I’ve never been a fan of fish head noodles or fish head curry. It has been stored in my list of disgusting food, and yes I know that it’s rather un-Chinese and un-Malaysian of me not to enjoy fish head anything.
In Batu Pahat where I grew up, we had fish head noodles Teow Chew-style: clear soup simmered with fish head, served with tomatoes and Chinese preserved vegetables and of course, rice vermicelli.
In Kuala Lumpur however, it seems that the soup has milk and in some places, Chinese rice wine in it. In the early 2000s, Jaime took me to Ka Soh near the Ritz Carlton, which was supposed to be one of the better fish head noodles around. It was my first time having soup with milk in it, very strange!
Kerol persuaded me to try the fish head noodles at Woo Pin in Taman Desa, claiming that they have fried fish slices as well as fried fish head bits. In my naivety I believed her. Guess what? Yeap.
Woo Pin takes up a corner lot where you can see the signboard for Ho A One Seafood Steamboat Restaurant. I suppose the steamboat restaurant didn’t do well at all and so they just gave up, letting Woo Pin take over the space completely (noticeable from Woo Pin’s new operating hours that extends till 10pm).
From the stream of customers that they get, they prove that they deserve the space and additional operating hours. There were a lot of people waiting for tables, and they have a notice to remind customers that all tables are to be shared. Two customers alone at a table that can sit six? Nah, not at Woo Pin.
We had the barley drink (fu chok yee mai) at RM2 each. Apparently it’s very popular and I could see why: it was good! Barley, soft beancurd skin and ginkgo nuts to chew on while waiting for your food to arrive. Yum!
The focus at Woo Pin is extremely clear, as evident with the limited menu. What kind of soup do you want – clear or with evaporated milk? What kind of noodles – rice vermicelli (bihun or mai fun) or yee mee? Fried fish head or boiled fish paste? Okay thank you.
Food took a while to arrive which was a little surprising because the ingredients were pre-cooked. All you had to do was to take a bit of this and that then stir it with some boiling hot soup and it’s ready to be served. Perhaps the wait was due to either, 1) to give the illusion that a masterpiece was being created, or 2) there were too many customers and not enough cooks.
I had the fish paste noodles with evaporated milk in the soup. The fish paste was not bad, not particularly fantastic. The soup however was YUMMY! As you can see in the photos above, it has preserved vegetables for the salty taste, tomatoes for the sour taste, fried shallots and spring onions… gorgeous! RM6.50 per delicious portion.
Also the soup is doused with quite a bit of Chinese rice wine, blending well with the amount of evaporated milk. All thumbs up!
Perhaps the rice wine was a tad too much that day. Halfway through her noodles, Kim’s face turned redder and redder, and she was got a bit too happy. She went home, fell asleep and woke up with a hangover. And she would do it all over again!
I would too, but next time I’d order the fried fish head bits. That is the only way to truly enjoy and appreciate the soup. Of course I’d be hoping that my portion would not contain weird bits like the eye or brain or something bleargh.
Woo Pin Fish Head Noodles
Jalan 1/109F, Taman Danau Desa, Kuala Lumpur.
Opens: 7.30am – 10.00pm. Closed on Mondays.
GPS: 3.09832, 101.686503