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The best sliced fish soups in Singapore worth travelling and waiting for


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Who doesn’t love a hearty bowl of umami fish soup? It’s comforting for the tummy and soul (especially on a cool day), and is undoubtedly one of our favourite hawker dishes in Singapore.

Generally, there are two kinds of sliced fish soup available in Singapore. The Teochew-style fish soup features a light, clean broth with fish, vegetables and beancurd, accompanied with rice or bee hoon.

 

 

Then, there are the milky broths (condensed milk is usually added) that contain boiled and deep-fried slices of batang (mackerel), toman (snakehead) or pomfret — and in some cases even a fried fish head. These more robust soups are typical of a Cantonese-style fish soup.

Whether you’re craving for the Teochew-style or Cantonese-style fish soup, these hawker stalls and restaurants should be on your list. They serve up some of the island’s best, most satisfying fish soups.

1. Han Kee Fish Soup at #02-129 Amoy Street Food Centre

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At first glance, the clear broth looks weak, but a sip will change your mind. Han Kee’s stall minders are very generous with the number of fish slices dished out, even for the $5 portion, so you get a fish soup that is packed with flavour, served with rice or bee hoon.

The broth is sweet with a strong umami taste and thanks to fresh coriander being added, also has mild citrusy notes. This stall usually sells out within a couple of hours of opening on weekdays.

2. Fan Ji Bittergourd Fish Soup at #02-70 Hong Lim Market & Food Centre

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Paying $5 at this fish soup stall will get you a bowl packed with thinly-sliced bittergourd, plump slices of batang fish and a fish broth that is robust, sweet and aromatic.

Laced with ginger and fried garlic, the flavours are incredibly balanced, and the bittergourd slices provide a slight crunch and a pleasant aftertaste. Add rice or mee sua for an additional $0.50.

3. Jin Hua Fish Head Bee Hoon at #01-77 Maxwell Food Centre and #01-120 Old Airport Food Centre

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This is one full-bodied, rich and creamy bowl. Milk is added to the broth by default, and there is a hint of sweetness from shaoxing wine. Each bowl is cooked to order, so wait times can be long.

We like the mixed fish soup ($6 and up) where the fried slices soak up the milky broth, while sliced fish and crunchy veggies provide a good balance of flavour to the otherwise heavy dish. Quality is consistent at both outlets.

4. Piao Ji Fish Porridge at #02-100 Amoy Street Food Centre

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The queues begin forming even before the stall opens, even though prices begin at a hefty $7. We got the princely bowl of fish and prawn soup ($10) that comes with two prawns, prawn heads, and toman fish slices (including belly cuts).

The broth itself is light and clear, and there’s plenty of flavour and crunch that come from fresh vegetables and fried shallot bits.

The ginger-laced chilli on the side is a delicious treat that just adds depth to the bowl. Rice is an add-on at $0.50 — you’ll need it to feel full after queuing for that long.

5. Ka-Soh Restaurant at 2 College Road, Alumni Medical Centre

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The fish soup ($7.50 and up) is a best-seller at this Michelin Bib Gourmand tze char restaurant, and it’s easy to see why. Generous cut slices of toman fish sit in a milky fish broth with slippery, thick bee hoon noodles.

The broth gets its creaminess from fried fish bones that have been laboriously cooked for hours — no additional milk or milk powders have been added here. Add a dash of white pepper or cut chilli padi for extra heat.

6. Whampoa Keng Fish Head Steamboat @ Balestier, 556 Balestier Road

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For a slightly more upscale bowl of fish soup, opt for Whampoa Keng’s bubbling pot of Charcoal Fish Head Steamboat. Fish bones are intensively boiled along with a secret mix of herbs, resulting in a heady broth that is smoky with charcoal aroma, and spicy with generous lashings of white pepper.

For your steamboat, you get to choose bucket pomfret, red garoupa or boneless bardan sliced fish.

During the day, the same delicious broth is served as simpler bowls of sliced fish soup with toman fish, green veg and your choice of bee hoon or rice ($8.90 and up).

7. Mr Fish at #02-73 Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre

Here, $5.50 gets you a bowl of sliced fish soup and a side of rice. The star of the show is the opaque broth that is milky, rich and has great depth of flavour.

There is no milk added — the broth’s colour and richness comes from boiled fish bones. Each bowl is made to order, so expect to wait. We recommend springing for the $6 bowl of fish belly soup with plump slices of flaky fish.

8. Blanco Court Fried Fish Noodles at 325 Beach Road

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With the 30-minute lunchtime queue, expectations do run high and, thankfully, the bowl does not disappoint. The fried fish soup is hailed as the forte of this stall, but the simple steamed fish soup is just as good.

To get the best of both worlds, order the Mixed Fish Soup ($6) where generous, plump slices of fish swim in an umami-heavy broth that features a portion of milk.

It’s served with two kinds of chilli (the usual chilli padi in soya sauce, and a garlic-chilli-vinegar sauce) to balance the decadently fried bits. There are even bits of fried ikan bilis and fried egg floss swimming in the broth.

9. Yi Jia Teochew Fish Porridge and Soup at #01-66 Maxwell Food Centre

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You can get a bowl of fish soup with plump pomfret slices for $6 at this stall. The Teochew-style clean broth can be accented with fried bits of lard, thinly sliced ginger, chopped garlic and the usual chilli and soya sauce. Have it with rice, mee sua or bee hoon.

The value of premium pomfret at such low prices is a big draw, and so expect wait times to be long during peak hours. The stall also tends to sell out of its dishes within a couple of hours.

10. Mei Xiang Black & White Fish Soup at #02-44 Jalan Berseh Food Centre

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There is only one thing on this menu — a mixed fish soup of fried and boiled slices of toman fish, swimming in a murky broth ($6 and up). The accompaniments are just as austere, as just rice and chilli are on offer.

But each component is done well, and the stall usually sells out within a few hours of opening. This soup is rich, and milky without the addition of milk, and the calamansi-laced chilli is fresh and piquant. Our only gripe is that there were too many fried fish slices in the soup, making the meal rather heavy and cloying. Still, it’s a tasty bowl.

This article was first published in Her World Online.

 

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