An Ji – Fish Head Specialists Who Whip Up a Mean Bowl of Fish Head Soup
I am a self-professed fan of fish soup. So, when I stumbled upon this zichar place which apparently sells great fish head bee hoon in Chinatown, I knew I had to visit one day. An Ji sits in Chinatown Food Centre and spans two storefronts. The words ‘Recommended on TV Steamed Fish Head/ Fish Head Noodle’ are displayed prominently on their signboard. I guess when you make it to national television, that speaks volumes about your food!
It was not quite yet lunchtime when I visited, and the stall was still quiet. Attempting to strike up a conversation with one of the shop attendants, I politely asked how long An Ji has been opened for. A surly “Open very long already” made it difficult to continue the conversation. I ordered the Crispy Beef Noodles ($5) and Fish Head Noodle ($5). A quick glance at their menu would lead one to think that An Ji’s strong suit is in seafood, but the shop attendant corrected me and shared that they actually specialise in fish head. An Ji uses sheng yu, or toman fish, for their fish head. Toman fish is commonly used in sliced fish soup, and hawkers will normally marinate and deep fry them. Interesting fact: toman fish has wound healing properties! Who knew right?
Truth be told, I am not a fan of sang meen (crispy noodle) but they are always a crowd favourite. The sang meen at An Ji was really crispy and had a good crunch. I prefer to drench the noodles in the gravy to soften it, so as to spare my teeth and gums the extra effort! The beef slices were tender and well cooked, and not overly chewy. Unlike the beef hor fun in some places where the beef is only recognisable by its texture, the beef at An Ji has that distinctive, strong beefy aroma assuring you that it’s the real deal. The individual components were all done competently but overall, the Crispy Beef Noodles lacked that ‘wow’ factor that would make it a superb beef sang meen.
True to An Ji’s reputation as fish head specialists, the Fish Head Noodle left a deeper impression. It was so amazingly rich and milky that the full intensity of the fish soup can be tasted in every sip! It is clearly evident why toman fish is an obvious choice for fish soup — the meat in the fish head chunks was very fine and sweet, with the deep-fried texture adding an extra fragrance. This was a very impressive bowl of fish head soup that I will come back for! My only gripe is that I have to continuously keep my eyes peeled for sharp bones due to the nature of fish head. The presentation of the fish soup also needs more work. Plastic containers, really?
And, An Ji concludes yet another chapter in my hunt for the best fish soup in Singapore. Is it the best out there? Nah I don’t think so, but it sure is a strong contender!
Address: 335 Smith Street, Chinatown Food Centre, #02-193/194, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 1130am to 230pm and 430pm to 1030pm. Closed on Wednesdays.
MissTamChiak.com made an anonymous visit and paid its own meal at the stall featured here.
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