I seldom write about hawker food individually because many blog posts and articles on hawker food are human-interest stories; they revolve mostly around hawkers’ personalities and histories, and only a little on food. It’s always great to humanise people behind the food, but as an misanthropic tsundere, I prefer facts to emotions, prefer to focus on food to humans.
Therefore, whenever I write about hawker food, I need it to be exceptional so that I can absolutely lavish praise without any reservation. And I can do so to Hup Kee Fishball 合记鱼丸 at Ang Mo Kio Ave 4.
As in the heading of this entry, I hate sick people’s food. Fishball noodles, fish soup, porridge, chicken soup—I. HATE. THEM. They are bland and monotonous and boring. But not Hup Kee.
Hup Kee is opened by two brothers, originally from Ipoh but learned their culinary craft in Pahang.
Each serving ($4 / $5 but don’t bother to try the small, just get the bigger one) consists of fishballs, fishcakes, tau pok stuffed with fish paste, and noodles.
What is unique about their stall is they hand make their fish paste (for fishballs, fishcakes, and tau pok) daily. Many stalls claim to hand-made their fishballs, but really they indent fish paste from factories and then “hand-made” fishballs. Here, the brothers do everything by hand; They scrape flesh off yellowtail fish, smash them, and form them into paste.
Their fishballs are made of purely yellowtail fish meat, salt, and pepper with no fillers; no flour, no other fish. As a result, it’s not bouncy like the usual fishballs. It’s slightly soft, almost drooping on the chopsticks. But the purity and freshness of the fishball will perk you up like a sudden alarm going off.
The fishcake is deep-fried with a loose ring of rind that is hard, to contrast favourably with the fishcake.
The tau pok is equally impressive. I cannot be sure that the tau pok is handmade, but it tastes very different from the usual ones. It has the integrity of the taste of soy bean, which makes the fishpaste sandwiched within even sweeter and tastier.
Not to neglect the broth that holds them together: it’s kickass tasty, deep, and complex. Genius to add a piece of seaweed: The floating seaweed absorbs the broth and makes it super umami.
The Malaysian-style dry noodles are addictive: no chilli paste and no vinegar. It’s mixed with a savoury black sauce, lard, and shallot oil–very fragrant and heavy in flavour.
If you need your chilli, fret not. They have this fantastic belacan chilli paste made fresh daily. It tastes so fresh as if you were cutting the chilli at the moment of consumption. It is also super spicy; a little bit of it goes a long way.
Their facebook advises you to dip fishballs in the chilli but I’m afraid the fieriness may overpower the delicate fishballs. Instead the chilli works very well when I put a smidegon, no bigger than a dot, with a scoop of noodles. The chilli gives some fire to the black noodles.
You may also order raw fishball, fishcake, and stuffed tau pok for your home cooking, steamboat, or Chinese New Year.
Malaysian Hup Kee Fishball Noodle 合记鱼丸
Ang Mo Kio Ave 4, Blk 158 #01-590 Singapore 560158
t: +65 9093 8576
8am – 12.30pm or sold out, closed Monday
You may be interested in…
–Quan Ji 權記, Amoy Street Food Centre: Decent Cze Char Best Known for their “Yellow Cloth” Noodles
–Wah Kee Big Prawn Noodle, Esplanade: $37/pax Doesn’t Sound Reasonable for Hawker Fare
–Shi Xiang Ge 食香阁, Bishan Bus Interchange: Shan Xi La Mian and Dao Xiao Mian 刀削面 with Long Queue
–Make Yishun Great Again: What to Eat at Yishun Park Hawker Centre
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.