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Mixed-race couple create healthier, halal prawn noodles

SINGAPORE — A hawker stall at Toa Payoh West Market & Food Centre has been drawing crowds for their prawn noodles.

Mixed-race couple create healthier, halal prawn noodles

The owners behind Deanna's Kitchen created a version of prawn noodles that does not have pork or lard. Photo: Sonia Yeo

SINGAPORE — A hawker stall at Toa Payoh West Market & Food Centre has been drawing crowds for their prawn noodles.

Unlike other prawn noodle dishes, this one sold by Deanna’s Kitchen is halal.

The dish is usually associated as Chinese hawker cuisine steeped in pork broth.

But the husband-and-wife team behind Deanna’s offering have re-invented the dish and made it a halal offering that is just as flavourful.

“In prawn noodles, they put pork bones. I removed that and I put a lot of prawn shells, anchovies and chicken bones to replicate the flavour,” said Denise Deanna Chew, who converted to Islam in 2009. She added that the soup is also boiled for three to five hours to bring out the flavours – a tip she learned from her grandmother, who taught her to cook the dish.

When TODAY visited the stall, Ms Cheryl Fong, 25, was on her fourth visit. She said Deanna’s prawn noodle dish is a healthier option that is just as tasty.

“It’s different but the broth is still rich. I think it’s less oily (compared to the) traditional kind, because the lack of pork bones makes it less oily. They (also) don’t use pork lard,” Fong said.

Deanna’s Kitchen opened in May this year, after Chew, 34, spent some five years working on the recipe.

Chew, who still holds a full-time job in a bank, said: “I like to eat prawns a lot. I remember when my grandma cooked prawn noodles when I was young, I didn’t bother to eat the noodles, I would just finish the prawns and (leave) the noodles.”

She added that she missed eating the dish as she could not find authentic halal prawn noodles. So, she and her husband Muhammed Asri Ramili, 38, began to create their own version using halal ingredients.

“It did not start off as a business opportunity, it’s more of an interest and also to share it (authentic halal prawn noodle) with others,” Asri said.

Before setting up their business, the couple tested their product in the market through social media last December. They posted pictures of their prawn noodles “party pack” on Instagram. Each pack contained five servings and they offered 10 such packs each week.

Response was positive, with all 10 orders snapped up each week. The couple did this for about six months before opening their stall at Toa Payoh West Food Centre in May this year.

“We opened during the fasting month. It turned out to be a good move. When people fast, they have a lot of cravings. It’s a good period where naturally, people share the food with others,” Asri said.

Demand has continued to grow over the last few months. It has become so popular, they sometimes sell out as early 12.30pm. But on most days, the stall which opens at 10am, would sell out by about 3pm, said Asri.

A bowl of prawn noodles (S$3.50) comes with three standard-sized prawns and a choice of yellow noodles or white bee hoon. The stall also offers the dish with larger prawns, as well as with crayfish and clams.

Speaking to TODAY, Asri shared that they have since hired staff to help with the growing business. Chew, however, intends to continue in her current job while Asri runs the business.

They hope to also cater to a dinner crowd soon, once operations are “stable”.

The stall’s new operating hours will be split into two shifts — from 10am to 2pm, and from 5pm to 8pm starting Sept 2.

Deanna’s Kitchen opens from Wednesdays to Fridays from 10am to 4pm, Saturdays from 9am to 4pm and Sundays from 9am to 2pm. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The stall will be closed from Aug 27 to Sep 1.

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