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Weekend food diaries: DMQ Ban Mian

Weekend food diaries: DMQ Ban Mian

donutdontu

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For those of you who have only started following us along recently, you might not remember that our office used to be located at the Automobile Megamart in Ubi. 

It might be nostalgia speaking, but our immediate food options were much better back then (compared to where we are at New Tech Park currently) - with one of the highlights being this special ban mian stall. 

The mere mention of good ban mian is sure to send the mind to the thought of L32 Ban Mian first - and there are certainly days on which I relish the experience of fighting through Geylang’s traffic to plonk myself down at the original store’s blue tables. But from past experience, long waits and a sizable crowd always accompany any visit. This is even more pronounced if you try the Tampines 1 branch (I cannot speak on the Aljunied one as I haven't visited it). 

03.thumb.jpg.608b1e73ef797f947ef4822f0c8573a3.jpgAll that is a long-winded way to say - if L32 is too far out of reach, DMQ Ban Mian makes for a great alternative too.  

The food

Like L32 - and unlike you bog-standard ban mian stalls in Food Republic or Koufu - DMQ Ban Mian also comes with a variety of ‘sides’ to match your order. Of course, you get to choose exactly the sort of handmade noodles you want too, whether it’s ban mian, you mian, or mee hoon kway. 

From this amateur’s point of view, a marker of bad ban mian is if it gets soggy or soft too quickly. Conversely, good ban mian should have a certain level of chewiness to it, without feeling too flour-y.

02.thumb.jpg.c185e9a317a190b2926981cf02c05829.jpgOther professional food critic sites have lauded DMQ’s noodles for having a ‘QQ’ (springy? I guess that’s how I’d translate it) texture, and that’s exactly what I feel - and enjoy - about them too. 

Then there is the soup: Rich, thicker than you’d imagine, and ostensibly true to DMQ's claim that there is no MSG inside. You can tell when a soup's flavour has been artificially tinkered with because the satisfaction of drinking it wears off very quickly. I cannot remember a time I’ve left the stall without slurping every last drop up. In fact, I’ve never bothered ordering my noodles dry, because the soup is just so fantastic.

04.thumb.jpg.e538d4a8564a8d556ab26f134817b357.jpgBonus points, too, for the vegetables inside, which surprisingly, mix hints of sweetness and bitterness for a very tasty result.  Finally, the saltiness of the thin ikan bilis and sweetness of the fried shallots balance each other out very well. 

Back to the sides: As a fishball-lover, and as a person content with eating something I enjoy repeatedly, that’s usually what I gravitate towards. I’m not sure about how exactly the fishballs here are made, but they don’t taste overly artificial (i.e. the frozen sort that clearly lack freshness on your first bite), and go well with the soup. 

05.thumb.jpg.f1ec68764017f3a0033c2fcd25fdc92d.jpgAs any self-respecting specialty ban mian stall would do, however, the highlight of DMQ’s menu is undeniably the la la (clams) ban mian. I also order these when I get the chance to drop by, and they are chewy, sweet and fresh. 

But the bowl of noodles itself isn’t where things end.

Ban mian is incomplete without chilli - and the sort that is made in-house by DMQ is perfect: Sufficiently spicy, yet also savoury and tangy. Again, I dare anyone to try finishing up their ban mian here without going through at least two saucers of chilli. 

06.thumb.jpg.6a77846b7ff92af9ca6ed36144471bdd.jpgRuminating

I’ve mentioned it before, and will continue to do so to make it clear: I am no food critic, and these culinary adventures I write about (as with the previous one at McDonald’s) will probably take on different forms depending on the significance of each meal.

And this particular visit to DMQ on a Saturday morning has somehow set me… in a wistful mood. 

It’s not always the food itself, but also the environment in which you eat that matters. 

Having lived in Punggol for most of my life, Ubi somehow feels delightfully stuck in the past - unbothered with hip cafes, slow-paced on a weekend, and bearing the unmistakable design of a HDB estate built prior to the 2000s. 

07.thumb.jpg.f971a16930178431f617bcaa12d4563a.jpgI put my phone aside and whipped out a car magazine to read after I was done with my meal - just because - and there was no immediate pressure for me to vacate my table too.

It's not that these sorts of serene environments don't exist in Singapore... but to have them combined so seamlessly with a space that serves reliably good food feels rare, at least with my normal routines, and within my normal radius of movement around the island. 

I am also sentimental to a fault - and with all the fear, excitement, frustration and sadness interwoven into it, my first work location after graduating from uni will always hold a special place in my heart. Some will argue that L32 still makes better ban mian - and there will be days when I want to fight the traffic in Geylang for a good meal - but I know I will always make time to return to DMQ too. 

Address: 304 Ubi Ave 1, Singapore 400304

(Parking is pretty easy to find, but instead of entering the carpark right next to DMQ - which is a never-ending nightmare - drive further along Ubi Avenue 1 to the next entrance instead. Keep going left after that, and you’ll find yourself behind the estate centre, after which a short five-minute walk will land you back in DMQ anyway.)

- Matt




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