Monday, December 15, 2014

Fishball Story - A Young Hawker Journeyman

He fondly remembers his grandma's fishballs, which were all made by hand. It is this food memory of his that galvanised him to want to set up his own hawker stall to preserve his grandma's food.

It is also his passion that drove him to become a hawker at the tender age of 23. Where many of his peers are more comfortable working in an office, he is slogging away at his kitchen on a daily basis.

Douglas Ng is not your typical young Singaporean. Working with him during the Ultimate Hawker Fest gave me a sense that he is a very grounded person. Far more driven and sensible for someone his age.

His dedication to his cooking craft can be reflected in his steadfast insistence to make his own fishballs by hand. He could have taken the easy route like most fishball stalls have done by taking factory material instead. But he does not.

That he is willing to sacrifice an easier working path is worthy of admiration in itself. But what is telling is he has an insatiable will to succeed in what he is pursuing. Already, that is quite a fair bit of media attention on him. Yet, he takes it all in stride.

Fish Ball Mee Pok

His bowl of noodles looked very well made and well put together. Generous portioning, coupled with the colourful decoration of his handmade fishballs and fish slices made everything look visually very appetising.

While I have tasted better handmade fishballs, his own fishballs are still a cut above the rest. And his fish slices fared even better. There is a sense of homecooked flavours in the yellowtail fish paste that he infused into the mix. And no flour was used, so the texture comes off feeling less rigid and artificial.

But the surprise for me was how incredible his noodles were. Resembling a very well made aglio olio linguine, his meet pok was perfectly executed and superbly tossed with his own concoction of chilli and lard oil that coated every strand of the noodle beautifully.

That added hint of dried shrimp only elevated the delicious noodles another notch higher. When taken together with the fishballs and slices, this was an exceptional bowl of fishbowl noodles.

Douglas Ng, Photo by PinkyPiggu

It is appropriate that Douglas has named his stall Fishball Story. Though still young, he has clearly demonstrated signs of a true hawker journeyman. His tone when I spoke to him hinted to me that he wants this very badly.

Whether he can achieve all that he seeks out in this line remains to be seen. But for sure, he has the support of his fans and many who have since, been converted not just by his food, but by his tremendous attitude.

I enjoyed chatting with him, seeing the fire in his eyes and watching him cook his noodles with a fiery gusto. It reminded me of some of the legendary hawkers of this island when they went about their business.

Sadly, a number of those legends have since left the scene. It is my hope that Douglas will himself be ranked as a legend on his own accord one day. For now, he is continuing to write his own story.

I am just excited and looking forward to the next chapter.

Fishball Story
Golden Mile Food Centre
505 Beach Road

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