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Typically, there are two kinds of sliced ﬁsh soup available in Singapore. The Teochew-style version features a light, clean broth with ﬁsh, vegetables and beancurd, accompanied by rice or bee hoon. Then, there are the robust Cantonese-style milky broths that contain boiled and deep-fried slices of batang ﬁsh – and in some cases even a fried ﬁsh head. Whatever your preference is, take your pick from the most comforting ﬁsh soups around.
KA-SOH SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
2 College Road, Alumni Medical Centre
The ﬁsh soup ($7.50 and up) is a best-seller at this Michelin Bib Gourmand zi char restaurant, and it’s easy to see why. Generous cut slices of to man ﬁsh sit in a rich 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 powder has been added here. Add a dash of white pepper or cut chilli padi for extra heat.
PIAO JI FISH PORRIDGE
#02-100, Amoy Street Food Centre
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 to man ﬁsh slices (including belly cuts). The broth itself is light and clear, and there’s plenty of ﬂavour and crunch 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 additional at 50 cents – you’ll need it to feel full after queuing for that long.
MEI XIANG BLACK & WHITE FISH SOUP
#02-44 Jalan Berseh Food Centre
There is only one thing on this menu – a mixed ﬁsh soup of fried and boiled slices of toman ﬁsh, swimming in a tasty 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 creamy 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.
HAN KEE FISH SOUP
#02-129 Amoy Street Food Centre
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 ﬁsh soup that is packed with ﬂavour. The broth is sweet with a strong umami taste, and thanks to fresh coriander being added, also has mildcitrusy notes. Served with rice or bee hoon, this ﬁsh soup is usually sold out within a couple of hours on week days.
YI JIA TEO CHEW FISH PORRIDGE AND SOUP
#01-66 Maxwell Food Centre
A bowl of ﬁsh soup with plump pomfret slices costs $6 at this stall. You get a Teochew-style clean broth that 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 a low price is a big draw, so expect lunchtime queues to be long. The stall tends to sell out of its dishes within a couple of hours.
FAN JI BITTER GOURD FISH SOUP
#02-70 Hong Lim Market & Food Centre
Paying $5 at this ﬁsh soup stall will get you a bowl packed with thinly-sliced bitter gourd, 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 bitter gourd slices provide a slight crunch and a pleasant aftertaste. Add rice or mee sua for an extra 50 cents.
JIN HUA FISH HEAD BEE HOON
#01-77 Maxwell Food Centre and #01-120 Old Airport Food Centre
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.
BLANCO COURT FRIED FISH NOODLES
325 Beach Road
With the 30-minute long 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 soy sauce, and a garlic-chilli-vinegar sauce. There are even bits of fried ikan billis and fried egg ﬂoss swimming in the broth.
110 Killiney Road
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 a 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 veggies and your choice of bee hoon or rice ($8.90 and up).
#02-73 at 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 sweet, rich and deeply ﬂavourful. There is no milk added – the broth’s colour and richness comes from boiled ﬁsh bones. Each bowl is made to order, so expect long wait times. We recommend the $6 bowl of ﬁsh belly soup with plump slices of ﬂaky ﬁsh.
WANG YUAN FISH SOUP
Level 2 Tampines Central Community Complex
Prices begin at $5 at this next-generation hawker stall, but you are going to want to spend more (up to $20) by adding more exotic varieties of ﬁsh to your mix. This ﬁsh soup specialist offers grouper, salmon, and king snapper. But it also caters to the bold, with lobster, clams, and even crocodile and venison on the menu. The ﬁsh (and other meats) are brought in fresh on a daily basis, and the kind of broth you get changes based on the catch of the day. There is a selection of dipping sauces and chillies, and you can even opt for organic noodles and brown rice to go along with your bowl of soup. The broth itself? It’s sweet, packed with umami, and is free of MSG and additives.
TEXT PRIYANKA C. AGARWAL PHOTOS PRIYANKA C. AGARWAL, HAN KEE FISH SOUP, KA-SOH SEAFOOD RESTAURANT, WHAMPOA KENG, WANG YUAN FISH SOUP