Many noodle stalls open to a breakfast crowd, ride the lull, then serve lunchtime before closing up after noon. Ru Ji Kitchen is no different and possibly has even tighter hours. I convened with a friend at Holland Drive Market & Food Centre before noon in an attempt to beat the crowd.
We couldn’t help but question the cost-effectiveness of operating two stall spaces in the same hawker centre. The one on the left sells fishball noodles while the other (apparently opened more recently in 2017) specialises in bak chor mee. It’s already a burgeoning franchise; they have 3 other outlets and 1 recently opened at Tam Chiak Kopitiam.
What I tried at Ru Ji Kitchen
Bak chor mee would have been my go-to order on any other day. Reluctantly, I relinquished that to my friend for Fish ball noodles with extra add-ons (S$5). Banking on the stall holding true to their word, I requested ‘less spicy’ for once.
Each bite of the mee pok produced a consistent al dente feedback alongside the crunch from bits of pork lard so satisfying it robbed whatever heed I was paying toward the bowl of fish balls. The chilli had a vinegar-like tang, gradually building numbness as I assailed the noodles.
I scooped some soup to douse the flames and it took my tongue a few seconds to register its lightness against the growing heat. A few more spoonfuls confirmed the delicate savouriness. Like gentle taps on my taste buds, the flavour never bordered on tasteless.
Unlike the uniform texture of frozen fish balls, Ru Ji Kitchen’s are inconsistently shaped. These were quite possibly the bounciest fish balls ever. There was an almost rubbery resistance as I bit it in two. The faint sweetness went down well with the soup and after downing two more, it dawned on me why these were so popular.
The edges of the fish cakes held firmly enough for a pleasant mix of textures. These were just as good as the fish balls.
My friend’s order of bak chor mee with more liao (S$5) supposedly had less spice. Whether the staff heard the last 2 words remains dubious – every strand of kway teow was slathered with chilli.
He slurped some kway teow from his bowl and revealed that there was a more pronounced zest and actually some ketchup as well. Braised mushrooms brought depth to the dish with fair hints of umami for their size. I could totally see myself finishing on his behalf if not for the spice.
The meatball soup was somehow more mellow than that served with the fish balls and with noticeably more fat swimming in it. The extra oil helped amplify the soup’s soothing effect on my burning tongue and that was much appreciated. Each hand-kneaded meatball broke apart too readily but tasted great nonetheless.
By the end of the meal, we had drained our soup and needed a drink on top of that. The spiciness was not to be trifled with.
You can pick from 5 noodle types – mee pok, kway teow, mee kia, yellow mee, bee hoon, and mee tai mak, certainly not found at most fish ball noodle stalls. Further supplementing with dark soya sauce and oil instead of the usual ketchup or chilli sauce is also an option.
Of the 4 Ru Ji Kitchen outlets, the one at Holland Drive is the most interesting for their dual-stall setup. Value for money is debatable as noodle portions for our orders weren’t particularly large. The highlights here are undoubtedly the soup as well as hand-made fish and meat balls so if you’re not put off by queuing purely for those alone, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Expected damage: $4 to $6 per pax
The post Ru Ji Kitchen: 2-stall hawker stall’s bouncy handmade fishballs & minced meatball noodles appeared first on SETHLUI.com.