Monday, 12 March 2018

Singapore Song Fish Head Pioneer. Seng Kee 119. Chinatown Complex Food Centre


Steamed Song fish head is a popular dish among Cantonese from Guangdong who brought it to the world beyond. The best place in Singapore to get the quintessentially Cantonese dish is Chinatown Complex Food Centre - there are over a dozen Song fish head stalls here. Kreta Ayer 牛車水 (the original name of Chinatown) was a Cantonese enclave, and there are still pockets of old school Cantonese food here.


Chicken Boy 雞仔 is the second generation owner of Seng Kee, one of the more popular Song fish head stalls here.

But, why Chicken Boy?

You see, Seng Kee which was founded by Mr 陳's father in the 1960s was originally a chicken rice stall at Temple Street. But, Mr 陳's dad switched to selling steamed Song fish head as there were too many chicken rice stalls (even) then. Mr 陳 who worked at Seng Kee since childhood became known as Chicken Boy, the name he is known by to this day.

Seng Kee moved from Temple Street into Chinatown Complex in 1983, together with the hundreds of other street side stalls in Kreta Ayer.


Chicken Boy had a regular customer (from Malaysia), and one day he offered feedback that the steamed Song fish head dish was getting monotonous - always the same traditional flavours, either with grated ginger or black bean paste. "Could you come up with something else?" the customer asked.


So Chicken Boy and team got to work earnestly and managed to come up with a savoury sour spicy sauce which is Seng Kee's famous signature "hot sauce". They called the new dish "steam fish head in hot sauce". The rest is Singapore Song fish head history, as they say.  

Seng Kee's story would make a good case study for taking customer feedback as opportunities. Willingness to innovate, and daring to change. Creativity has always been part and parcel of Singapore hawker culture.


The famous "hot sauce" is made with fermented bean paste, pickled plum, garlic, ginger, chilli etc.


The pasty savoury sour spicy blend complemented the sweet earthy taste of fresh tender Song fish well. The hot sauce just has spicy notes and is not that hot at all. Eating tender chunks of meaty Song fish with Seng Kee's hot sauce and a couple of crackly lard crackles 豬油渣 makes a delicious treat (for me lah).

Seng Kee's signature sauce is very appetising, so I could enjoy lots of boiled rice with it (that's before Singapore declared War on Diabetes 😂 ).


I love the smooth, soft, gelatinous skin off the Song fish head. The skin comes off like a loose mask by gently scraping with a spoon.


Good dishes to go along with Seng Kee's steamed Song fish head are their popular tofu and gu lou yok 咕噜肉.


The house made tofu was deep fried, so it was soft inside wrapped with tender rough browned skin outside. Served with siew yok, prawns, cabbage and crunchy beans etc in a mild savoury sauce with chicken stock base thickened with starch.


Seng Kee uses chicken to make their master stock.


Crispy outside, tender inside gu lou yok served enveloped with a blend of ketchup and savoury sauce.  

More about Seng Kee 👈 click


Caution: Beware of fish bones when eating Song fish.

Directory of stalls in the Yellow Zone 👈 click
Directory of stalls in the Green Zone 👈 click
Directory of stalls in the Red Zone 👈 click
Directory of stalls in the Blue Zone 👈 click


Restaurant name: Seng Kee 119 成记驰名酱蒸松鱼头
Address: Blk 335, Smith Street #02-190, Chinatown Food Complex, Singapore 050335 (Blue Zone)    
GPS: 1°16'57.7"N 103°50'34.4"E | 1.282705, 103.842889 
Waze: Chinatown Complex 
Tel: +65 6222 8202
Hours: 11:00am to 10:00pm (Tues off) 

Non Halal  

Date visited: 22 Nov 2015, 11 Mar 2018

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1 comment:

  1. Keith Timothy said on Johor Kaki Blog FB Page. "Seng Kee is alright. If I remember correctly they won a poll on best fishhead in Chinatown Complex before the renovation eons ago. They can be a little heavy handed with their seasoning of their signature fishhead. So I tend to order HK styled steam fishhead from them."


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