Rating: 4/5 (for the fishballs); 3/5 for the noodles
Two things will catch your eye at this stall. Firstly, the larger-than-ping-pong-ball sized fishballs. Secondly, the long signboard which says “Clarke Quay Top 73+1 Handmade Fishball Noodles”
The stall has been around for more than 20 years. It was first opened by old Mr Tan at Clarke Quay near the historical ‘cha chun tau’ area, which means ‘jetty for boats carrying firewood’. It was where Mr Tan would sell Teochew-style fishballs to the firewood merchants and workers.
It was named “73+1” because Mr Tan felt the name was catchy and it was something even illiterate workers could read.
Although the business has been handed down to the second generation, the heritage and recipe are still being preserved. The current owner Tang Kwan Chye, known as “Ah Cai” to regulars, still believes in making the fishballs by hand in order to retain its freshness.
When asked what the secret to his fishball was, he said it was a mixture of his father’s recipe and dedication to making the fishballs fresh on the spot. Indeed, when the fishballs were running out, Ah Cai promptly went to the kitchen and made a few hundred more fishballs on the spot in front of my very eyes!
Owner Ah Cai and his handmade fishballs.
1. The fish meat is placed in a huge container, stirred in one direction until it becomes this shiny and sticky white paste.
2. Some of the fish meat is kneaded and ‘massaged’ until the paste becomes springier.
3. A lump of the fish paste is squeezed out through the thumb and index fingers to form a round shape, and is further scooped out into a ball with a spoon.
4. The fish balls are dropped into a container of slightly warm water.
5. The fishballs are left to be soaked in the water for about an hour.
6. The result: bouncy yellow-tail fishballs.
While the meepok ($5.00) I had was rather ordinary, the huge fishballs were absolutely bouncy and springy. The soup, flavoured with lettuce and preserved cabbage, was the usual clear version which brought out the essence of the fresh yellow-tail fishballs.
Clarke Quay Top 73+1 Handmade Fishball Noodles
Singapore Food Trail
30 Raffles Avenue, #01-09/12
Opening hours: Sun-Thurs: 10.30am-10.30pm; Fri & Sat: 10.30am-11.30pm