Review: Top 5 Eats at Lai Bao Fish Head Steam Boat

Review: Top 5 Eats at Lai Bao Fish Head Steam Boat

Singapore's famed fish head charcoal steamboat tze char stall in Toa Payoh, the city's North, mixes traditional techniques with modern flavours

Set in the heart of Toa Payoh (Blk 168 Toa Payoh Lor 1, to be exact), this unassuming Tze Char Stall is likely missed by many. But the hidden ‘bao’ (treasure) here is its delicious menu, which boasts a variety of traditional tze char dishes, and modern day twists like their signature charcoal tofu. The main star though, is the $15 Fish Head Charcoal Steamboat.

A little history on Lai Bao – it wants everyone to love tze char, from the youngest to oldest. Tze char is a style of cooking characterised by wok-fried family friendly dishes, from chilli crab to chinese spinach soup. You can find these stalls in hawker centres and foodcourts in Singapore and Malaysia.

With a menu that encompasses classic dishes with a modern spin, it aims to please even the most picky eaters. And not just crowd-pleasing dishes, Lai Bao (which translates to ‘Come Treasure’) wants to please your wallets too, creating delicious dishes at affordable prices.

Now for our top 5 must-eats: 

1.  Deep Fried Aubergine in Crispy Pork Floss

First, we start off with side dishes we love so much: crispy fried eggplants. Be warned – this could be your new favourite way to eat eggplants. Thinly sliced, deep fried and tossed in the fluffiest pork floss, they make for the perfect snack. It’s cripsy on the outside, soft on the inside, and if you’re big on textures, this one’s for you. Priced from SGD$8 to SDG$12, this highly affordable and highly addictive dish is one of the must-trys at Lai Bao.

Crispy fried eggplants. Photo: Marianne Charmaine Ng 

2. Deep Fried Charcoal Silken Tofu

Another crispy on the outside, soft on the inside dish, their Deep Fried Charcoal Silken Tofu is a salty, creamy pillow melting in your mouth. Paired with mayonnaise, this delicious side is one of Lai Bao’s modern twists. Priced from SGD$7/10/12 depending on serving size.

Charcoal tofu. Photo: Marianne Charmaine Ng 

3. Old School Sweet & Sour Pork

A traditional recipe passed down by master to student, this deliciously glistening sweet and sour pork drips with tasty, tangy sauce. The charcoal powder on the pork helps keep it from completely absorbing the delicious sauce it comes in and the result? A piece of charcoal pork that is coated in a layer of sauce that doesn’t make it too ‘jelak’, or making the crispy layer soggy with sauce. Priced at SGD$10/12/14 per portion.

  Old-school sweet and sour pork. Photo: Marianne Charmaine Ng 

4. Seafood Lala 'Ying Yang' Hor Fun

It’s already the fourth dish, and no, we’re not talking about their famed $15 fish head steam boat just yet. We simply had to pay homage to this genius of a dish – crispy, fried hor fun on top on wok-hei style gravylicious hor fun noodles. The gravy is gooey, sweetened with clams and fish meat is perfectly soaked up by the hor fun noodles, and makes for a slurping good time. The best part is the crispy hor fun noodles, which serves like crackers. Also, a big part of this dish is the fun, crisp and chewy textures. The crackers soaked in savoury gravy is really like having cereals and milk. 

  Seafood lala ying-yang horfun. Photo: Marianne Charmaine Ng 

5. Sixties Fish Head Charcoal Steam Boat

This famed fish head steam boat has a collagen bone broth base and its flavours are enhanced with the addition of sweet but firm grouper/red snapper in a flavourful silky soup. Simmered over charcoal for over 10 hours, it just gets better with every bite. Big chunks of fish meat, vegetables and tofu come together in a hearty soup that lends you a warmth you can’t experience elsewhere as you share a communal pot with your family and friends. The soup is refillable, so don’t worry about not being able to drink your weight of this collagen packed soup. This dish is also inspired from the 1960s, and it’s recipe is said to be ‘grandma’s secret recipe’.

Sixties Fish Head Charcoal Steam Boat. Photo: Marianne Charmaine Ng


Lor 1 Toa Payoh, #01-1040 Blk 168, Singapore 310168 

Tel: 6261 5825

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