There is a wantan mee rivalry in Katong, 2 Engs competing with each other

The newer one is air-conditioned.

Joshua Lee | June 14, 2018, 04:17 PM

Two wantan noodles businesses are duking it out in Katong.

Both are called "Eng's" but it looks like they won't be that eng ("free" in Hokkien) with the competition each side is serving the other, and with both shops just across the street from each other.

The older Eng's Wantan Noodle has to contend with the newer upstart, Eng's Char Siew Wantan Mee.

Eng's Wantan Noodle. Via Facebook.

Eng's Char Siew Wantan Mee. Via Yelp.

And the story of how they came to be is a cautionary tale of business partners not seeing eye-to-eye.

Newer shop

The newer shop is set up by the children of the founder of the original Eng's.

This occurred after a dispute with the shareholders of the original million-dollar business.

What led to the split?

Eng's originally started out as a pushcart business by Ng Ba Eng more than 50 years ago.

It then moved to Dunman Food Centre in the 1970s.

In 2012, Ng moved to 287 Tanjong Katong Road with the help of an investor, Jason Sim, who pumped in S$150,000.

The following year, Ng passed away from a heart attack.

The wanton mee business, called Eng's Noodle House, was registered as a company with Ng's son, Desmond Ng, and Sim's wife, Pauline New, as directors and shareholders.

Went to court over disputes

Unfortunately, things didn't work out between them by March 2016.

They went to court, citing problems such as irregularities in the accounts, disputes regarding shareholdings, and disagreements about customer service.

Ng applied to court to close down Eng's Noodle House but the court ruled that he could only exit the business by selling his shares to the other shareholders -- as stipulated by the company's operating rules-- but Ng refused.

In the end, the business was taken over by the CEO of soup chain Lao Huo Tang, Thomas Hong who is a fan of the noodles.

It was renamed Eng's Wantan Noodle.

What's so special about it?

There's wanton mee, and then there's Eng's Wantan Noodle.

There are two things that reviewers consistently praise: Its fiery chilli sauce that is made in-house and springy noodles.

The housemade chilli paste is so potent that it comes with a warning. Regulars of Eng's Wantan Mee call it "gunpowder". Image via TripAdvisor.

The bright red chilli sauce is so potent that it comes with a warning to "BEWARE of Super HOT Chilli", and is known to produce after-effects similar to a McSpicy.

The egg noodles are procured from a factory, and made according to the founder's specifications.

Once cooked, they are tossed in a secret umami-sauce made from pork bones and lard.


Which one is better?

Unsurprisingly, both places have the same main items on the menu, because why change things if they're not broken right.

Prices between both businesses are also comparable.

Eng's Wantan Noodle:

  • Wanton Noodle (choice of soup or dry): $4.50 (small); $5.50 (big)
  • Boiled Wantons (choice of soup or dry): $3 (small); $5 (big)
  • Fried Wantons$3 (small); $5 (big)
  • Oyster Sauce Vegetables: $3 (small); $5 (big)

Wanton noodles, boiled wantons, and fried wantons from Eng's Wantan Noodle. Image via Google.

Eng's Char Siew Wantan Mee:

  • Wanton Noodle (choice of soup or dry): $4.50 (small); $5.50 (big)
  • Boiled Wantons (either dry or in soup): $3 (small); $4 (medium); $5 (big)
  • Fried Wantons$3 (small); $4 (medium); $5 (big)
  • Oyster Sauce Vegetables$3 (small); $4 (medium); $5 (big)

Wantan noodles from Eng's Char Siew Wantan Mee. Image via Google.

Unless you're splitting hairs, the offerings from both businesses are relatively on par, taste-wise. According to a customer interviewed by The Straits Times, the food from both businesses are "mostly the same".

Both places also uses order chits, so ordering is a rather snappy affair.

Eng's Char Siew Wantan Mee menu. Image via Google.

That's where the similarities end.

The newer Eng’s Char Siew Wantan Mee has air-conditioning, while the older Eng's Wantan Noodle still relies on fans.

Reviews online also praise the newer Eng's for having better customer service, which is better than the purported grouchy service customers had to endure at the old Eng's.

However, with the re-opening of the original Eng's plus the entry of Ng's rival shop across the road, it seems the original business might be stepping up on their customer service.

In any case, the ongoing war between both parties can only mean one thing: More wanton noodles for us.

Where to find them

Eng's Wantan Noodle

Eng’s Char Siew Wantan Mee

Top images via Facebook and Google