So Chinatown Complex Food Centre has made its return after a few months’ renovation (though as an outsider, we don’t see much noticeable differences other than the nets), and the one stall that many look forward to is Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao 中国拉面小笼包.
The humble stall offers a great value for your money with delicious handmade Xiao Long Bao ($6.50), Szechuan Spicy Wanton ($5), and hand-pulled noodles such as Sour & Spicy Noodle, Beef Noodles, Dumpling Noodles and Sour & Spicy Noodles (each bowl priced at $3.50 – $4).
It gained more recognition after it was awarded a “Michelin Plate” in the Singapore Michelin Guide.
For first timers, navigating around the food centre especially in the hot weather may be daunting, so I always first look out for Hawker Chan Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle (#02-126). The stall is kind of nearby (#02-135).
Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao 中国拉面小笼包 was first established by Mr Li Feng Cai and his wife who were originally from Anhui, China. He learnt the art of noodle making from Beijing and Shenzhen.
Who doesn’t love a good steamed dumpling?
The Xiao Long Bao are freshly made on the spot by hand, considered affordable at $6.50 for 2 baskets of 5 (increased from $6 before renovations).
Digging into that smooth skin, to find steamy and belly warming soup and juicy filling awaiting you, can be a blissful experience.
The broth to said to be cooked for 12 hours before being frozen and wrapped in the minced pork dumpling.
Many would compare this to the offering of the other famous chain. I would say while it lacked the finesse in terms of consistency and thickness of skin, the fillings were moist and meaty, while broth was to the sweeter side.
Add some vinegar and chilli for a better experience.
The Pan-Fried Dumplings aka Guo Tie ($6.50 for 10 pieces) certainly looked promising with its crisp outer layer, and almost golden-brown exterior. Such beautiful pieces.
Alas, the inside wasn’t as juicy as I would have expected, though it was similar rather meaty. So im comparison, not my favourite thing here.
If you need to choose, then I would rather go for the Szechuan Spicy Wanton aka Hong You Chao Shou ($5 for 10 pieces) with almost slurp-worthy vinegary sauce with tingling of spiciness.
Between the Xiao Long Bao and La Mian, surprisingly the La Mian with Fried Bean Sauce ($3.50) impressed me more.
There was a certain pleasant and doughy bite to the long strands of thin noodles.
The bean sauce was generous in portion, and wasn’t over in terms of that fermented bean taste.
The stall does get rather crowded during peak meal times, as more tourists are getting aware of their existence, especially when they have got a fair bit of publicity from the Singapore Michelin Street Food Festival. Come slightly before the typical dinner times if you can.
Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao 中国拉面小笼包
335 Smith Street, Chinatown Complex Food Centre #02-135, Singapore 050335
Tel: +65 9743 5287
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 3pm, 5pm – 8:30pm (Wed – Sun), Closed Mon, Tues
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