Cheap and good — too many claim it, yet few actually live up to it. Cheaper food is often found at the sacrifice of quality or quantity of meat. However, not here, not in the dim underbelly of Cheng San Market and Cooked Food Centre.
San Yuan Gourmet, an unassuming stall with no snaking queue dishes out bowls of fishball noodles ($2) with all the trimmings you’d expect in a bowl of this comforting hawker dish. Five fishballs bobbing around in a bowl of soup and a bowlful of noodles coated in a blend of vinegar, chilli, fried pork lard and even ketchup if you’re that sort of person.
There’s no claim to making the fishballs by hand or using premium fish for the said fishballs here. So food snobs, you may stop reading now. This is however, affordable and satisfying, a rarity in our expensive city.
Whetting your appetite with these puns, we won’t stop at $2 fishball noodles. Being such a baller I decided to get more — balls. Fishballs that is. For $3 you get a total of 10 fishballs and a bowl of noodles of your choice. Mee pok, mee kia, yellow noodles, bee hoon and the works.
Taste wise, the fishballs won’t match up to big boys like Finest Song Kee , and you shouldn’t expect them to. However, for the price tag it’s worth it. Because nothing tastes quite as good as a good deal and satisfying food.
If you’re in need of some variety, there are meatballs available when you’re craving more robust flavours packed into a sphere.
Laksa ($2) and bak chor mee ($3) are available as well. But, craning my neck around to get a feel of what everyone else was eating, it was clear that fishball noodles wins by a mile. Sure, there were a few souls tucking into a bowl of bak chor mee, which is essentially almost the same thing as fishball noodles. If you replaced the fishballs with pork.
The laksa, however, was nowhere to be seen. Peaking into the stall hoping to catch a glimpse of a bubbling pot of laksa broth, I didn’t spot one. It’s probably there, somewhere, waiting to be opened up to bless a bowl of noodles, cockles and fishcake with its rich and spicy coconut broth.
Expected damage: $2 – $5