Gu Ma Jia – Best Assam Fish Head
I enjoy sit down meals with owners. Not only can we mingle and know each other better, we can also know how the dishes were cooked. I think that is important in every food articles. As a food writer, we don’t have to be culinary trained, but at least we need to have knowledge of the dishes we tried.
So, I visited Gu Ma Jia one weekday evening for a tasting session. Gwyn and her mother (whom they call her Gu Ma) greeted me warmly. My aunty went with me and they were shocked:”Huh? Two people only how to eat?”I replied:”It’s okay, just whip up a few of your popular dishes!”
Just like Miss Tam Chiak is a easy-to-remember name, Gu Ma Jia is also easy to remember! Their logo is the exact duplication of Gwyn’s mother. Why is this restaurant called “Gu Ma Jia” then? Because Gwyn’s mother has 7 siblings. All their kids call her “Gu Ma” (姑妈, aunty). Gu Ma cooks very well and the big family will always gather at her house (姑妈家) for dinner, hence this place is called “Gu Ma Jia”.
Gu Ma used to work as a hawker in Tampines, selling wanton noodles. But she gave up the stall and opened a restaurant in Shanghai, managed by her relative. She will supply the recipe and a chef will cook. The restaurant in Shanghai was closed down when they decided to set up this restaurant in a small street near Potong Pasir from November 2009. Trust me, my parents stay in Potong Pasir but has never heard about this place!
The Assam Fish Head ($25, half head) is the star item in the menu and it is a MUST TRY! Gu Ma’s brother is one of the chef in the kitchen. And he is the only person who knows how to cook the Assam Fish Head! That is how secretive the recipe is. Actually, when they first open the restaurant, they didn’t pick Assam Fish Head as their signature. But many customers love it and it is a must for every table, and hence it became a signature.
The restaurant doesn’t have a supplier, so Gu Ma’s brother will go to the market early in the morning to choose the freshest red snapper head (of a specific size) and vegetables. They don’t use frozen food, by the way.
So what’s so special about their Assam Fish Head? The homemade assam sauce uses 13 spices! These include chilli padi, red chilli, little chilli, assam, lemon juice etc, blend them together and fry for 3 hours!
The red snapper fish head is nestled in a sea of reddish gravy with lady fingers and tomatoes. IT WAS SHIOK! The Assam Fish Head had enough kick to feel a slight sting on the tongue, but still able to eat it without perspiring. I may not have tried many assam fish head in Singapore but I really like this one!
Aunty cannot really take spicy dishes so she preferred Cereal Sotong with Curry Flavour ($20). The sotong are cut into pieces instead of the usual sotong rings.
The oats and curry powder were fried together till golden brown, when mix with the sotong, gave a crunchy flavour. I felt the oats were abit salty that night though. Do eat it with their homemade belachan sauce. Ommmm…
I was abit receptive when Gwyn ordered Crispy Bean-jal ($12) because I am not a fan for brinjal. But when the dish came, I became a convert. “Those dark brown pieces are brinjal? Are you kidding me?”
No no kidding, the brinjal were cut into very very thin pieces, dipped into egg white and flour and deep fried before cooking with the french beans. Though the french beans were abit old, the deep fried brinjal was indeed creative.
Then, a hot plate appeared at my table. It has a strong wine aroma and was indeed an interesting sight to see the waitress open up the aluminum foil, as though it was a present for me.
So the “present” was Kyoto Pork Ribs ($20). Why the hot plate came with fire? Because the chef has added some rose wine at the top, so that the aroma of the wine will encompass the outer layer of the pork ribs.
I was worried that the ribs would be tough but no, it was well marinated for hours, hence the meat tasted juicy and tender when cooked with vinegar sauce and ginger. The sweet and sour taste was just right.
I am a big fan of black glutinous rice so ordering dessert was easy for me. The Black Glutinous Rice with Ice Cream ($4) was yummy. The black glutinous rice came from Taiwan and it has a rather smooth texture. When mixed with the red beans and ice cream, it was an addictive combination.
White Fungus with ginko nuts ($3.50) is a new dessert that is not yet in the menu when we went, but I am sure it is available daily now. White Fungus with ginko nuts is a dessert that we eat only during Chinese New Year or some other auspicious occasions because its sweetness symbolises sweet blessings. This is a nutritious dessert which is believed to have a cooling effect and also in improving ones complexion.
The menu here is extensive and rather messy, because there will always be new dishes created by Gu Ma. Gu Ma doesn’t cook, she has passed the recipe to the chef in the kitchen while she handles the operation of the restaurant. With so many dishes in the menu, you got to pick the right dishes so as to enjoy the dining experience.
Remember, try the Assam Fish Head!
Set Lunch Promo @ $6.50 only
(for dine-in from 11am to 3pm, Mondays to Fridays except public holiday)
Many varieties: rice set, ramen set, mee sua set
Set comes with lime juice or ice lemon tea
Add on value on side dishes at $2
Gu Ma Jia
Address: 45 Tai Thong Crescent
Tel: +65 6285 2023
*Delivery charge at $3 per location per delivery. Free delivery for order above $200.*
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