Monday, March 10, 2014

Whampoa Keng Fish Steamboat Restaurant

Fish Head Steamboat, or yee tau lor is one of the healthier dishes on our staple diet of hawker foods.

And Whampoa Keng is one of the better ones around. The main restaurant is in Balestier, but a little bird told me that their outlet in Rangoon Road is better, so we went to sample the restaurant, and found it to be quite excellent.

Located in a quieter part of Rangoon Road, with quite a few parking spaces available when we arrived for a late dinner at about 10pm, the restaurant was rather large, but almost full when we got there, though most of the diners were at the end of their meals, as we were about to start ours.

We began with the hae cho

This was truly superb. The deep fried prawn/pork/crab/tofu ball wrapped in a thin bean curd skin had no hint of grease, and the skin was supremely crisp. While the inside was succulent, juicy, and wonderfully tasty, with the intermigling of the flavours of the ingredients culmulating in a delicious whole. Ho Chiak!

We also had the har cheong kai, or prawn paste deep fried chicken

Much has been written about this dish in the blogosphere, especially prominent blogger Leslie's recommendation. I found the chicken to be good, but not spectacular. All the ticks are in the right places. Crispy and light, ungreasy batter: check. Nice succulent meat: check. Flavourful chicken: check. But some I found the balance of spices, herbs to be a bit out...only very slightly, mind you...so still a very good and enjoyable, but I think the chef has to seek to find that balance to make it spectacular for me.

And to the piece de resistance, the fish head steamboat

A very traditional steamboat pot, heated with glowing charcoal was served. The fragrance as it landed on our table was superb. The bubbling soup was very good. The broth had a very robust savoury flavour, full of umami, and yet had a light, slight creamy mouthfeel with a touch of spice. Magnificent.

The chunks of garoupa slices, of which there were more than chunks of fish head, despite the name of the dish was truly spectacular.

Very fresh, so the flesh was firm, with a slightly springy texture as one sinks one's teeth into it, with the skin a bit more than the meat. Very sweet, and excellent fish.

Definitely one of the best fish steamboat I have eaten. I at the original store in Balestier some years ago, and left unimpressed, but this visit left me wanting more and yearning to return. Soon.

Whampoa Keng Fish Head Steamboat Restaurant
116/118 Rangoon Road

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