The name Fish Head comes as a bit of a surprise to many and probably not very appetizing. That was the response we received from our friends when we organised to have dinner there. Fortunately they came along and we proceeded to have a great night. As Walter Ventura closed British India he opened Fish Head which serves up Indo-Malay and Indian cuisine. Now you see why I wanted to go. I thought it would be promising when I found out that Nu Suandokmai is heading the kitchen along with Rakesh Chandra from British India and Kenneth Ting from Concubine. Nu himself has worked on Nu Thai, Gin Long Canteen, Golden Boy and Cliché Exhibition so there’re some heavyweights in the kitchen.
I haven’t been to British India so I don’t know what it was like inside but Fish Head’s decor includes a big fish head mural on the wall. We made our way to the table and were given menus. Here comes the hard part. We wanted to try everything, that’s why we brought reinforcements (thanks to our friends). The first thing I saw was the Fish Head Curry. Had I been in Malaysia I would order it but I don’t think these guys would have been a fan. You can order it with no head too of course but our table tonight weren’t exactly fish lovers. Also, it would be a bit of a gamble because there is such a specific one I like from back home.
The menu is split into Hawker for street food and entrées and Luxe for mains with options of sides down the bottom. Of course there is a separate dessert menu but we will get to that later. The first thing I ordered was Otak-Otak which is actually kind of like fish mousse or paste wrapped in banana leaf and grilled over charcoal fire. I would be happy with a steamed version too. This was a fillet, the fish was salmon. Unfortunately I just don’t think it worked. The flavours just weren’t there and salmon was too overpowering.
We also tried the Crispy Pork Belly which was served with grilled pineapple chutney and caramelized shallots. It’s quite a flavoursome morsel and the pork was definitely tender. Street Beef Naan arrived next to everyone’s delight. Tender strips of grilled beef tenderloin mixed with tamarind smoked chilli chutney on naan bread is quite the snack. A bit on the sweet side for me personally but still delicious.
Being typical us Soft Shell Crab was on the cards but what I ended up really loving was the salad that went with it. The soft shell crab was ok but the salad was so appetizing for my friend and I. The boys didn’t quite fancy it so much. It’s a tangy refreshing salad of apple, tomato, cucumber, coriander, mint and red onions. I would’ve been happy just to eat a whole bowl of that salad.
I absolute love duck but ever since my gout, I can’t have a dish to myself so I was glad that everyone that night was open to eating duck. Their F-Duck was a delicious dish of twice cooked duck with spinach and sweet tamarind sauce. Key word – sweet. Tamarind, couldn’t taste it so much but the duck was very tender and full of flavour. Clearly the marinade has made its way through the flesh. Feeling like something saucy we also ordered Beef Cheeks. This was more of a curry dish with apple eggplant and curry leaf for extra flavour and fragrance. The beef cheek has been braised in a coconut milk, chilli and turmmeric sauce. Once again sweetness came through a bit too strong for me but it was absolutely tender and packed with flavour. I wanted more rice for the sauce and Mr Foodie wanted more naan.
We managed to leave room for dessert which was a good showcase of Southeast Asian Flavours. Mr Foodie had the Coconut Sticky Rice with fresh coconut flesh, coconut ice cream and nuts. It came served in a half coconut which was pretty cool. My friend ordered the Mango Pannacotta which reminds me a little of a mango sago pudding. Delish.
I went for the Pandan Crepes (so Malaysian).These crepes were filled with palm sugar coconut between the layers and served with coconut ice cream. It had all the elements of Malaysian desserts in a nutshell.
Overall I did find everything too sweet but that’s my personal preference. The sweetness seemed to me more of a Thai thing. Indo-Malay main dishes do have sugar for balance but they’re not often actually sweet tasting. The food is still delicious and very enjoyable. It’s not authentic classic dishes but a modern take on the key flavours of the cuisine. There hasn’t been much hype about Fish Head. Quite frankly I only saw it by chance but this gem is not to be missed.
270 Morphett Street
08 8212 2411