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 a fish soup that is packed with flavour.
The broth is sweet with a strong umami taste, and thanks to fresh coriander bein added, also has mild citrusy notes. Served with rice or bee hoon, this stall usually sells out within a couple of hours of opening on weekdays.
Fan Ji Bittergourd Fish Soup at #02-70 Hong Lim Market & Food Centre
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
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.
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 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 additional at $0.50 — you’ll need it to feel full after queuing for that long.
Ka-Soh Seafood Restaurant at 2 College Road, Alumni Medical Centre
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.
Whampoa Keng at 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 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).
Blanco Court Fried Fish Noodles at 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) to balance the decadently fried bits. There are even bits of fried ikan billis and fried egg floss swimming in the broth
Mr Fish, #02-73 at Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre)
Here, $5.50 gets you a bowl of sliced fish soup and a side of rice, and 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 long wait times. We recommend springing for the $6 bowl of fish belly soup with plump slices of flaky fish.
Yi Jia Teo Chew Fish Porridge and Soup at #01-66 Maxwell Food Centre
You can get a bowl of fish soup with plump pomfret slices for $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 soy 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 lunchtime wait times to be long. The stall also tends to sell out of its dishes within a couple of hours.
Wang Yuan Fish Soup at 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 and packed with umami, and is free of MSG and additives.
Mei Xiang Black & White Fish Soup at #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 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.
Text: Priyanka C. Agarwal
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.
Image by Priyanka C. Agarwal