Chiu Chau Lou – Heartwarming Fish Soups Great for Rainy Days
Launched a few months back, Chiu Chau Lou boasts a medley of soupy seafood dishes. The owner is an old uncle who has over 40 years of experience in cooking. He decided to set up a shop after returning from his trip to China. The uncle is really friendly and he will give you recommendations if you ask. He told me that he used to teach cooking but decided that his passion still lies in cooking. He specializes in old-school Teochew fish porridge and fish soup – a flavor difficult to find these days.
They use Spanish Mackerel (aka Batang fish) but they also have Red-spotted Grouper Soup if you prefer grouper. Their broth takes hours to simmer and that is the secret to their slurp-worthy dishes. The owner starts preparation at 6am daily. He also doesn’t use pork or lard in his dishes. While he communicates in Cantonese, it’s interesting to note that he sells soupy Teochew porridge and not the gooey Cantonese porridge which I prefer. If you can’t decide what to get, you can opt for the Sea Jumbo which is basically a seafood soup that contains every kind of seafood they have.
I ordered the $4 Teochew Fish Porridge ($4/$5/$6) and was pleasantly surprised. I reckon the secret lies in the broth. It is very light, but doesn’t come off as bland. The broth carries a slight sweetness from the seafood that it has been simmered with. The plump rice grains aren’t too mushy but have the right amount of bite to them. Sieve through the unimpressive-looking bowl of porridge and you’ll notice small bits of seafood such as anchovies and even lala swimming in the broth. The batang fish was superb, and extremely fresh. However, I thought that they could be a little more generous with the fish as they were with the rice/porridge.
I decided to go back for a bowl of their 2 Tone Slice Fish Noodles ($4/$5/$6), but with additional ingredients ($9). The usual fish soup comes with fresh Batang fish, fried fish pieces and your choice of bee hoon. I added fish maw and lala to mine. The broth is slightly different because the uncle cooks all the ingredients together with the broth before serving. Deep flavours are present but the broth is not as sweet as that of the Teochew Porridge. The ingredients are fresh and are prime examples of what good seafood should taste like. I especially liked the fish maw; it was crunchy and thick enough. The flavors are simple but they exude an old-school taste that is unique to this stall.
If you go during lunch time, like I did, you’ll notice that a good number of their patrons belong to the older generation. However, I’m pretty sure that the younger generation would enjoy their food, too.
Chiu Chau Lou
Address: 335 Smith Street, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, #02-132, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 1130am to 7pm daily. Closed on Mondays.
MissTamChiak.com made anonymous visit and paid its own meal at the stall featured here.
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