Chinese New Year is running its course, tomorrow being the last of the 15 days: You have one more day to get your yu sheng (raw fish salad).
Zhenjie’s version is pretty decent. The stall is in the central area of the newly refurbished Chinatown hawker centre. It’s hard to miss with the bright lights and garish signs, even if you can’t read Chinese characters.
I was out with my mum and aunts and we had the $24 ikan parang version. I liked that they gave enough lime to give a good sour kick and plenty of ground toasted peanuts for a satisfying nutty taste. This is one unhealthy salad, with too much oil from both the dressing and the crispy flour bits, too much sugar from the plum sauce and the candied wintermelon, and too much food colouring from the almost fluorescent red and green bits. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of this unhealthy salad, it’s one of the better yu sheng I’ve had this season.
We moved on to lunch proper at An Ji (Stall #02-194). Lucky thing we had a late lunch. The crowds had cleared by then and we saved ourselves a 30-minute wait. While this place is famous for steamed song fish, we’ve never ordered that. None of us like the muddy taste of the freshwater fish.
We went for the yu peen sang meen (fish slices with crispy noodles) and the ngau hor (beef with flat rice noodles) instead. The yu peen sang meen is amazing stuff. They deep-fry the sang meen to order and they use the finer version too. The effect was seriously crispy noodles crumbling in my mouth with a satisfying crunch. Even after sitting for a while in the sauce, the noodles were still crunchy and didn’t collapse into a soft mass like inferior versions. The black bean sauce was smoky and yummy, with plenty of wok hei and the sang yu (snakehead fish) was of course fresh. It would’ve been even better with cut chilli, but they only provided chilli padi and I was too lazy to ask for normal chilli. The only grouse I had was that the sauce was on the salty side. Will have to remember to make a special request next time.
An Ji really knows how to treat its noodles. I’d initially had reservations about the horfun because it looked too white, they hadn’t dry-fried the horfun beforehand. On the first bite, I was sold. The horfun was soft and yielding as my teeth sank into the noodle yet had a bouncy bite towards the end. The only term to describe is really with the Taiwanese coinage “Q.” It was a revelation that horfun can be this good. The sauce had a robust beef flavour and got extra depth from the black bean sauce. It was smoky with wok hei as expected. The downside was that they’d marinated the beef slices in bicarbonate of soda, giving them an odd spongy texture.
Go grab your noodles from here, though don’t rush because they’ll sell it past Chinese New Year.