I visited Fishball Khin in Ang Mo Kio Blk 574 today. Fishball Khin is one of the oldest fish ball brands and one of the last handful in Singapore that still hand make their own fish balls. (Most stalls resell factory made "fish balls".)
Fishball Khin is in an older, relatively laid back part of Ang Mo Kio about 10 minutes walk from AMK MRT station.
Fishball Khin is a simple shop lot eatery. Neat and clean, the nondescript decor belies the illustrious history behind Fishball Khin. Most passers by wouldn't know that this is one of the oldest fish ball brands in Singapore nor that the old fish ball sifu (master) is in the house - "relak one corner" as we say in Singapore.
Owner Mr Tan Heok Khin whose energy and youthful looks belie his 70+ years age. Affable Mr Tan had been a fish ball seller since he was 18. His fish ball stall founded in 1965, was at the old Orchard Road car park (right where 313 Somerset now stands). When that closed, he moved to Toa Payoh for a decade before settling here in Ang Mo Kio.
Mr Tan still personally makes the fish balls, fish dumplings and fish cakes because getting it just right requires a personal touch from decades of experience. (Mr Tan showed me interesting videos of himself making fish balls.)
Mr Tan makes everything in the morning with yellowtail fish meat. When the shop opens for business at 11:00am his staff runs the front counter and cooking with Mr Tan overseeing. He is happily in semi retirement mode 😃
I started with this "dry" mee kia with soup set (price SGD6).
The mee kia noodles though done just right with a bit of soft spring were generic and flavourless in itself. The tossing sauce was savoury spicy laced with lard but it lacked kick or oomph. Even the lard cracklings couldn't help lift the flavours of the somewhat meek tasting sauce.
Then, I turned my attention to the bowl of soup with fish balls and fish dumplings inside.
One spoonful of the clear watery soup and I was transported back to my childhood - the taste of old school fish ball soup. It tasted like the one I had from the push cart stall at the (now demolished) 3 storey SIT (Singapore Improvement Trust) flats at Mattar Road in the 1960s. (Such 3 storey flats are still seen in Johor Bahru in Stulang Laut and Taman Ungku Tun Aminah.)
It's a gentle salty savouriness layered with the flavour of lard cracklings and fried shallots floating in the broth. The clear soup is made only with run off water from making the fish balls, so there is a slight fresh fish taste.
There are two kinds of fish balls in the soup. Both are hand made, so they have irregular shapes. Both types are made with 100% fresh yellow tail fish meat, water and a little salt. One type has speckles of chopped scallion inside and the other has none.
Both are tenderly springy to the bite like a softly grainy kind of savoury custard. The fish ball is light bodied yet heavy with laden water. When we break it with our bite, a mildly savoury flavour with fresh fish taste bursts in our mouth. I like this kind of fish ball a lot.
Then, there is the her keow (fish dumplings), oh... the her keow 😋 The wrap is made with rolled fish meat. The filling is made with a tiny knob of fish meat spiked with a bit of ti poh (dried sole fish). Oh.. this is wonderful.... gentle savouriness and fish taste with heightened flavour of the more savoury bits of ti poh.
As usual, I couldn't resist ordering another bowl (without the noodles) lah 😂 (price SGD6).
Then, I had Fishball Khin's fish cake (price SGD2).
The fish cake was tender and juicy inside with savoury flavour and fresh fish taste. The outside was lightly browned by frying.
I like Fishball Khin's fish cakes so much that I took home two more. At SGD2 a piece, I think it is a steal.
4-Star (out of 5). Fishball Khin is one of the rare hand made fish ball shops in Singapore. If you are looking for old school 100% fish meat fish balls in Singapore, Fishball Khin is the one to go to. The laid back and breezy environment is conducive for a leisurely snack of fish balls, fish dumplings and fish cakes.
Restaurant name: Fishball Khin 欽記魚圆
Address: #01-1825, Blk 574, Ang Mo Kio Ave 10, Singapore 560574
GPS: 1°22'15.1"N 103°51'22.7"E | 1.370855, 103.856312
Tel: 9823 2921
Hours: 11:30am to 11:30pm (Tues off)
Date visited: 10 Dec 2016
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