Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Kin Kin Chilli Pan Mee - The Hype Factor, Chinese Carbonara

Hype is a strange thing. Too little of it and you might think it is not worth checking it out. Too much of it and you worry that it won't live up to expectations.

And so it is with Kin Kin Chilli Pan Mee that has been imported from Kuala Lumpur onto our shores, and the famed 3 hour queue that was famously reported when it first opened its doors for business.

It's been a few months since that opening, and whilst the 3 hour queue phenomenon has died down, the place was still pretty packed for a pre-lunch time crowd on a week day.

Every table was taken, and the crowd was largely made up of office executives. A significant portion of the crowd was also made up of youngsters, probably motivated by the large amount of online and social media attention given to this place.

Dried Handmade Pan Mee

As for the famed bowl of dried ban mian, it was certainly a deviation from the usual soup based ban mian that we get in most hawker outlets these days. One bowl consists of a multitude of ingredients, which includes the handmade noodles, fried scallion, anchovies, meatballs and a poached egg with a runny yolk.

The noodles themselves were similar to most ban mian that is out there, slightly under-colored and mostly chewy with a nice bite to it. The difference is when served dried, I can see why they added so many other ingredients to provide a variety of textures and crunch to liven things up.

The poached egg was the interesting part for me. Breaking the yolk allowed the oozy yolk sauce to coat every strand of the noodle, akin to an Oriental Carbonara. The only thing missing is the Parmesan cheese. This marriage of noodle and yolk sauce can be quite inviting and indeed, provided the much needed moisture in an otherwise, very dry bowl of noodles.

Does it live up to the 3 hour queue hype? I don't think so. But is it any good, and would I return again? Yes, it is tasty in its own way, but I suspect imitators will come up very soon as this combination of noodles, egg and meatballs is not exactly difficult to duplicate.

Personally, I will not wait an hour for this, but if I have a choice to savor this again, I wouldn't really mind. It is fun and different, though I suspect I might eventually tire of it too. But I will take this over the regular ban mian anytime. For now, anyway.

Handmade Fish Ball Soup

The other signature dish here is this handmade fish ball soup. The fish balls are gigantic in size, and handmade or not, the texture is really soft though I found it lacked a certain amount of seasoning inside.

As for the flavors, it was pretty much what you'd expect from most fish balls these days. Except that the fish balls are really huge and generous in its serving. Served in a clear savory broth, it is best consumed on a cold rainy day.

Coming back to hype. It is evident that with the right publicity, something like Kin Kin will be the talk of the town. And as with every hyped up place, hype will eventually die down too. The real test is always the food itself, and for Kin Kin, the product is actually pretty decent, bordering on great.

At least, I am glad that the waiting time today is far more reasonable to equate with the actual quality of the product. Is the hype warranted?

Perhaps the answer to that is not important. What's more valid is that a year on from now, if it can still fill every table during lunch hour, it would have been a qualified success. For now, it's an almost great bowl of noodles for me.

Kin Kin Chilli Pan Mee
534 MacPherson Road

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