Friday, October 2, 2015

Seng Kee 119 Steamed Fish Head in Hot Sauce at Chinatown Kreta Ayer Market - Freshest Song in Town

Chinatown is known for a lot of things, and food is top among the list. For those who are in the known, the famous Kreta Ayer Food Market has some marvellous gems.

One of these culinary treasures is the open-at-night only Seng Keng 119 Steamed Fish Head. It is extremely popular for Song Fish Head.

Backing up a little, the story of how this sweet, sour and spicy dish came about is rather interesting.

The owner is known affectionately as Kai Zhai, or Chicken Son in Cantonese. As the name suggests, he used to sell chicken rice for a living, but unfortunately, his business did not take off.

Hence, he decided to do something else. Then, he happened to travel to Thailand and met up with a person who taught him to make a very delectable sweet and spicy sauce. That sauce would eventually end up as the base for this popular dish here.

As urban legends go, this is one heck of a story. Since his return from the land of a thousand smiles, he has practically made this the star of the food market (especially at night) with this steamed fish head dish. It is probably second only to the famous claypot rice just around the corner.

The song fish used is obviously gigantic in size. Each plate is priced at a very reasonable $13, and though there are other places, including his next door neighbour, that sells this dish, the original 119 stall is still the one to go. I have been informed that others like the Sembawang zhe char stall goes for twice the price.

Having no qualms to go for the original, the fish is just amazingly fresh. You must eat every part of the fish head, from the eyeball to the gelatinous skin and parts that tastes like the most pristine of oceans.

Then, there is the sauce. The Thai inspired influence is evident in the strong flavours of sweet, spicy and sour. Underneath is a glimmer of bean paste to give it some savoury anchor.

Finally, a lethal kick of spice to up the ante for the heat quotient will ensure that you will be sweating with gastronomic joy throughout the consumption of the dish. I almost forgot, there is also a generous splattering of crisp fried lard chunks to inject a swoon of porky love.

Nothing subtle here. Everything that Chinese zhe char cooking is famous for is evident here. Bold and strong flavours, coupled with the freshest of protein to ensure a satisfying time for one and all.

Best to have a bowl of rice to down it with, but trust me, this is one fish head you will not forget soon. In fact, I am just counting down the minutes before I am back for more.

Seng Kee 119 Steamed Fish Head in Hot Sauce
335 Smith Street
Chinatown Complex
#02-190 Blue Zone

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