SINGAPORE — When it comes to fish soup, I’m a lightweight—unlike my actual body weight. I’m highly cognizant as well of its cult status amongst the OLs of Singapore’s CBD landscape, though I’ve never actually bothered to investigate why. But now that I face the reckoning of reason, I guess it could be because these OLs (that’s office ladies for those unfamiliar with the abbreviation) needed something substantial to warm their bodies up after sitting for hours under an overworked aircon unit. Having fish soup in the office, then, makes perfect sense. Eating it at a crowded hawker centre, though, in the middle of a scorching hot afternoon, feels a tad chaotic.
The closest I’ve come to a Fish Soup iteration is the Seafood Soup—my favourite was the one from Yan Ji, at least when it was still operating out of Old Airport Road. I heard that now, upon moving to its new Marsiling outfit, the broth is markedly more subtle and less flavourful than before, which is such a damn shame if true. That cloudy broth embraces the inevitable seafood scum, which carries all the depths of flavours making its consumption such unbridled joy.
It’s something new kid on the block Milkfish aspires to—joyful eating. Eponymously named, milkfish is popular in Taiwan and the Philippines and enjoys versatility in its preparation—fried, in a soup, or steamed. Here at its Raffles City outfit, Milkfish is a collaboration with Áo Broth, who is charged with brewing Milkfish’s signature soup without MSG or preservatives. Its soup coaxed into flavourful existence through time, letting the fish’s gelatinous belly fat coalesce with fresh clams until the broth distils into a creamy consistency with a subtle, nuanced sweetness that makes it perfect for a light mid-day lunch.
Remember how I previously said that I’m partial to heavier, more umami-laden broths? At Milkfish, the broth is decidedly lighter, almost to the point where it becomes slightly unmemorable. This is all entirely subjective, of course, especially if your palate is more partial to lighter soups. If it is, then Milkfish would be right up your fish soup alley. And if you’re on a calorie-deficit thingamajig, their Signature Soup (S$12.80) offers the best of what Milkfish offers sans carbs. You can sit and watch the world go by at Raffles City as you sip on Milkfish’s signature soup served with sliced red snapper, whole prawn, minced pork patty, clams, vegetables, and tofu. I adored the minced pork patty, generous and flavourful to a fault. The whole prawn, not so much. Here, they’ve gone and sliced the prawn halfway down, which I thought made the whole eating experience a little too cumbersome and robs me of the pleasure of proper prawn consumption. I’ll gladly peel that shell with nary a hesitance.
If you’re feeling slightly fancy and hankering for a well-deserved mid-day, post-zoom kind of treat, the Premium Soup Set (S$32.80) makes for a well-earned reward. It comes with a choice of white rice, noodles, multigrain rice or brown rice vermicelli, served with a side of marinated chilled tomato, oriental salad, and a tomato plum soda. Its premium price tag comes from the addition of a half lobster, one whole abalone, and scallops. I told you it was a treat.
Whatever you order and whichever seafood soup permutation you choose, you absolutely must get the Grilled Whole Milkfish (S$19) to complete the Milkfish experience. My friend and I could not get enough of this fillet slathered with a toothsome sauce (I’m guessing Teriyaki) and served as is. It’s a great showcase of all things milkfish with flaky meat and milky flavours rolled into one plate.
While you’re at it, go ahead and get yourself the chilled tofu with century egg (S$3) in all its dependable glory and the deep-fried prawn rolls (S$6), which I couldn’t get enough of. It makes perfect sense, though, as one of the few flavour-forward items on the menu. There's very little not to love with a good prawn roll, though here, an anomaly for a place that embraces all things light and nuanced, almost like reading between the fish soup lines to get to the heart of the flavour. It's a formula that works to its favour and mine, at least on days when I have to save tummy space for a 6-course dinner. Otherwise, I reckon it will delight many health-conscious Singaporeans, keen to pay more attention to their daily diet, one fish soup at a time.
Raffles City Shopping Centre, 252 North Bridge Rd, B1-44F, S179103
Sun to Thu: 11am – 9.30pm
Fri to Sat: 11am – 10pm