A hidden gem in Yishun that specialises in BOTH Hotpot and Dry Fish Pot.
Qi Lai Feng 齐来丰鱼庄 is found at Yishun Town Square – a “third new-generation town plaza in Singapore” located opposite Northpoint City.
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Most Singaporean should be familiar with the Chinese Hotpot in which diners gather together over a pot of broth to cook your favourite ingredients.
The Dry Pot is less commonly seen in Singapore though.
“Qi Lai Feng” in which name represents “a bountiful harvest”, specialises in Dry Fish Pots. You can make a guess at what it would be like.
Created in Southern China during the 1970s as a quicker way to dine, the modern pot dish typically contains fish cooked dry with spices, peppers and a mixture of ingredients rather than with soup.
This is rather similar to the Dry Pot Chicken 干锅鸡 that you find in the Sichuan and Chongqing regions, though I found the fish version a lot less greasy.
Over at Qi Lai Feng, there are offerings of Spicy Fragrant “Mala”, Jade Pepper, Golden Lemon, and Fresh Tomato Fish Pots.
There are 3 levels of spiciness to choose from, with optional add-ons such as Yuba and Enoki Mushroom ($3 per set).
A small Fish Pot meant for 2 to 3 diners starts from $49/$59, while a large pot for 6 to 7 pax is priced at $89/$99, depending on the fish you choose.
Other than Dory and Mullet, I was most intrigued by the availability of a “Q Fish” on the menu, more commonly known as “Cui Yu” 脆鱼 or 脆肉鲩.
These farmed fishes that are specially imported have a distinctive texture that is crunchy, and if you ask me I would say in-between the usual fish and squid. There were parts which actually reminded me of fried calamari.
The preparation method looked more laborious then it seemed. The fish meat would be sliced thinly, wok-fried with specially-concocted broth, then poured over with boiling-hot oil to simulate a deep-frying process.
That cooking method results in fish slices that would have a slight crisp outer layer, yet still flavourful on the inside.
Qi Lai Feng’s recommendation for first timers would be the Spicy Fragrant Q Fish Pot ($59, $79, $99), where all the spices and herbs used gave the pot a savoury aroma.
Fish used was fresh, with that interesting-crunchy texture, and didn’t get overpowered by all the spices used such that you could still taste the sweet flavours.
”Calamari!”, “Crunchy”, “It doesn’t break,” were some comments when we had the fish – a first time for many of us.
Surprisingly, the base was not as numbing hot and intense (or even oily) as I imagined, and quite manageable.
Do not finish up all the fish and sauces. Towards the end of the meal, the chef would pour in extra broth to make flavourful pot of soup made of the ‘leftover’ ingredients.
This is what they call “一锅两吃”, in which the post can be eaten two ways – dry and soup. Certainly more value for the money.
If spiciness is not your thing and would like something more suitable for the entire family, choose the Golden Lemon which had a sweet and tangy sauce base; or Fresh Tomatoes which was enjoyable as a broth itself.
Moving on to the hotpot, there are options between Fresh Pork Bone Broth ($12), and Hot Pepper “Mala” Broth ($12); I would recommend the Dual Broth ($15) which has the best of both worlds.
Meat and seafood ingredients include US Fatty Beef ($14), Black Angus Beef ($22), Superior Mutton ($14), Superior Pork Belly ($12), Beef Tripe, and Fresh Prawns ($10).
I would also say go for their meats balls and paste, with servings of Cuttlefish Balls ($6), Fuzhou Fishballs with minced meat inside ($7), Fishball with Roe ($7), Prosperity Beef Paste ($10), Pork Balls ($6) and Shrimp Paste ($10).
The shrimps were pounded and slammed to create that more bouncy texture for the Shrimp Paste, delightfully sweet when cooked.
One of our finds was the Tri-Coloured Noodles ($4), both instagrammable and tasty when cooked in the rich pork bone broth.
“Hot Pot” and “Dry pot” are two must-try cuisines when traveling to China. Now, you get both – right at Yishun.
Now, who says there is not good food at Yishun?
Qi Lai Feng 齐来丰鱼庄
3 Northpoint Drive, #01-02 Yishun Town Square, Singapore 768020 (Yishun MRT)
Tel: +65 6483 0100
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 9:45pm Daily
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Qi Lai Feng.