If there is 1 dish that will make me crave for it occasionally, that will be ‘fish steamboat’ aka ‘yu tou lu’ from ‘Xin Yuan Ji’ (新源记) at Tan Quee Lan Street, Bugis.
Absolutely delicious! There is only 1 word to describe the taste of the soup – sweet. Sweet with the freshness of fish, sweet with the natural sweetness of cabbage and yam (?? I dunno is that what gives the soup that light sweetness. Of course if the diner is able to tell the recipe so easily, I bet many people can easily copy the recipe too.) , and sweet with the subtle yet nourishing fragrance of those Chinese herbs used un-stingyly in the soup.
Dear2 was never a fish fan at all, hmm, maybe not even a fish eater at all. But the fish used in Xin Yuan Ji is so sweet that Dear2 fell in love with it immediately. Add a slice of the how-can-chilli-padi-be-this-not-hot-at-all chilli padi to the fish, it is simply such a heavenly combination. Yummy!
For 2 people, Dear1 and Dear2 normally order the cheapest and smallest fish steamboat on the menu plus 2 rice. It’s amazing how such a simple spread usually leaves us so full at the end of the meal. Heehee… Actually it’s Dear2 who is usually very full, cos she normally has bowls and bowls of the soup becos there’s free refill. Waiter please! Keke…
Take note though, becos Chinese herbs were used in the soup, the diner should remove them sometime during the course of the meal if you dun want your after-meal-bowl-of-soup to be too concentrated with herbs. Beware of over nourishment! Haha!
So, if the steamboat fish is so superb, den why is it that Dear2 only crave for it ‘occasionally’? Haiz, that’s becos it’s too expensive. The smallest set used to cost $20, but since that ‘not too long ago past when ALL food stalls seemed to raise food prices in the name of rising inflation but yet the price of food never seemed to go down even though we are in a global recession now’, Xin Yuan Ji has raised their prices pretty exorbitantly as well. The $20 steamboat has become $25 now, a 25% increase in price! Totally unacceptable!
So, becos it’s so expensive, even though this is a dish that Dear2 will go-out-of-the-way-to-come-back-for-more, it’s not something that she can have everyday, hmm, even once a month sounds so extravagant as well. Haiz… Dear2 will have to settle for the more economical fish beehoon. Almost-the-same-sweetness soup, almost-the-same sweetness fish, aiyah, this is a very good cheaper substitution already lah. But…. again, the fish beehoon’s price underwent the same inflation as well, from $4 to $5.20 per bowl (you count the % increase yourself), I’ll have to eat-it-only-when-i-am-in-the vicinity-and-only-if-there’s-nothing-else-to-eat. Haiz.