Shi Xiang Ge – Former Crystal Jade Chef Opens Yummy La Mian Stall
Meet Shi Xiang Ge, an unassuming stall specialising in Shanxi cuisine run by former Crystal Jade La Mian Director, Mr Liu Yi Zhong, at the kopitiam above Bishan bus interchange. Mr Liu began his culinary journey with la mian as a young boy, where he was fascinated with la mian at a noodles house. He got up the courage to ask the chef whether he could try making la mian, but ended up failing terribly at it. He then realised that making a good bowl of la mian requires much skill, and thus began his apprenticeship in mastering the art of making la mian. Mr Liu worked at many noodle houses and hotels in China for over ten years before coming to Singapore and joining Crystal Jade in 2000. He quickly rose through the ranks to become La Mian Director and travelled extensively to Crystal Jade’s various overseas branches to train budding chefs in the art of la mian making. In total, Mr Liu holds 28 years of experience in making la mian, with Beef La Mian being his specialty.
After hearing Mr Liu’s inspiring story, we ordered the Beef La Mian ($5), Minced Meat La Mian aka Zhajiang Mian ($5), Hot and Spicy Intestine Shaved Noodles ($5), Poached Szechuan Dumpling in Spicy Sauce ($5) and Meat Bun ($3.50).
The La Mian and Shaved Noodles are all handmade in Shi Xiang Ge. I found the shaved noodles to be the better of the two. Shaved to just the right thickness, the noodles are not clumpy and will not stick to your teeth unlike most others. As I have had multiple bad encounters with shaved noodles, I can safely say that Shi Xiang Ge really does a fantastic job when it comes to their dao xiao mian.
The three bowls of noodles that we ordered were perfect for three different kinds of eaters. If you are looking for a light and ‘healthier’ meal, go for the Beef La Mian. The la mian was really similar to Crystal Jade’s standard! Unlike Taiwanese beef noodles, where the soup is thicker and darker, the broth for the Beef La Mian at Shi Xiang Ge is clear but flavourful. Instead of huge beef chunks, expect generous amounts of thinly-sliced Chinese-style beef with a good mix of tendon and lean meat. Unlike most beef noodles in Singapore that uses pork bone as their soup base, Mr Liu prefers to stick to the beef noodles of his hometown and uses beef bones and meat for the flavourful beef stock. Although the broth might be slightly salty for some, we concluded that the Beef La Mian was a good, comforting bowl that will be lovely any day.
If you seek stronger flavours in your food, I’ll recommend the Zhajiang Mian. It was one of the few dry noodle options on the menu, and packed a flavourful punch in every mouthful. Don’t let the plain-looking la mian fool you — the finely chopped pieces of minced meat, tau kwa, and QQ bouncy noodles in the sweet and savoury brown gravy tasted excellent!
Mala lovers should definitely order the Hot and Spicy Intestine Shaved Noodles, which was my personal favourite. Imagine the gradual build up of heat and numbness (from the Sichuan peppercorn) on your lips that can only be described using one word: shiok!Besides the spiciness, the Hot and Spicy Intestine Shaved Noodles also had a lavish serving of fei chang, also known as intestines. I am a big fan of fei chang but the kind found at kway chap stalls usually put me off because of their leanness. The intestines used at Shi Xiang Ge are fat and juicy, and bore that unique fragrance (or some say pungence) associated with intestinal parts. If you are up for a spicy challenge and don’t mind numb lips for an hour, give this a shot!
I usually order the standard Pork and Chives Dumpling at Chinese stalls, but seeing so many customers enjoy the Poached Szechuan Dumpling in Spicy Sauce, I decided to give this a go and boy, was it the right choice! The dumpling skin had just the right amount of thinness that makes it look slightly translucent. Other than the chilli, the other important component in this dish was the vinegar — too much and it overpowers everything, too little and it is not shiok enough. The amount of vinegar used here was perfect, making the dumplings saucy, delicious and extremely appetising. We all agreed that the Poached Szechuan Dumpling in Spicy Sauce from Shi Xiang Ge was a pretty good substitute for those at Din Tai Fung!
The weakest link in the meal was, without a doubt, the poor Meat Bun. I have tried similar versions of it in Chinatown and Shi Xiang Ge’s rendition was a far cry from those. Doughy and overly salty, there was also a strange margarine oil that clashed with the taste of the pork filling. At $3.50, it was a pricey snack which I would not order again.
With Mr Liu’s expertise in la mian and Chinese cuisine, the stall sees perpetual long queues during lunch and dinner as diners scramble to get a bowl of authentic Chinese la mian. Given its price point, portion, and quality of food, Shi Xiang Ge highly deserves multiple revisits.
Shi Xiang Ge
Address: Blk 514 Bishan Street 13, Bishan Bus Interchange Level 2, Singapore 570514
Opening Hours: 11am-9pm daily. Closed on Tuesdays.
MissTamChiak.com made anonymous visit and paid its own meal at the stall featured here.
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