry/Soup) – $3.80
I ordered Dry Spinach Ban Mian (No. 3) and fell in love immediately. For anyone who loves banmian, eating from this place is worth a try.
Within the bowl, there was a half-boiled egg
Any veteran dry banmian lover knows that the first essential step is to mix all the ingredients up before digging in. Doing this spreads the ingredients and sauces evenly throughout the bowl, coating the noodles.
My first bite was a pleasant surprise. The noodles mixed with the chili provided more flavour than expected. Chewy, with a little firmness to the bite, the silky noodles held an excellent texture.
The flavour or umami was also consistent throughout, but you need to mix the chilli well to achieve this. Its texture and flavour, coupled with the fact that I was hungry, made me quickly devour the whole bowl.
Other ingredients such as the mushrooms and ikan bilis enhanced the variety of the dish. The ikan bilis was crunchy and savoury – a welcome contrast to the soft texture of the silken noodles.
Overall (Price + Taste) : At $3.80 for a bowl of banmian and soup, the price seemed reasonable to me. Overall, it tasted great too but I recommend ordering it with chili. I would rate this store a 4/5!
2. Crespion Thai Store Mookata
Location: Crescent Pioneer Canteen
Background: Although this famous Thai store is not new in NTU, their Mookata menu certainly is! Launched only in January and taking off after school re-opened post-circuit breaker, this menu has quickly become a favourite among NTU students.
Menu/Price: You can choose from three set menus. They are mainly segmented by pax/group. For the meat and vegetables, the prices are all discounted.
Additionally, there is an “add-on” or a la carte menu, with the respective prices listed below.
Taste/review: The taste of the food from the Mookata menu is not what you would expect. The soup base of chicken stock does not have a strong MSG flavour like other Mookata stores outside of campus.
In my opinion, the soup went well with the grilled meats, instant noodle and rice. I also found the soup’s light flavour to be the highlight of the dish. The vegetables tasted fresh as well.
When we went there, my friends ordered the standard assortment of meat including sliced pork, pork belly, sliced beef and luncheon meat. There was a rather large variety of ingredients to choose from.
Overall (Price + Taste): The Mookata at Crespion is the perfect food to enjoy with friends after a long day. Eating Mookata together is a great bonding activity as everyone gathers to share conversations and laughter.
While the taste of the broth is not very strong, its wide assortment of ingredients makes for a fun dinner. I would rate the Crespion Thai Store Mookata a 3/5.
3. Fine Food Nasi Padang
Location: Fine Food @ South Spine
Background: The store opened in mid-January and the set menu of the stall was created by the owners’ son. All priced between $3.00 - $5.50, their food options are extremely affordable.
If you are searching for a filling meal, then consider this! For $4.20, I had my fill and was satisfied.
Taste/review: I bought the curry chicken with achar set. My first impression was that the chili was sweet, spicy and salty all at once.
The achar was sour with a tinge of sweetness. The cucumbers were packed with flavour and its rich savouriness was balanced out with the plain white rice.
Additionally, the curry was rich and creamy, with hints of lemongrass. Accompanying it was the chicken which was well-broiled and seasoned with the curry. The texture was not overly tender or tough.
Simplicity was key in this meal, featuring cucumber, achar, curry chicken, and a fried egg. All in all, the dish made for quite a dynamic meal!
Overall (Price + Taste) : I appreciated that the owners kept the dish affordable despite including a generous amount of meat and other ingredients. The meal was definitely a hearty one! Overall, a 4/5.
As a foodie, these three stalls certainly spiced up my lunch and dinner experiences. The next time you’re searching for something to eat, why not head on down to these locations?
This article is the first of a two-part series featuring new food options in NTU. Look out for the second part coming to you in January 2021!