The Huat Hawker Dish For CNY Reunion Dinner
CNY reunion menus bring to mind lobsters and abalones and host of other premium ingredients that burn quite a hole in the pocket. But deliciousness doesn’t need to come at a tear-watering price. Fish balls are one such auspicious food item to include in your reunion dinner. Round little orbs, their shape symbolise perfection and togetherness; made from fish, they also symbolise abundance, making them excellent for the reunion dinner table. And at Yong Hwa Delights, we’ve found some of the tastiest handmade fish balls we’ve ever sunken our teeth into.
An heirloom recipe
The business was started by 58 year-old Mr Sim Kay Yeow’s father, and the white-haired gent remembers fondly of helping out at stall his childhood. “I think I have a natural flair for cooking,” he says with a chuckle. “I have sold prawn noodles, kway chap, economy rice… but in the end I decided to go back to selling fish balls as I have a special connection to it, and I wanted to continue my father’s legacy.”
The recipe used to make the fish balls at Yong Hwa Delights remains exactly the same as that used by his father—and they yield some delicious fish balls. The texture is perfect balance between “QQ” springiness and meaty succulence. While Mr Sim can now buy deboned fish from the suppliers and no longer has to painstakingly scrape the flesh off the bones of the yellowtail scad, making fish balls is still a time-consuming process. “Back in the day, we would spend eight hours making the fish balls from scratch, from hand-scraping the fish to beating the flesh into a paste and shaping it into balls. My father and I would stand at the stall for five hours to sell our wares,” recalls Mr Sim. While the production time has been cut by half to four hours, Mr Sim still gets to his stall at Bedok Centre at 5am to start making the little umami bombs, and to start serving the breakfast crowd from as early as 6:30am. “The fish balls we sell every day are made fresh each morning,” says Mr Sim proudly.
The only fish-and-meat ball hybrid in Singapore
While preserving his father’s recipe, Mr Sim has also made his own innovations: a fish-and-meat ball hybrid which he claims is unique on this island. “Nobody else does it in Singapore,” he says. “It is a blend of fish and minced meat, blended with our secret seasoning mix. But still, made with no preservatives or MSG.” Unlike commercial meatballs that tend to be tough and dense, these little orbs studded with finely chopped spring onion and preserved vegetables are delightfully springy just like the fish balls.
Beyond fish balls
You can enjoy their fish and meat balls in a bowl of clear soup, made from the water used to soak the fish balls as they firm up. But to complete Yong Hwa Delights makan experience, order up a bowl of fish ball noodles, served with toothsome strands, a scoop of succulent soy-braised mushrooms, slivers of perfectly tender liver, and a generous scattering of lard, fried fresh in house. With the exception of the noodles, everything they sell prepared from scratch, even their chilli dip and fried lard pieces.
Third-gen at the helm
While Mr Sim shuttles between the Bedok Centre stall and the outlet at Bedok South, his wife is stationed mostly at latter. “The Bedok Centre stall is very popular, but our old regulars prefer to frequent the Bedok South stall as this is where the whole family is!” shares Mr Sim. Mr Sim’s 25 year-old son, Darren, has also joined the family business. “Unlike my dad, who knows how to cook lots of stuff, I know only how to cook fish ball noodles!” Don’t be fooled by his young age though: Darren moves like a pro in the kitchen. Afterall, he joined the family business when he was just 16 years old. (Side note: Darren is apparently quite a name amongst the gamers too, and has his own fans even.)
Order early for CNY
Yong Hwa Delights gets really busy prior to Chinese New Year fulfilling orders from their customers, which can range from a modest 20-piece order to some 300 pieces in a single order. “Our fish balls can only be eaten fresh within the day, and they have to be kept chilled in the fridge, surrounded by ice. We even give our customers very clear instructions on how much water to use to cook the amount of fish balls they have bought, so that they can enjoy them at their best,” says Mr Sim.
Pre-paid orders are taken directly from the stall as early as two weeks before CNY, and collections are made on the day the fish balls are meant to be consumed. “During this period of time, we often have to start making the fish balls at midnight so that our customers can collect them in the morning!” shares Mr Sim.
Craving some bouncy, umami-packed fish balls right now? Head down to Yong Hwa Delights, where they are offering an exclusive Jalanjalan.me deal of three free fish balls for every $7 purchase! Simply head down to their Bedok South outlet and scan the Jalanjalan.me QR code to redeem!