The popular Kin Kin Chilli Pan Mee from Kuala Lumpur has drawn crowds since it opened an outlet here two weeks ago.
But some diners feel the MacPherson Road eatery's $5 signature dry ban mian (noodles) - topped with crispy ikan bilis, fried shallots, meatballs, minced meat and poached egg, and tossed with its special dry chilli flakes - is not worth the two- to three-hour wait.
Mr Ryan Ng, 36, who is self-employed, thinks the brand has been over-hyped on blogs and social media.
He said: "I have not eaten the original Kin Kin noodles, but what I had here is similar to ramen or la mian dishes in Japan, Taiwan or China, which are tastier... I don't think I'll come back."
Student Ryan Wong, 23, who waited 2 1/2 hours for his bowl of noodles at the 62-seat eatery, said: "I waited very long - too long. The chilli is good - I don't think I have tasted something like it in Singapore before. But the portion is too small.
"I don't think I'll be back - not in the near future, at least."
Klang-born art director Lian Ju Han, 32, who has tried the original Kin Kin in KL, said: "The chilli tastes the same. But the egg yolk could be runnier. In KL, I queued for only 15 minutes."
Kin Kin's debut here came about through a partnership between a Singaporean couple, Mrs Eileen Goh, 46, and her husband Ray, 42, and Kin Kin's Malaysian owner Tan Lih Shing.
Mr Goh, who runs a mining business and an interior design company with his wife, is a big fan of the original Kin Kin in Malaysia and convinced the owner to open an outlet across the Causeway.
In between dealing with the queues, manning the cash register and worrying about whether the fishballs and noodles would run out, Mrs Goh explained the long wait for the noodles.
She said: "We can cook only six individual portions at one time. Sure, we could cook all the noodles at one go, and diners might not know the difference. But we would know the difference in taste and texture. The timing when cooking the noodles and the egg has to be precise."
Even so, not all the eggs were poached to perfection, and some diners expressed disappointment at over-cooked eggs or portions that came with the yolks broken.
Mrs Goh said that even though the chilli is from Malaysia, the noodles served are made here because it is "easier" to get them from a local supplier.
KL-born student Jasmine Koh, 23, who is a fan of Kin Kin's dry ban mian back home, said: "The chilli here seems authentic. But the noodles taste slightly different. I didn't get a chance to try the handmade fishballs, but I doubt they would taste the same."
Freelance designer Shireen Tan, 36, said: "Waiting time aside, I think the noodles are pretty tasty, and they go very well with the chilli and runny egg yolk."
Kin Kin Chilli Pan Mee at 534 MacPherson Road opens from 11am to 9pm daily.
This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.
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