January 24, 2014

Whampoa Food Street (Keng) Fish Head Steamboat 黄埔庆 @ Balestier Road ~ Still One Of The Best After All These Years!

Compared to the previous few Makansutra dinners which I've attended, the session at Whampoa Food Street (Keng) Fish Head Steamboat 黄埔庆 was a lot simpler. The venue wasn't fancy, the food was unpretentiously presented and mostly what we would have ordered at a regular zhi char stall. So what's the draw? It's their signature fish head steamboat which magneted us over!! From its humble beginning in 1990 as a hawker stall to the current two restaurants at Balestier Road and Rangoon Road, as well as a chain of profitable food outlets with its own central kitchen and catering arm, Whampoa Keng has certainly come a long way under the leadership of Mr Keng. His first wife now manages the main branch at Balestier Road, while his second wife takes care of the Rangoon Road outlet. I believe Mr Keng not only has a talent for business, but in time management as well.

We were at the Balestier main outlet and tried their Sliced Fish Steamboat. Personally my preference is for fish head as the meat is generally sweeter, but the slices of fresh batang fish was just as good. Still heated traditionally using charcoal, the pot of broth was lusciously robust, superbly addictive and wonderfully aromatic with predominant flavors of dried solefish. A host of other ingredients such as cabbage and fried yam adds variety and texture to the whole dish, bringing the enjoyment level to an immense high. Beautiful.

The Prawn Rolls aka Hae Chor was equally delightful and disappeared from the table soon after it arrived. No, I don't think it's just due to our hunger (dinner started late as usual), but because beneath the crispy beancurd skin of each nugget was the delectable filling of prawns, pork and crunchy bits of water chestnuts which had us amouring its loveliness.

Sambal Kangkong is another staple zhi char dish. Very well executed from the crunchiness of the vegetables to the unmistakable piquancy of sambal with notes of dried shrimps, and acceptable level of spiciness, it was appetite whetting to the max.

I restrained myself from ordering a bowl of white rice (trying to cut down on carbs) to go with the kangkong and is quietly proud of myself that I've managed to do so even when the next dish of Stired Fried Prawns appeared. The sauce which coated each prawn was savory and had a homely taste. Yes, it would have been perfect with rice, but no, it was still satisfying on its own.

One dish which I don't like that evening was the Thai Style Assorted Seafood. I thought the medley of sliced fish, scallops, fish maw, mushroom didn't go too well together with the slightly creamy sweet and spicy tom yum-like gravy. Reviews were mixed though, as there were people at my table who find its unique combination interesting.

Prawn Paste Chicken Wings aka Har Cheong Gai!!! Woohoo!! After the previous lacklustre dish, the brilliancy of the chicken wings shine forth even more brightly! Using only the mid-joint, each piece was deep fried to gorgeous golden brown crispiness. Every bite was a release of well-marinated, juicy meat and distinct flavor of shrimp paste. So lip-smacking good, I think I helped myself to at least 3 pieces of this oops :p

Not sure if it's chock full of collagen, but the Braised Pig Trotters were surely brimming with delicious goodness. Huge chunks of meat fell off the bones easily, with skin that melted gently in the mouth. The gravy had a subtle herbal taste which was very agreeable to my tastebud.

Can't say the same for the Venison with Spring Onion though, as its saltiness was a tad overwhelming. By the time I got to this dish, my tummy was too full to stomach any much needed rice to offset the heavy handling in seasoning. Perhaps it would be a good idea to takeaway this and have it with porridge the next day, but for that evening, I decided to just skip.

Fortunately, dinner still ended on a tasty note with the last main course of Fried Vermicelli. Mee sua is not an easy dish to execute well when stir-fried, but this version at Whampoa Keng gets the thumbs up. Soft yet retaining a springy bite, it was easily likeable. A squeeze of lime and generous amount of shredded lettuce provided a refreshing counter attack to the slight greasiness which is difficult to eliminate completely from a stir-fried dish.

Nothing can be faulted of the Herbal Jelly. I finished the dessert in silence, quietly appreciating the taste and thinking of the benefits it holds for my skin complexion hehee.

I thoroughly enjoyed the makan session at Whampoa Keng and certainly hold no hesitation in returning again for more delicious meals such as this.

Whampoa Food Street (Keng) Fish Head Steamboat 黄埔庆
Website: http://www.whampoakeng.com.sg/

Main Outlet - Balestier
Address: 556 Balestier Road, Singapore 329872
Contact: Doris +65 91276550 / Office +65 63567371
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-3pm & 5pm-11pm / Weekends & Public Holidays 11am-11pm

Branch - Rangoon
Address: 116/118 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218396
Contact: Sharon +65 90232854 / Office +65 62968843
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-3pm & 5pm-11pm / Weekends & Public Holidays 11am-11pm

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