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Food

Matasoh Fishball & Mincemeat Noodles: Fishball Noodles From The 1950s With 3rd-Gen Successor At Whampoa Market

Last Updated: April 1, 2020

Written by Nicole Lam

There is nothing like a resurgence of a popular stall to whet your appetite. Matasoh Fishball & Mincemeat Noodles at  Whampoa Makan Place is a third-generation stall like no other.

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Plus, Matasoh is not a name you hear every day and so colour me intrigued. Though Matasoh’s mascot is your lovable aunty selling fishball noodles, the ones operating the stall are four avuncular gentlemen in matching uniforms.

Friendly and ready to serve you a piping bowl of fishball noodles, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on what Matasoh Fishball & Mincemeat Noodles had to offer.

I spoke to Anthony (second from the left) to get the lowdown on Matasoh Fishball & Mincemeat Noodles. If the rapport between the four gentlemen wasn’t evident, they are family.

It turns out that the story behind Matasoh Fishball & Mincemeat Noodles is quite a unique one. It always begins with a strong woman, and that was the late Mdm Soh. After the Second World War, Mdm Soh was a hawker at a time where the hawker trade was, shall we say, a little rustic.

You know, where there were roadside stalls, makeshift tents and a lot of hollering. The hawker life in its purest form, if you will. To add even more flavour to the mise en scène at the time, there were constant disruptions from secret societies at that time. Very little protection was afforded to hawkers, so Mdm Soh decided to rally her fellow hawkers to work together with police so they can safeguard their livelihood.

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It worked.

Owing to Mdm Soh’s good relations with the police, she was nicknamed ‘Matasoh’. ‘Mata’ is the Malay word for police while ‘Soh’ was her family name. With restructuring efforts underway, their stall moved to Lorong 25 in Geylang. Soon after, Mdm Soh retired.

One of her sons (pictured), who is Anthony’s brother-in-law, picked up the fishball-making business and was supplying to various stalls. Egged on by Mdm Soh’s colourful tales of being a hawker and the confidence that the family had in the fishball-making business, the Soh family decided to dip their toes in hawker business again.

“In a way, it was a way to carry on the legacy of mother (Mdm Soh),” Anthony relates—an excellent notion indeed.

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Given that Anthony’s brother-in-law was well-versed in the art of making fishballs, he modernised and tweaked the recipe. Anthony tells me that anyone can make fishballs, if you want them bouncier and tighter, all you have to do is add more flour.

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Anthony jokes and remarks, “You can look up all these tricks on the Internet.”

I couldn’t help but concur, but he tells me it truly is the hand and the ingredients that differentiate mediocre fishballs from really great ones. Not only are the fishballs fromMatasoh Fishball & Mincemeat Noodles handmade, but they are also made with 100% yellowtail meat.

A little tidbit that might not mean much now, but it will later.

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After chatting for a bit, I was ready to try all that Matasoh Fishball & Mincemeat Noodles had to offer. Principally, Matasoh Fishball & Mincemeat Noodles only has two main items. One of their main stars is the Soh Special (S$4.50/ S$5.50) which on the surface looks like any other bak chor mee but with an addition of an onsen egg.

An attempt to ride the food trend waves, but also pay homage to how eggs were treated as a commodity those days.

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As per onsen egg conventions, you have to break it and let the thick jammy egg yolk flow out.

After ensuring that the egg sufficiently coats every curly strand, you are ready for your first bite.

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With a piquant tangy and spicy sauce, these al dente noodles were meant to be slurped.

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With their noodles already a win in my book, I had to start on the crown jewels of the bowl. Their fishballs were big and unevenly shaped—a trademark of their handmade quality.

Springy and tender, these orbs were as light as air. Not to mention, given that they were 100% made of yellowtail fish, there was a sweetness that is unlike any fishball I’ve tried. This is an attribute that Matasoh is very proud of and rightly so.

If you notice, you can see how wonderfully aerated they are—a testament to their bounciness.

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If fishballs get a little too pedestrian for you (how could they ever?), you can try Matasoh’s meatball variation. Similar to Ah Hua Teochew Fishball Noodle, these are fishballs mixed with a little bit of seasoned pork. Coarsely ground for texture, I enjoyed these quite immensely.

With good bite and savoury pork bits, I can see myself gravitating towards these—all in all, a moreish bowl that will leave you wanting more.

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The other starlet of Matasoh is their Hua Tiao Sesame Mee Sua Soup (S$4/ S$5). Consisting of a treasure trove of ingredients from fishballs, pork liver, minced pork and pork lard, this was the perfect rainy day meal.

The choice of mee sua was an uncommon but deliberate one. An homage to how Mdm Soh used to peddle her noodles, mee sua was also valued for its smoothness and delicacy.

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Like any good fishball noodle connoisseur, you start with the soup first. Matasoh’s soup was clear, full-bodied and wonderfully complex. First, there was the freshness that is due to the ‘fishball water’ that Matasoh add to their pork broth. Clean and sweet, I could certainly have this every day.

Not to mention, the addition of hua tiao (Chinese rice wine) is a game-changer. The Chinese rice wine adds more depth to an already stellar soup. Each spoonful was scrumptious; I couldn’t get enough.

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Now, if you’re a fan of pork liver, you’re in luck. Pork liver tends to be a slightly polarising protein. I was firmly in the ‘I don’t like pork liver camp’, given the intense gaminess pork liver often possesses. I decided that given the quality of the noodles, I would at least give the liver a try.

Surprisingly, these liver slices agreed with me. Pleasantly rich and creamy with no nasty iron aftertaste, I was even fishing for pieces to nibble on by the end of it.


As a newly-retired man, Anthony has found a new calling in hawker life. Not to mention, this new venture between his brother-in-law and his nephew has indeed brought them even closer together.

The noodles of Matasoh Fishball & Mincemeat Noodles got my stomach, but how they got here had my heart.

Expected Damage: S$4.50 – S$5 per pax

Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Matasoh Fishball Mincemeat Noodles

90 Whampoa Drive , #01-54, Whampoa Makan Place, Singapore 320090

Price
Our Rating 4/5

Matasoh Fishball Mincemeat Noodles

90 Whampoa Drive , #01-54, Whampoa Makan Place, Singapore 320090

Operating Hours: 10am - 9pm (Wed to Mon), Closed on Tue

Operating Hours: 10am - 9pm (Wed to Mon), Closed on Tue
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