Han Kee Fish Soup vs Tai Seng Fish Soup

han kee fish soup tai seng fish soup
Han Kee Fish Soup (Amoy Street Food Centre) Tai Seng Fish Soup (Ubi Rd 3, 408652)

Han Kee’s is thick and comes in big chunks, which many seem to view as a positive in and of itself; friends and relatives alike describe it as “value for money” and “generous”. However, the fish slices are very roughly chopped and uneven in size so naturally they do not cook evenly. It’s certainly not extremely tough, but it would be fair to say that most pieces are overcooked except for the naturally more tender parts of the fish. An accurate description would be to say that the fish slices have A LOT of bite, but not in a nice bouncy way like Soon Hock (Marble Goby) or even Turbot, it is closer to the texture of eating very tender chicken. Personally, this is definitely not the texture I want from fish, but perhaps to others this is what they enjoy so to each his own.
As for taste, Han Kee’s marinade and seasoning are both very minimal so you still get a fishy taste or 鱼腥味 from the fish slices, despite the freshness of the fish.


Tai Seng’s is thin and rather small, but all the pieces are sliced evenly and cooked evenly. There is a nice translucency to the slices as you pick it up with the chopsticks, and the fish just about holds itself together. Today’s fish was a “9.5” as I described it, but for the observant there is a noticeable variation depending on the fish brought in that day. Bigger means less smooth and more bite, smaller (my preference) means smoother and almost melt in your mouth.

Tai Seng’s unique oil-based marinade almost completely removes the 鱼腥味 and make the fish smoother, and the fish is also seasoned generously. It is not an exaggeration to say that no other stalls I have tried comes close.


Han Kee’s soup follows the traditional fish soup base of including tomatoes and lettuce, which results in a very light tasting broth. However even for a traditional soup base I felt it was extremely bland to the point where it tasted like boiled water. Apart from lettuce, there isn’t any other ingredient in the soup so it became quite a tedious affair trying to finish my $9 bowl.


Tai Seng’s is an improvised unique version which includes 小白菜 and fried egg sheets which make their soup richer and more flavorful. The fried egg sheets also add a very nice contrast in texture to the smooth fish, in addition to the pieces of steamed tofu added, so the overall eating experience is quite well rounded. For a person who generally dislikes vegetables, the 小白菜 is quite sweet and surprisingly palatable.

Final thoughts

I certainly will not make patronize the stall again because neither the soup nor the fish slices is to my liking. I don’t think that I went on a bad day, it is just that the characteristics of the fish and the soup do not appeal to me.

Final thoughts

During all my countless trips there, the consistency in standard is really something worth appreciating. It is no surprise that until now, I have not found any fish soup that approaches their standard.


Stream of consciousness 4

(The intro and ending of every stream of consciousness post will be a tribute to dailygrace)

“Hey guys, you know what day it is – Sexy Friday, Sexy Friday, Sexy Friday, SEXY FRIIDAY!!”

Note to self: This needs to be published in less than 3 hours so the DailyGrace intro makes sense. Edit: WOW you just solved the time issue by taking out many subjects and reorganizing them into individual posts. Thank God I don’t do this for a living.

1. This past week or so two facebook posts caught my attention. The first was A’s who shared in my primary school class facebook group.


and the other was by JPC, a schoolmate notorious for both good and bad deeds, with a notable one being him touching the posterior of an attractive music teacher.


In both cases, ostensibly the writers intended to convey a message addressing a larger point, but I just cannot help but feel that their intention has been marred by making the post more about themselves than the larger issue. Admittedly especially for the first post, perhaps my view has been clouded by my personal opinion of him, but I do think that there are still visible traces of this “making the post about me but disguising it as not”. But the second one is really fucking obvious. Unquestionably he has done a good deed by stepping in to stop an incident which he disagreed with, but I think it would be hard to argue that the most effective way of spreading the message of stopping sexual harrassment would be to share a post giving yourself a pat on the back for being a hero. (Perhaps his intention of doing so was that if he could do it then anyone can, but I would say that it is highly unlikely) It is my sincere belief that writers seeking to put forth a larger point should put themselves in the background and put the message and/or experiences of the victims in the foreground. If that is truly their intention. It pains me that self serving individuals capitalize on such opportunities for likes, and pains me even more that people seem to buy it. But maybe I am being cynical, as my teacher puts it. Regardless it is a good sign that articles like Ellie Taylor’s Topless Selfies and Chinese Takeaways are still being written. Thank you

2. Yesterday’s JB trip was quite fun. Dim Sum at Canton-I was quite horrible, special mentions go to the custard in the 流沙包 for being almost completely solid and inedible. The only acceptable (based on a restaurant dim sum standard) dishes seemed to be the 皮蛋瘦肉粥 which is always enjoyable when it is well seasoned and the stir fried beef kway teow. Ant man 2 was brilliant! (Review in another post after I watch Ant man 1) Quite a nice warm fuzzy feeling (I sound like the Grinch) when Rico (Interestingly the only name of a personal friend I have not made it more difficult to identify), Zea and the Wong brothers all really enjoyed the banana cake I bought (and delivered!) to them. It is quite weird though how Rico’s family don’t seem to have much planning when dividing food, the first time his sister didn’t get to eat it and the second time he didn’t get it. But the most amusing reaction was probably Zea texting me 5 minutes after she got the cake that it was all gone. And it hadn’t really crossed my mind until yesterday that being awake at 1am is quite a hassle especially for those who already start working. (I think this complete lack of organization is really in the style of Grace Helbig’s Stream of Consciousness videos, so that’s a good thing). And of course it’s always funny to watch Jon gorge himself on two plates of noodles at Ho Seng Kee (nothing in that place was my cup of tea). Also will there ever be a time when we visit City Square and NOT buy Lavender’s kaya and rum and raisin pastry?

3. Ok let’s with a more meaningful anecdote about the importance of employer-maid communication. Recently my paternal cousin Y had to sack her maid because she borrowed money from loansharks who went to harrass her. Of course the maid was at fault, but my cousin should have known communicated more. Anyway the main point of the story is how differently my maternal aunt M handled the situation. Her maid confided in her that she faced monetary issues because natural disasters (which villages the Philippines seems to be prone to) meant that her house needed to be rebuilt. And so she willingly lent the maid money, and deducted a portion of the loan from her monthly salary. In addition, she also helped the maid open an account to save $100 every month, so that she can bring back a significant amount of money for her children when she eventually returns home. Blind proponents of individual freedoms will argue about how the mandatory saving account takes away the maid’s liberty yada yada, but this looking out for others and wanting the best for them is the sort of  interpersonal relationship and management that I want to see and implement in future.

What’s up fuc-

Food this week

A recap of the more memorable food I have had over the course of this week. Won’t escape your (my) notice that there’s a truckload of Dim Sum, and my fondness for Dim Sum is something that I only examined more closely in recent years. Back when my grandmother was still alive, our extended family ate a lot of Dim Sum during the weekends, and always at better restaurants like Crystal Jade, Jumbo, Carlton etc. Which means that I have had the fortune (or misfortune as my mum puts it) of having rather high expectations of Dim Sum, and probably explains why I am quite reluctant to go to places like Swee Choon or even Yum Cha.

1. Dim sum at Sengkang Canton Paradise with mum and sis

I am aware that this is a dish that many consider quite boring and tend not to order, like Jol and Zea yesterday, and in the past I recall thinking the same way. But that day I suddenly had a craving for it and no delicacy in a world can beat a craving (note to self: really must look more into this), perhaps also partly because of the Mantou scene in 功夫廚神, but recently I have begun to appreciate it more. Not only is this a dish where the difference between mediocre ones and restaurant standard ones is night and day (then again which Dim Sum isn’t…maybe chicken feet), but there is something so simple yet satisfying about having a nice fluffy rice flour bun encapsulating a mixture of sweet chopped pork.

Well seasoned porridge. Also didn’t appreciate the really crunchy youtiao slices before this, but when it is soaked for a while in the porridge the soft crunchy texture is really enjoyable, and the you tiao itself is extremely flavorful as well. Texture of meatballs were good, light and bouncy, but perhaps could have been more flavorful. Lean pork was exceptional, very soft and tender as though it had been poached.

Initially I thought naming it “Phoenix’s claws” was down to the tendency of Chinese culture to give foods over the top names, but apparently it serves as a descriptive phrase as well because it signifies that the large bones have been taken out. Regardless it’s good, not sure if this is the one that is spicy

Very enjoyable buttery crust, and overall the char siew filling at canton paradise is pretty decent

Not nice
Century egg in porridge not flavorful
猪肠粉 skin not smooth and hard
腐皮卷 too much batter, which is a strange thing really since the batter is completely unnecessary

2. parkway steamboat at Katong with family and grandmother
On the topic of steamboat, I think it is quite difficult for me to eat with others, especially those (like my family who are probably like 99.9% of the world) who really like the community and fun aspect of a steamboat. As my dad puts it, to him it’s fun throwing everything into one pot and seeing what comes out. But to me, it seems much more enjoyable if you are in control over the timings and ensuring nothing is overcooked. Luckily this difference is easily resolved since I have my own pot and the rest of family shares one.

Tomyam base is good, just the right level of spiciness

Managed to poach an egg in the ladle (although a lot of white spilled out since it was so shallow), but the egg yolk was warm and only just a tiny bit solidified, which I think is perfect for steamboat.

Rest of the dishes are acceptable, but the sirloin slices were rather tough since there was so little fat content

3. Peach Garden with mum, Rico and his mum
Not bad
Peking Duck
It’s not the best peking duck you will eat, but it was quite a good price. Actually now that I think about it after all the additional costs are included, perhaps not that much of a steal. Regardless the dish was definitely satisfying, and I thought the presentation of the scallion was quite special. Also, especially after cooking 东坡肉 (recipe out soon), I finally appreciate the oniony perfume that scallions bring.

In addition, we asked for the duck meat to be cooked with the classic Chinese combination of 姜葱, and the meat remained tender and flavorful.

Unlike Canton Paradise, this time the pork meat was shredded like pulled pork which I think makes it slightly inferior, but the century egg is slightly better. Overall still a well seasoned and flavorful bowl of porridge with the crunchy youtiao bits.

Char Siew Bao (Bun was hard and dense, filling not sweet or flavorful)

4. Dim Sum at yi dian xin (Parkway) with family and grandmother
yi dian xin receipt

Most were good, but the mango mochi and custard buns were exceptionally well done. And also the first time I tried this chee cheong fun where the shrimp is wrapped up in a crispy batter. To compensate for this the rice flour skin is no longer as silky and smooth, but the combination of flavor is a real winner. The noodles were a nice surprise though, sadly not al dente but done in quite an authentic HK style where the sauce is light and a bit sweet. Roast meats were bad but the noodles are worth ordering plain or perhaps with wanton/水饺.

chee cheong fun

Shrimps had a weird taste, perhaps this batch wasn’t fresh.
Roast duck and char siew did not have much flavor as well

5. Arnold’s at Hougang Green with 4D
I still maintain that this is the best fried chicken chain in Singapore. It is a tiny bit more tough than Jollibee (second best), but the spices are simple, classic and as it should be. Extremely well seasoned with a slight kick of heat probably from the pepper. Popcorn chicken was good too.

6. Dim Sum at yi dian xin (raffles city) with Jol and Zea
I don’t know what it is but somehow I quite enjoy having dinner with them, despite our rather vast differences. They are rather frugal and 随便 about food, follow social media influencers (I MUST DO A POST ON THIS TERM IT IS DRIVING ME INSANE) and share almost none of my interests. But I think it is because there is a air of maturity about them, there’s no act-cute vibes nor a “notice-me” kind of feeling. (Unlike the gathering at Mr Prata which compared to this I didn’t enjoy as much). Then again it’s like a once or twice a year affair. Oh and I learnt from them that leftover portions of food once everyone has taken an equal share are called “paiseh portions”. And that Jol also finds 凤爪 too visually unappealing to try.

Food was pretty much the same, except the mango mochi somehow wasn’t as mindblowing, but this time the prawns didn’t have that weird taste.

腐皮卷 (exeptionally well seasoned)

Bolo charsiew buns

4 things I have learnt about food this week

  1. Coffee
    Coffee isn’t something I really enjoy or have an interest in, because I don’t really like the bitter taste, but the claim made by Jason Soon, owner of Kim Guan Guan Coffee Trading Pte Ltd, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1nmLcBYOxk) that Singapore’s style of traditional coffee was unique still amazed me. Obviously when analyzed in more detail, it would be more accurate to say that the traditional method of preparing coffee in Singapore is unique to the region here. Nevertheless, the fact that Singapore traditional coffee beans are roasted in caramel (and apparently butter/margarine; not shown in the video) and European style coffee is not is quite a big difference. On hindsight perhaps it seems quite obvious, but i never really considered the difference between “Singapore coffee” and “European coffee”, especially Kopi-O and an Americano which I felt were identical. That video was also the impetus for me driving to try Heap Seng Leong at 430am, the experience recorded here.
  2. Raisins
    Initially, I thought that raisins were made by simply drying grapes but it was just never occurred to me to check. After I watched (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7e8DepWX4_4), I thought it was shocking that I was wrong all this while and only learnt the truth at 24. After doing a little more research, it seems that this method of leaving the grapes on the vine to dry after cutting the cane is called trellis drying, and is a relatively new improvement to raisin production. Very good personal experience of the adage “learning never stops”.
  3. Labels on bottles
    The snug fitting labels on bottles are actually done by a jet of hot stream.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfX9Q871P2Q)
  4. Rock Sugar
    Rock sugar is made by boiling table sugar and letting it crystallize, at least that’s how it is done by one of Singapore’s oldest sugar manufacturers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqWPyK_PGrA)

Bad Beats, Brazil and Breakfast

What a weekend it has been. Bit of a forced alliteration for the title but still, it works for me.

Secondary school friends came over for world cup and poker. Multiples bet was already shaky after France scraped through with a 2-1 win over Australia, ticket was dead after Argentina were held by Iceland. Did pretty well in poker though, managed to extract maximum value after hitting a straight draw in the first hand, held on for a $12 win (pretty good for a $10 buy in). Quite pleased with a few safety plays though, mucking A6 and and a few other trouble hands before I could get sucked in. It’s not surprising that YR and WT view AJ and AQ much more highly than they are worth, but for now I will apply Victoria Coren’s advice where you only continue with two specific flops. Can’t really remember what transpired when I won with KK against two players, but YR is correct when he said that I was quite predicatable with regards to protecting monster pockets, so I need to rethink how to better extract value from made hands though.

The end of me betting on football. Quite a spur of the moment thing to bet with YR that I would stop betting on football forever if Brazil didn’t win Switzerland, and they duly delivered. And thus my betting “career” ends with a whimper as upset after upset happen at the world cup.
final bets.PNG
I don’t really know what to say though, for both the Argentina and Brazil games, the favorites dominated as expected but just couldn’t find that second goal. But a promise a promise and no more betting on football for me.

Finally went to Heap Seng Leong to try the traditional breakfast. Shame I can’t post the short 360° I took, but I will try my best to capture that 30 minute experience I had there. A lot of reviewers have used the term “nostalgia” to describe the initial feeling that they experience when they first step into the place, but I being born in 1995 do not share their sentiments; the closest experience that I have of such run down coffee shops is probably the ones that we walk past in Malaysia without giving much consideration. But even so, anyone will instantly identify it as an anachronism; a relic frozen in time even in comparison to the relatively old New Bridge Road area. Initially I thought it faced the main road as I was looking for it, so it was even more surprising to see such an old coffee shop suddenly come into view. When I walked in there were only 3 people in the coffee shop – the owner, his son and a customer. All stared at me with looks suggesting that I didn’t belong, and my discomfort resulted in me reverting in English and literally saying “breakfast set” as I approached the owner’s son, but I quickly regained my composure and ordering “咖啡,面包,鸡蛋”. I do not think that English would have been lost on the owner’s son, nor is there anything overwhelmingly wrong about ordering in English, but it just felt extremely out of place.
The coffee came first, and I really liked it. Admittedly I don’t really know much about coffee or its appreciation, but I really liked the sweetness, and a really subtle hint of a bitter aftertaste that did not become unpleasant. Next came the bread, which was surprisingly cold when it was served, and I suspected that it was not freshly made. It was still pretty good though, a traditional Singapore loaf with a slightly crisp exterior, kaya that was not overwhelmingly sweet and a generous slab of butter. The eggs were quite a let down, with the yolks being overcooked and most of it solidifying, but still decent. I ordered another serving of toast because I thought it would be unfair to judge based on a presumed already made batch. As I ordered, I told the   owner’s son that my first serving of bread was cold, and he appeared surprise and mumbled something along the lines of “刚烘的啊”. When it came, it was only slightly warmer, and I started to realize that the first batch was not pre-made, but in fact the lower temperature was probably due to a combination of a shorter toasting time compared to other places that I have patronized, as well as considerable time spent scraping away the burnt ends of the toast. I would say that compared to the more ubiquitous chains like Wang and Ah Kun, I definitely enjoyed Heap Seng Leong’s version more, even though personally i would have liked the bread charred more and served more warm, but I think the scraping of burnt bits is done for the sake of their older customers. The last item I ordered was a Teh-O, and once again it was sweet, but this time it didn’t come with even the slightest hint of a bitter aftertaste…not sure if that is a good or a bad thing.
One interesting observation I made was the elderly man who sat at the table beside me. He almost staggered into the shop, and after giving his order immediately dozed off for a good minute, when he woke up his eyes were still bloodshot. What was interesting about how he ate his breakfast was placing his bread directly on the table, and pouring some of his hot milo onto the now empty plate, and dunking the bread on it. Quite unthinkable for me, but perhaps it is due to his teeth, or lack thereof. The other peculiar fact was that the eggs served to him were still in their shells, but mine came fully prepared. Maybe it was because there were more customers when he came, but it still seemed quite strange to me. All in all I think I will bring my parents to visit Heap Seng Leong at least once, because while the shop is certainly not from my past, it should remind them of theirs, and it would be interesting to hear their thoughts on the food and beverages too, with my dad being a regular coffee drinker and my mom and sis having their own standards for tea.

Stream of consciousness 3

(The intro and ending of every stream of consciousness post will be a tribute to dailygrace)

It’s Wednesday here on Daily Grace and you know what that means –  Look at her go! reviewing, Reviewing, REVIEWING, someTHING, for YOUUU *ding*

Short reviews of movies I watched the day before
1. Cook Up a Storm
Didn’t really like it. Food scenes were not impressive, Even though Anthony Wong had that stage presence, the tension between his character and Nicholas Tse’s character was quite stale. Plot is unexciting, and the ending scene was rather similar to Final Recipe, another rather boring food movie, but I prefer the food scenes in that. What was most disappointing about Cook Up a Storm (whilst being careful not to fall into the trap of “How come you made the movie you made instead of the one I would have made?” as Bill Maher puts it) was that the exciting premise of how a Chinese 老字号 restaurant serving affordable food to the masses was going to compete with a high end European restaurant run by a three-starred chef was never fully developed, or even adequately explored, which is a real pity because that would have made the movie much more interesting. The only decent attempt at a comparison between the two types of cuisine was how Chinese food did not improve and stuck to years of tradition, while European food seemed to lack warmth (both literally and figuratively), and a resolution would have been nice, but was absent and the conflict unaddressed. When you consider that the movie actually had a very good starting point for this East-West conflict when Nicholas Tse’s character talked about how it was fine that some people liked escargots while others preferred the stir-fried chinese mystery snails when asked how was 七记 going to compete; it becomes more annoying that the movie doesn’t remotely reach the depths it promises.
2. I am Legend
Just not very enjoyable and boring. Also realized that I watched the alternate ending instead of the original one; don’t think it would have made a difference. I just don’t feel anything for Will Smith’s character, and even on hindsight that pause-for-thought moment when he stares at the photos of failed revivals and realizes that he might be considered a mass murderer instead of a hero does nothing for me. On this note of hindsight, I didn’t really enjoy the movie in the moment, nor in reflection.
3. Ratatouille
“ah but I am only a figment of your imagination” This thing of explicit self-awareness feels quite stale, but mainly because it has been used in quite a lot of movies. In any case, a decent movie with several points in the movie that you actually want to know how is this problem resolved e.g. entire staff walks out on Linguine, the chase scene, recreating the soup etc. I mentioned how Zootopia tied theme discussion and plot very seamlessly, and Ratatouille is a good example of how it so difficult to do that well. The critic’s speech was undeniably grand, poetic and well written, but it just lacks that integration into the movie. Just realized I have watched about 4 food movies (Cook up a Storm, Final RecipeRatatouille, Chef) and I can’t say that I have enjoyed any one exceptionally.

Buzzfeed “Worth It”
I really like the series, but the recent Peking Duck featured two chefs who explained what they were setting out to achieve. Both were very different, but still meaningful.
Chef Alan, Corner 28 NY “我们的价钱是,很便宜的那种。希望每一个人都能吃到北京鸭。就是因为小时候吃得不多,所以现在要开啊。开完以后我就是在想让每个人都能吃到北京烤鸭。”
Chef Lien Tang, Hwa Yuan Szechuan NY “Today Chinese food has changed a lot. I’m not saying change is not good, but I want people to be educated about what is really traditional Chinese food 40-50 years ago.”

Insightful Youtube Comment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFFfyrfYllQ
Tristan Frodelius “No, no, no, no, no, no!!! Those first people are culinary prescriptivists with no actual appreciation for the complexity and nuance of food as a creative artform capable of so much more potential for ingenuity and variety than they think. They don’t love food; they love tradition. Listen to the other chefs. They know what they’re talking about. But don’t let it stop you from innovating. Know your basics. Like the guy who told you not to proof it in the fridge. That’s based in understanding of how the ingredients work. But you should use that knowledge to innovate. Don’t think tradition is superior to making what excites your senses the most.”

What’s up fuc-



N5 Barilla Spaghetti

Fairprice prepacked streaky bacon

Lemon juice

Emborg whipping cream



Egg yolks

black pepper

Parmesan cheese



  1. Feel Fill a pan with water, salt generously and bring to the boil
  2. Fry up some bacon in an oven until it goes crispy, then slice it into mini bits
  3. Grate the cheese and mix it in a bowl with the egg yolks, cream and pepper, whisk until evenly mixed



  1. Drain the pasta when it is al dente
  2. Transfer the pasta into a pan, then turn on a low heat
  3. Pour the sauce into the pan and mix well
  4. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice


Food for thought:

  1. By strict definitions, this is neither a proper carbonara nor an alfredo. But it is closer to a carbonara, and outside of Italy people put cream in their carbonara, and I think it tastes better.
  2. I have tried making it the traditional way, where the pasta is tossed in the oil/grease that the bacon released while cooking, and the sauce just a mixture of egg yolks, cheese, salt and pepper. But I like this more. It feels more pleasant to the palate. The sauce is light and sweet.



Onion Bacon Pasta

Ingredients (might not be the best from a culinary point of view but these are readly available at my local supermarket)

Yellow onion


Fairprice prepacked streaky bacon

Chilli Padi

masterfood parsley

masterfood oregano

masterfood thyme

knorr chicken stock cube

barilla n5 spaghetti


naturel EVOO



  1. Dice onion, bacon and garlic finely
  2. Deseed chilli padi and slice finely
  3. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and salt generously
  4. Portion out the dry spaghetti


  1. Add EVOO to a pan on low heat.
  2. Once oil is hot/warm, add onions, bacon, garlic and chilli
  3. Place spaghetti in boiling water, stirring occasionally in the first minute
  4. When the onions have released most of their water and are soft, add in parsley, oregano and thyme. Crumble in the stock cube and mix well
  5. Once pasta is al dente, drain and transfer to pan with bacon onion mixture
  6. Toss until flavors are combined

Room for exploration

  1. Would crispy bacon bits improve this dish?



HK Style Steamed Fish Sauce


AAA premium seasoned soy sauce for seafood


Coriander Roots

Coriander Leaves

Spring Onions

Rock Sugar (Whi

Plum Blossom Brand Shao Hsing Hua Tiao Jiu



Fry off the ginger first, then coriander roots, over a high heat

Add the Soy Sauce

Add in the coriander leaves (torn into two), spring onions, rock sugar

Add the Wine

Once beautifully seasoned, remove drain and serve with fish