Famous hawker stalls transcending into the domain of classier sit-down dining: this league of local giants is burgeoning slowly but surely, and this month, Wah Kee leads the charge.

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Set in one of the most experiential dining areas in Singapore, Wah Kee opened its doors to the public for the first time at Esplanade Mall just last Saturday, breathing new life into what is possibly the most iconic prawn noodles on the face of this island. And as with every other name that makes it to the plaque of hawker legends, it is the bold deviation from the norm that makes it stand out from the rest. Sometimes it is something as tangible as the ingredients used; other times, it is an element so intangible you can’t quite put your finger on it.

So what is it about Wah Kee then, that makes it so different?

The belief in originality, for one. While the typical prawn noodle recipe calls for the broth to be simmered in pork ribs or lard, Wah Kee’s soup is purely crustacean-based, resulting in a thin bisque-like soup with just the right undercurrent of sweetness. It is a soup that takes 3 hours to prepare, intensified only by a fierce enforcing belief that when it comes to procuring seafood, it is not just freshness but also the consistency in quality that is just as imperative. Do a quick Google search and sure enough, it is this very broth that sets the masses raving, its bold authentic flavour that netizens can’t seem to get enough of. Wah Kee’s Esplanade branch is only in its first week of operation, and already its Facebook walls are plastered with sold out notices from as early as 1pm. That said, be sure to call in and check especially if you’re making a trip down just for this – there have been one too many disgruntled hopefuls heading down only to find out its normal-sized prawn noodles option have run out for the day).

 photo 2016-12-05 10.12.28 1_zpsbarw9p7l.jpg| Regular-sized Prawns: $6 | {Seen in first picture}

 photo 2016-12-05 10.15.39 1_zpsap25d0qz.jpg| Large-sized Prawns: $20 | {Seen in picture directly above}

| Medium-sized Prawns: $10 | Extra Large-sized Prawns: $30 |

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The rush to reinvent for the new foodies is real, but even in the heart of Esplanade, we can rest assured that the brand new Wah Kee serves up no traces of pretention. True to its Pek Kio tradition, ingredients are kept simple and hearty, with a strong focus on seafood dishes. New finds on its city menu includes Bamboo Clams, Blue Mussels, Fresh Oysters, Oyster Croquette, Rojak Salad, and even Coconut Ice-cream with Pulut Hitam – a wonderful ode to locality. Expect the same delivery of great, honest flavours throughout.

 photo 2016-12-05 10.12.52 1_zpspnqlbjpm.jpg| Rojak Salad: $12 |

 photo 2016-12-05 10.11.09 1_zpsquzqw20o.jpg photo 2016-12-05 10.12.13 1_zpsojnbapsj.jpg| Fresh Oysters: $48/dozen |

Wah Kee serves up these deliciously fresh slurpy goodness with a whole medley of sauce shots – definitely a good starting point as any for those yet undecided; some of these shots are potent enough to drown out any ickiness that daunt you about oysters in the first place.

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 photo 2016-12-05 10.09.02 1_zpsaeirrvjf.jpg| Blue Mussels: $30 |

That mussels are easy to cook is one thing; but that mussels are easy to get right is a whole new ball game on its own. These mussels are sweet, plump, tender, and of course, fresh; and when dipped in their Hainanese chilli sauce that is exclusive only to the Esplanade outlet, turns out satisfyingly scrumptious to the gut.

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| Coconut Ice Cream with Pulut Hitam: $5 |

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HAPPY BELLY RECOMMENDS

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Just like its original Pek Kio branch, the traditional soup option is a strong contender; but if you ask me, the real prizewinner lies in its understated dry mee kia, made exclusively for Wah Kee and unavailable anywhere else. The texture and springiness are astoundingly on point, with none of that dreadful alkaline flavour which typically plagues noodles served al dente.

Soup is served on the side, which allows the noodles to soak up every tinge of flavour from the moderately spicy kangkong and chilli mix. Slurrrrrrp.

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Wah Kee Big Prawn Noodle Esplanade
8 Raffles Avenue, #01-13C, Esplanade Mall
Singapore 39802
+65 6385 3173
Daily: 11:00AM – 2:30PM
Sunday – Thursday: 5:00PM – 10:30PM
Fridays, Saturdays and Eve of Public Holidays: 5:00PM – 11:30PM