Golden Mile Food Centre had its heyday when it was surrounded by shops selling army supplies and paraphernalia. With the camouflage-clad market largely restricted to ‘official’ stores now, this area is much less lively after book-out hours than it used to be. That’s a pity because hawker stalls such as Wedang are there for the intrepid foodie to discover.
I made my way down to the recipient of the 2016 Michelin Bib Gourmand last week, curious to discover why they had received that accolade. And perhaps also to uncover why they have not received it in any subsequent edition.
When we arrived, neither of the 2 gentlemen working the wok seemed to be Mr Kamis, the stall owner credited by Michelin with starting the stall in 2005. There was no queue for their food, either, despite it being lunch time. I was apprehensive since Mr Kamis wasn’t behind wok and there was no crowd.
It was time to put my stomach on the line, just like I do with my worst-rated series.
What I tried at Wedang
Well, they haven’t expanded the menu since the Michelin review. Wedang still revolves around 5 Indonesian dishes, albeit with variations. The 5 are satay, mee rebus, tahu goreng, gado-gado and the traditional Indonesian broth called soto.
I asked for the Mee Soto Ayam (S$5) but you can also have the Soto Ayam and Beehoon Soto Ayam for the same price.
Soto is a dish of Javanese origin that combines rice vermicelli, begedil (potato cake) and shredded chicken in spicy chicken stock. The stock had a slightly cloudy texture without being overly rich. Fortunately, the spiciness level was manageable, too.
This was the most indulgent and rustic serving of Mee Soto Ayam I’ve ever experienced. The intricate broth exuded a robust umami and savoury essence, gradually transitioning into a smoky, subtly sweet flavour profile with a touch of herbal freshness.
Notes of Thai lime (makrut), lemongrass, and ginger added a harmonious complement to its earthy undertones. It was particularly enjoyable to sip with the rain bringing in the cold.
I found myself sitting there, leisurely savouring the broth for a good 2 to 3 minutes before even considering the rest of the ingredients. When I did, I found that the shredded chicken did a good job of soaking up all that savoury goodness from the broth.
If you’re up for a challenge and to give it an extra kick, you can pour in some sambal kicap, a black, sweet and spicy sauce that comes with the bowl.
My dining companion made a smart choice by ordering the Gado-Gado (S$4.50), too. It turned out to be the best part of our meal.
For the unfortunate folk who don’t know, gado-gado is an Indonesian salad of vegetables, egg, potato, fried tofu and tempeh. The Wedang version comes with lontong, a compressed rice cake cut into bite-sized pieces and completed with keropok as garnishing.
We were soon to discover that its best feature was by far the wonderfully rich, tasty, tangy, spicy, textured peanut sauce. It went perfectly with every single one of the other ingredients but in particular with the rice cakes. We even ended up scooping up the last bits of the sauce with our curved keropok pieces!
It’s difficult to fully understand how any particular food review and rating system such as the Michelin Bib Gourmand works. Part of that difficulty stems from human fallibility— the same chef or cook using the same equipment under the same conditions with exactly the same ingredients may end up with 2 plates of the same dish that taste different.
I say that because my dining companion and I both agreed that this was the best plate of gado-gado either one of us had ever tried. I would implore Michelin to re-visit Wedang and try that dish again; we certainly believe that it deserves serious consideration.
If the original version by Mr. Kamis was better than what we had last week, it’s a veritable tragedy that I did not manage to try it for myself. You shouldn’t miss out on this version, either.
Expected damage: S$4.50 – S$7 per pax
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