136 Hongkong Street Fish Head Steamboat

Sometimes, I think the West region of Singapore gets maligned for the deceptive lack of good food. It's not to say that the area is teeming with amazing food galore (because it's really not), but there's a decent smattering of dining options that I'd make the trek, even from the East, to eat at.

Like this non-descript cze char spot in Clementi (it's really more West Coast than Clementi proper), which was depressingly devoid of people on a week night (I've been told it's crazy busy on weekends). A friend had raved about its claypot 'bee tai mak' or rat's tail noodles (not particularly appetizing a name, I know), back when it was still located in Toa Payoh, but I never got around to visiting the stall until now. In its new-ish coffeeshop premises all the way in the South-West of the island.

Notwithstanding its moniker, skip the fish head steamboat, and head straight for the tze char menu, it's what's exceptional here. Also, you know how many restaurants push their so-so dishes as "signatures" to increase orders of their middling offerings, so you ignore them? Here at 136 HongKong St Fish Head Steamboat, take heed to their signatures, you'll do well to stick to them. We found that the dishes missing a thumbs up emoji were notably less impressive.

A must-try, the Claypot 'Mee Tai Bak' ($5 for small), dotted with pork mince, chopped kailan, a couple of medium-sized shrimp, and finished with a raw egg cracked into the bubbling earthenware, was absolutely fantastic. Robust, velvety and redolent of garlicky notes, each strand of silver needle noodle slid down the throat like rich silk.

If mee tai bak isn't your thing, there's the Boss (Big Prawn) Bee Hoon ($8), a rice vermicelli variation of the above claypot and luxed up with more prawns. I generally prefer the texture of skinny rice vermicelli, so this got my pick.

Another must-try was the Hongkong-Style Deep-Fried Fish Skin ($12 for small) delightfully crunchy and burnished with a coat of salted egg yolk essence. Spiked with sliced chilli and fried curry leaves for a punchy spice, this was sinfully delicious.

The Thai-style Deep-Fried Oyster Omelette ($9) was wonderfully fluffy, and the the oysters were surprisingly fat and succulent.

The Beancurd Prawn with Egg ($18) was overwhelming with the taste of ginger. The heat of the ginger oblierated the delicate sweetness of the prawns, and that lovely egg drop gravy. Suffice it to say, we didn't finish this.

136 Hong Kong Street Fishhead Steamboat
713 Clementi West St 2
Tel: 9437 8260
Open daily from 11am to 2pm for lunch; 5pm to 11pm for dinner

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