October 18, 2016
In August, we mourned the apparent loss of Song Kee Fishball Noodles, fast-forward to September and the much beloved stall has returned as Finest Songkee’s Cuisine with Chua Chin Heng (Ah Heng), cousin of the previous owner who spent the past 20 years learning the trade now at the helm.
Jumping straight to the burning question on everyone’s mind, are the purveyors of great handmade fishballs, meatballs and the much loved fish dumplings (hee kiaw) still making them as great as before?
Though the new team seems to shy away from being compared to their predecessors. Besides the new name and signboards that come along with it, the few dishes on the menu are made well with passion.
Catching the staff just before they opened for business, we got a chance to find out what’s cooking in and out of the kitchen.
Without imposing too much, we learnt that the new team behind Finest Songkee’s Cuisine are ambitious and looking not only to preserve the family’s recipes and techniques but add to their repertoire of fish and fish-based dishes.
A queue formed almost instantly when the shutters rolled up.
Always a sucker for generous servings, it was a joy to see the portions filled up their bowls well. This one was filled up well and we couldn’t wait to tuck in.
Its mee pok dry ($4/6/8) stands out from the countless bowls other bowls of mee pok dry or the very closely related porky bak chor mee.
Each strand of noodle coated in the savoury and vinegary sauce, it’s the other ingredients or “liao“, known affectionally in local hawker lingo, that really make it shine.
This didn’t come as a huge surprise as the new establishment is after all, essentially Song Kee at its core. Fishball, meatball and fish dumpling (hee kiaw) soup ($4/6/8) exemplify all that there is to love about keeping traditions alive.
Perfectly imperfect, no two dumplings, fishballs or meatballs are shaped the same. Once in your mouth, Finest Songkee’s Cuisine’s desire to produce the best damned fish dumplings and fishball becomes apparent.
The fish dumplings — filled with pork and wrapped in a skin made with a mixture of fish and flour, they have a good chew to them, with the savoury pork filling adding a nice burst of flavour when biting into it.
What about the fishballs and meatballs, springy? Sure. But for me, the fact that you can actually taste the fish in the fishball is the greatest indicator of quality food, with the same going for the meatballs, which are perfectly savoury. Lots of fish and meat and not a whole lot of flour.
It’s often seemingly simple dishes that are the hardest to “do well”, not because they have a thousand steps to them but, simply because it takes a special sort of passion to want to do something well when so many shortcuts can be taken with all the technology at our disposal.
A whole lot of self-control is also needed to stand out from the market (of fishballs) without losing the plot and turning it into something like cheese filled fishballs.
So, head down to Finest Songkee for fans who have been craving it for the longest time.
Expected damage: $5 – $12