Wednesday, 14 December 2016

A Vanishing Street Food in Singapore


Guess what food is this 😁

Answer: "Fish balls".

While chatting with a fish ball stall boss, he lamented that factory made "fish balls" pretty much killed the fish ball making tradition in Singapore.

With fish ball noodle stalls literally everywhere in our sunny island, one may not suspect that fish ball making is a vanishing craft in Singapore. 

Out of the hundreds, perhaps over a thousand fish ball noodle stalls in Singapore, there are perhaps less than 10 that still make their fish balls the traditional way with real fish. (The situation is so far less acute in Johor Bahru.)

There is little incentive to hand make fish balls as the work is tedious, requires a lot of skill and patience - a lot can go wrong in the process, the fish ball boss told me. It just makes matters worst that factory supplied "fish balls" actually cost less than had the stall holder hand made the fish balls themselves with real fish. 

Yet, though the end product (hand made fish balls) tastes better, it does not command much price premium over factory made "equivalents". 

Hand made fish balls are in serious danger of going extinct both at the stalls and at home in Singapore. Some handmade dishes are hard to commercialise but can still be made at home. Fish balls, however, are tedious to make at home and requires considerable skill.

How do we save real fish balls for future generations?

By making it worthwhile for hawkers to master and continue the craft of hand making fish balls.

One approach is to pay more for genuine hand made fish balls but naturally very few consumers would be willing - so that is really a non starter in our current climate.

All we could do at the moment is to give the genuine fish ball stalls more support by choosing them over the factory "fish ball" stalls whenever the choice is available.

Let's help keep the fish ball tradition alive for the next generation. Here's a list of fish ball stalls that still hand make their fish balls. Please share with me in the comments if you know of other stalls, so that I can add them to this list. Thank you in advance.

👆Click on photo for full story

👍 Ru Ji Kitchen 如记小厨 
📭 44 Holland Dr, Holland Drive Food Centre, Singapore
📌 1.308224,103.793206 
⏰ 6:30am to 1:00pm (Closed on Monday)

👆Click on photo for full story

👍 Fishball Khin 欽記魚圆 
📭 #01-1825, Blk 574, Ang Mo Kio Ave 10, Singapore 560574 
📌 1°22'15.1"N 103°51'22.7"E | 1.370855, 103.856312 Tel: ☎ 9823 2921 
⏰ 11:30am to 11:30pm (Tues off)

👆Click on photo for full story

👍 Lao Sim Shredded Chicken Noodles 老沈鸡丝面 
📭 Blk 127 Toa Payoh Lor 1 Food Centre #02-01, Singapore 310127 
📌 1°20'18.6"N 103°50'40.9"E | 1.338507, 103.844704 
 8:00am to 1:00pm (Mondays off)

👆Click on photo for full story

👍 Fishball Story 鱼缘 
📭 Timbre+, 73A Ayer Rajah Crescent, Singapore 139957 
📌 1.297027, 103.787442 | 1°17'49.3"N 103°47'14.8"E 
 8:00am to 6:00pm

If you like to try your hand at making fish balls at home, here is a recipe. It looks daunting but the result looks heavenly.

Date: 14 Dec 2016

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  1. Thye Hong fishball noodles and Hock Lye prawn noodles at Ghim Moh Food Centre, Fishii Tales at Amoy Street Food Centre. Incidentally, they are all related. Do give them a try, I consider their noodles and fishballs to be excellent.

    1. Thank you for the tips :-D Appreciate much.

  2. Judging from the picture you've posted, they might be related with Ru Ji Kitchen as well.

  3. ruji's owner is the younger brother of thye hong at ghim moh. their Fishball and fishcakes all handmade. and for sale individually.

    hock lee at Albert court (bugis) hawker also have hand made Fishball. but all sold out by 10.30am.

    finally is hui ji at tiong bahru market with handmade fishballs as well as yong tau foo. and the most awesome chilli sauce for fishballs noodles I have ever tasted.

    expect long queues for all of these. it pains me that age is catching up to all these masters of their trade and no one is taking over the craft. Fishball noodles are a integral part of our food culture heritage and its a bloody shame that we will be losing it in a few years. So even at the cost of even longer queues, please let more people enjoy them before its gone.

    1. Thank you Hilscreate for the insight. I will definitely visit Hock Lee, Thye Hong, and Hui Ji as soon as possible. Appreciate much :-D


I share hoping that everyone will have a good time but your experience may differ from mine. I love to know how you enjoyed yourself or if you didn't.

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