Last Updated: February 22, 2021
Food is celebratory. Everyone knows it, and that’s why we eat on occasions that deserve gravitas. I’d tell you all about my go-tos for cheery, high-spirited dining, but I find it decidedly more apt to show it through dinner at Fatty Fong.
This is a zi char joint through and through. It’s not the sort of place you’d stumble across in ION Orchard whilst clutching bulky bags from Footlocker and Uniqlo. No, this one’s nestled deep in the heartlands, where scouring for new eats usually occurs via word-of-mouth as opposed to blinking Telegram notifs. I’m not saying one’s better than the other, but institutions like this are often forced to rely on a returning customer base who aren’t there for the online buzz.
And that’s why its constancy proves all the more impressive. Fatty Fong Seafood Restaurant serves up everything from stir-fry to bubbling claypots in this quiet corner of Bedok. It’s dependable cooking that caters for both the primmest of occasions and the most casual of lunches.
A giant menu and pocket-friendly price points make the offerings here suitable for anyone and everyone—and it shows. There are hungry twenty-somethings noshing on sharing plates of prawn paste chicken and wok-kissed hor fun, while elsewhere, tables of older folk indulging in spirited conversation and foamy beer mugs.
The kitchen is certainly kept busy on a weekday night. Amidst all the heavy, bustling chatter of the coffeeshop, there’s vigorous wok tossing and plate clanking that audibly pierce the atmosphere. It’s undeniably lively, and what properly satisfying meal isn’t?
Well, I am at Fatty Fong, a purveyor of all things zi char. It would be blasphemous not to kick off my evening with the plainly named Fried Rice (S$4/S$7/S$10). Let us waddle past one too many Uncle Roger references and treat this plate as is, because what it is is bloody delicious.
Strands of swirled egg, chopped barbeque pork, and sprinklings of shrimp culminate in this aggressively flavourful serving of wok-flung rice. This colourful mound of grains stuns my palate with its savoury-sweet notes and lightly smoky aroma, and I’m gleefully dazed. It’s not your sambal or salted fish variant (both of which are also on the menu), but rather a wholly unique iteration that’s fitting of its ironically fundamental moniker.
A rapidly expanding waistline is all part of this job description, though it’s heavily expedited by another one of their carb-heavy signatures—Fatty Fong Longevity Noodle (S$5.50). I’ve explored the rice side of things here, so in all rightful manner, a serving of noodles is due.
This one’s definitely an eye-catcher, with a fistful of dark bee hoon wrapped in a thin sheet of egg. Yes, it’s mee pattaya like you’ve never seen before, but I’m afraid the visual novelty is all it has to offer.
I’m left a little dismayed on the first bite. It’s fiercely bland, to put it bluntly. The strands of rice vermicelli here desperately need a whack of seasoning. You know how it goes—spare the salt, spoil the noodles.
Did it improve my lifespan? I doubt it. For now, I’ll ask you to skip this. There are much better ways to spend those precious calories of yours.
In textbook zi char fashion, the next dish comes by way of the ubiquitous Coffee Pork Ribs (S$9/S$13/S$17). An ominous aesthetic of shimmering dark brown sits on this plate, though I’m not the least bit intimidated.
Slabs of shallow-fried pork arrive doused in a gloriously thick coffee-laden sauce that’s deeply sweet, smoky, and tangy all at once. It’s wonderfully aromatic, with a gentle bitterness of coffee seeping through on each mouthful. Fatty Fong’s version is boneless as well, so you can chomp down unabashedly. Can it get any better than this?
Maybe it can, with this serving of Seafood Beancurd (S$12). Here, you get a playfully presented sculpture of deep-fried tofu submerged in a viscous pool of seafood gravy. Yes, it’s very Titanic in its disposition. Mine arrives flaming at the bottom, which keeps this mini wok of goodness bubbling hot.
It’s more than just theatrics. Textures here are brilliant, with silken beancurd and plump deveined prawns to boot. I’m gasping at the smoothness of the tofu, and am painfully resisting grabbing the wok and slurping up the entire dish, broccoli and all. Come here and get this. That’s not a request.
I end the night with a plate of Prawn Fritter With Chinese Leeks (S$13/S$20), another one of Fatty Fong’s unique creations. A mix of minced prawn meat, chives, and careful coatings of batter makes this one an academic discourse in all things deep-fried. The outside is thin, flaky, and shatteringly crisp, which is lovingly paired with a savoury prawn mix. Dunk it in the sweet chilli sauce for a lasting high that’ll make all your sore throats worth it.
You wouldn’t dine like this in an air-conditioned space of high ceilings, lazy susans, and packets of wet tissue you’re charged for. And there’s nothing to miss. Over at Fatty Fong, I’m slapping on sauces and gravy onto my plate. It’s a busy affair that leaves me acutely engaged and promptly satiated.
When I’m done with the food, an order of iced bandung awaits. Or maybe I’ll get another plate of fried rice. After all, there’s no judgement in this vibrant scene of fuss-free, no-frills indulgence that offers a whole lot of delicious without hurting your wallet.
Expected damage: S$5 – S$15 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
Fatty Fong Seafood Restaurant
56 New Upper Changi Road, #01-1300, Singapore 461056
56 New Upper Changi Road, #01-1300, Singapore 461056