The Nov 2009 Makansutra forum dinner was held at Whampoa Food Street (Keng) Fish Head Steamboat Eating House aka WFSKFHSEH (aka whattaf-ingmouthful!). Easier known as Whampoa Keng for short. The food is decent, down-to-earth and without pretensions. They seemed to have some trouble handling our big crowd of over 70 diners, but it was a good meal.
We started with some really good "Hae Cho" or deep-fried prawn roll. I like that the filling was peppery and had coarsely chopped ingredients rather than a pulverised paste. The beancurd skin is fried to a roaring crisp - always a bonus in my books!
Charcoal steamboat is the signature dish here. I'm not a fan of steamboat but I have to concede the soup stock is indeed delicious. I had at least three bowls of the soup! However, folks at a neighbouring table felt that their Rangoon Road branch served a better version.
We had the sliced fish version, which came with lots of ingredients - thick chunks of "batang" fish, vegetables, fried yam slices, seaweed and and large pieces of "ti por" (dried fish - see the dark piece in left photo). It's a small pity that the fish was not the freshest catch but the stock made everything tasty.
Fish lip with broccoli and mushroom - I was intrigued by the name. I was picturing tiny slivers of aqua-puckers. Then the dish arrived. These large, chewy, gelatinous yellow slabs are the lips of some fish? I'd be afraid to see the rest of the fish! Certainly is unusual but not my favourite thing. I'd go for fish maw instead any day.
Salted Egg Prawns - these were incredibly rich in colour and taste. Thick, crusty batter coated with sandy salted egg yolk. There was a distinct taste of curry powder too, complemented by the finely shredded kaffir lime leaves.
Yam Basket with Prawns - this gorgeous photo is taken by a long lost friend of mine who came for the dinner. We have not seen each other for 10 years! Wow, he's better at using my camera than I am! Look at the composition and nice depth of field he managed to get! I'm reminded that I have much, much more to learn.
Oh the yam basket is fantastic, by the way. And I mean the yam ring itself - it didn't really need the filling, it was good enough to eat on its own. I feel like taking a bite out of this photo...I love yam rings.
Prawn paste chicken - one of the better ones I've had. Everything deep-fried here seems to be super deep-fried. It's all so supercrispy!
Black pepper pork chop - by this time, we were all quite full. Well, we drank a lot of soup earlier! I did feel that the seasoning in this dish was "too busy" - too many flavour elements muddying the taste.
The "Kong Bak Pau" or Braised pork belly slices with steamed buns (in the background). The pork was fabulous, but the buns were still semi-hard. I think they were rushing the dishes (it was getting late) and were not able to steam the buns properly for such a large number of guests. But the pork slices were really well-executed.
Hotplate Venison - very tenderized and robustly seasoned, this goes best with rice. Yup, there's always lots of meat in the lineup for these dinners! Sorry I did not get a good photo of this dish. But it was very popular, gone in a flash.
The final carb. Fried Tang Hoon that's surprisingly not oily! It was delicately flavoured, so it probably is meant as a base for other dishes. I like that they gave lots of shredded fresh vegetables, which nearly makes this a salad! There are also bits of the "ti por" that add a burst of flavour here and there.
Fresh Fruit Platter to cleanse the palate. After a heavy meal, this is the best dessert.
All in all, a wonderful meal, with more than a few dishes competently done. I'm filing this place as worth coming back to.
Main Outlet: 556 Balestier Road, Singapore 329872
Branch: 116/118 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218394
Both open daily
Mon-Fri: 11am-3pm, 5pm-11pm
Sat-Sun & PH: 11am-11pm