Fish head noodle purported originated in a neighbouring country in the 1920’s but the milky broth version with fish head deep-fried was invented in Kuala Lumpur in the 1970’s. Today, many restaurants serve both the clear broth and milky broth versions.
Listed below are the top stalls and restaurants in and around KL:
(1) Restoran Goon Wah: A Cantonese restaurant, Goon Wah, has gained fame for its XO fish head noodle. Sizes available are 1 person, 2 persons and 5 persons. Served piping hot in a claypot, the dish comprises yam slices, chives, deep-fried carp head, tofu pieces, a dash of XO, evaporated milk and salted vegetables. A delicate balance among sweet and sour and creamy flavours indicates that the respective quantities of ingredients are perfect. Rating 5/5. Address: No. G13 & 14, Jalan 3/115C
Taman Kuchai Lama, 58200 Kuala Lumpur. Closed on week-ends.
(2) Taynton Fish Head Noodle: Simon Kuek, the owner, says that the soup ingredients are cabbage, half-ripe tomatoes, sour plum, anchovies, fish stock, chicken, red dates, fish bones, milk, salted vegetable and rice wine. Choose from garoupa, deep fried silver carp, and poached silver carp that are delivered fresh daily. The fish heads are only deep-fried upon order. The soup tastes like a cross between diluted mushroom soup and salted vegetable soup. Rating: 4/5. Address: No. 63, Jalan Dato Haji Harun, Taman Taynton View, 5600 Kuala Lumpur. Closed on Friday
(3) Woo Pin Fish Head Noodles: Woo Pin – fan-ventilated but breezy inside -- is always crowded. Available are fried fish head noodle, fish paste noodle, fresh fish head noodle and fresh prawn noodle. All soups have a splash of fragrant wine but evaporated milk is optional. A popular side order is fried fish cake which is springy. A kitchen staff says that the bouncy texture is obtained by pounding the fish paste for at least an hour to release the collagen. Rating 3.5/5. Address: No. 1, Jalan 1/109F, Taman Danau Desa, Kuala Lumpur. Opens: 7.30am – 2:30 pm. Closed on Monday.
(4) SS20 Fish Head Noodle: This stall is pork-free. Choices of fish available are carp, haruan and fillet. For noodles, options include fine bee hoon, thick bee hoon and laifun. The number of pieces of fish each bowl contains is indicated on the menu alongside its price, including a note explaining that carp contains more bones than haruan. The flavour of the soup is light and subtle, so a dash of soy sauce and pepper is necessary. Rating: 3.5/5. Address: Stall No. 20, Medan MBPJ Damansara Kim
Jalan SS 20/10, Petaling Jaya.
(5) Norway Salmon Fish Head Noodle: Its menu, painted on a wall, offers only the following: salmon fish head noodle, prawn noodle, curry salmon fish head and prawn noodle, curry prawn noodle and curry salmon fish head noodle. The salmon fish head, fried on the spot, packs more flavour than regular fish used elsewhere. Standard ingredients include tomatoes, ginger slices, and spring onions. A letdown is the weak flavour of the soup. Rating: 3.5/5. Address: No. 7, Jalan Jambu Hadapan,
Dewan Sri Delima, 51200 Kuala Lumpur. Opens: 8 am to 4pm daily.
(6) Tao Xiang: Stuffy, economical and dilapidated are the hallmarks of this eatery converted from a corner house. The star of Tao Xing is the bubbly claypot fish head noodles. The dish contains tofu, fish balls, mussels, cabbages, yam slices, bean curd sheets, fried fish slices and salted vegetables – big bangs for your ringgit! The thick rice vermicelli swims in a light-flavoured broth containing rice wine and evaporated milk. Rating: 3/5. Address: 2 Jalan Tiong Nam, 50350 Kuala Lumpur.
(7) Kaki Bola II: For soup, there are XO, tom yam and superior clear. Both fish fillet and fish head (either fried or fresh) are available. So you get a permutation of nine choices. To add crunch to your meal, there are also deep-fried fish head. fried fish paste and fried wanton. When my dish arrived, the swirling aroma is the deep-fried smell of the fish. The soup’s XO taste is subtle and its base flavour is heavy in either anchovy or chicken stock. Rating: 4/5. Address: No. 23, Jalan 20/14, Taman Paramount, Petaling Jaya.
(8) Restoran Ikar: A mind-boggling array of soup flavours is available: traditional, wasabi ginger, carrot creamy, bitter gourd, black pepper, seaweed, wine, pumpkin, tom yam, cheese creamy and water cress. I go for the carrot creamy soup. The dish comes with carrot slices and a paper box is provided for the fish bones. By fusing the creaminess of cheese with the slight nutty flavour of the carrot, a soup that is full-bodied and full-flavoured is created. Rating: 4.5/5. Address: No. 453,3rd Mile,
Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur. Closed on Monday
(9) Cheras Fish Head Noodle (Pix 4754)
This stall once operated in Cheras but shifted to Jalan Kelang Lama recently. Your choice is limited to fish head bee hoon and fish meat noodle. Both are priced at RM7 (small) and RM8 (big). Square paper boxes are provided to deposit the fish bones. I attack the fish meat noodle in milky broth; it was garnished with plenty of fried shallots. The pearly white flesh of the carp is without any mud odour. Rating: 3.5/5. Address: Kedai Kopi Tai Chong, Batu 3, Jalan Kelang Lama, Kuala Lumpur. (Before Shell Station)
(10) Ka-Soh Fish Head Noodle & Seafood Restaurant: Air-conditioned, the restaurant serves toman fish head noodle and a host of other dishes. The broth is simple, consisting probably of only toman-fish-bones stock, stir-fried-shallot-oil and lettuce slivers. Both fish slices and deep fried fish head are included. For its price, the portion of noodles can be more generous, however. Rating: 3/5. Address: No. 136 Jalan Kasah, Medan Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur.