Nestled near Singapore’s famous Arab Street, East Coast Ngoh Hiang is old, slightly dirty, not air-conditioned, humid, and tightly cramped with locals both new and old generation– basically the common characteristics of a good local restaurant.
They specialize in different variations of prawn noodle soups, soups that have been simmered for hours with big prawns. Most popular of the soups is the original prawn noodle soup, although the pig’s tail and prawn soup is enjoyed by locals. I opt for the jumbo prawn soup and ordered a few fried fish fritters to accompany my dish.
It’s hot and humid, like any other day in Singapore, but regardless, I dig in. The soup is quite simple– just prawn juice. But it’s sweet and rich, not briny or seafoody. It’s pure and clean and very shrimpy, almost resembling meat instead of shrimp. The noodles are nothing special, but the broth is what makes the dish so enjoyable. I add a few slices of insanely hot bird chili peppers. Even though I made sure I ate none of these chilis, just eating the noodles around the peppers was spicy enough. The prawns are, as advertised, jumbo. They are butterflied, so it’s easy to eat the flesh. Slightly rubbery but sweet and quite juicy.
I now have beads of sweat dripping off my nose and forehead. My mouth is tingling from the hot peppers, and my vision is blurry from eating a hot bowl too quickly. But my stomach is satisfied, and my daily quest for good food has been conquered.