For fish connoisseurs

If you are a fan of fish and are skilled in separating every morsel of tender flesh from the bone, then it will be sheer delight for you to savour a whole steamed fish at Fat Fish Johor Baru.

Executive Chef Teo Wong Jieh presents
the signature dish at Fat Fish Johor Baru
Connoisseurs of fish agree that there’s something comforting about savouring freshly-steamed fish, sipping its hot broth and slurping the rich tasty flavours, right to the bottom of the hotplate.

They are discovering the pure pleasure of eating the signature dish of whole fish served in bubbling hot broth at Fat Fish JB and are coming back for more at this neighbourhood restaurant.

I’m glad my family and I arrive before 6.30pm because the restaurant is almost full. In a few minutes, a queue of people has gathered outside, waiting for a table to be available!

Dining Concept

The dining concept of serving Chinese fusion food in a trendy café, designed with an industrial ambiance, is the brainchild of Executive Chef Teo Wang Jieh and his partner, Xue Nie.

Culinary trained in Melbourne, they share a hobby in travelling and enjoying good food.

The facade of Fat Fish JB at Taman Melodies, Johor Baru
While seeking an opportunity to open their restaurant in JB, they applied their experience in catering European menus for private events that were hosted at interesting venues.

Recently while travelling in Tientsin, China, where they tasted a fish dish that inspired them to apply Western-style cooking into Chinese food and created their signature dish.

While their creation appears to be similar, it is served in a choice of flavours that match the tastes of local palates.

“Nothing tastes like fresh fish,” said Teo who explains that their fish is locally sourced for a more consistent taste and premium fish is offered for a more satisfying meal.

While every order is individually cooked, no effort is spared to prepare the fish and broth base in advance.

To Order

For first-timers, start by picking your choice of fish, all supplied fresh daily from Kukup. Incidentally, the restaurant is closed on Monday because there was no fish supply on that day.

The whole fish is buried under a variety of seafood in
a dish of steaming hot broth 
Teo says they use fish such as barramundi (RM76.30), red snapper (RM97.30) and grouper (RM125.30) or seasonal specials like jade perch (RM125.30).

Then pick your choice of broth from four flavours: Japanese Miso, Seafood and Mushrooms, Sichuan Hot and Spicy, and Tomato. This is when you should inform the waiter of your preference for less salt or more spice in your broth.

For additional seafood, choose from add-on items like baby octopus (RM9.90), clams (RM9.90), mussels (RM11.90), sea prawns (RM12.90), sliced abalone (RM9.90) and yabby lobsters (RM19.90).

For diners’ convenience, they can just pick the Seafood Platter (RM38.90) which comprises prawns, clams, baby octopus and sliced abalone.

Side orders of [Clockwise] Japanese udon, handmade
noodles, egg noodles and fried buns or mantou
Vegetable Platters in two sizes, small (RM15.90) and large (RM23.90), comprising abalone mushrooms, soyabean sprouts, potato slices, Chinese cabbage, Enoki mushrooms and tofu cubes.

There are side orders like egg noodles, handmade noodles, Japanese udon (RM4.90 each) fried buns or mantou (RM5.90), and steamed rice (RM2.90) to soak up the rich broth from the signature steamed fish dish.

Crispy fried fish skins (RM5.90) is also a popular choice. A glance at the other tables proves that this side order is simply irresistible!

To Savour

While the ordering process may seem a bit tedious, I’m pleasantly surprised that the kitchen serves up our order rather quickly.

I like how matching sets of ceramic plates and Chinese spoons with wooden chopsticks are used instead of plastic tableware.

The chef’s recommendation of a jade perch – available the day I was there – is an excellent choice. Fish connoisseurs know how to enjoy the delicious flavour of its tender flesh with a touch of collagen.

When the dish is served, we sit back to allow the waiter to place the steaming hotplate centrally on the table. Then watch in awe as the whole fish bubbles in broth, topped by our side orders of seafood and vegetables.

The enticing aroma from the seafood and mushroom broth, simmering with freshly cooked seafood, is simply mouthwatering.

To ensure that the fish is equally cooked on its topside, a soup ladle is provided for us to drizzle the boiling broth over the fish. A spatula is inserted under the fish to move the fish so that its underside will not be charred.

A serving of crispy fish skins
The waiter gently reminds us to let the vegetables cook a little longer to soften them. I spot slices of Chinese cabbage, soyabean sprouts, tofu cubes as well as Enoki and abalone mushrooms in the broth.

When I gently move the fish with the spatula, I find that it’s resting on a bed of potato slices, probably for protection from the flames below.

With our eyes fixed on the fish, we patiently nibble on crispy fish skin for a few minutes. Meanwhile I can see prawns, clams, baby octopus and sliced abalone in the bubbling broth.

The moments tick by and as if we cannot wait any longer, we finally raise our chopsticks together to dig in. We are doing justice to the fish and seafood and also accept the offer from waiter to top-up the broth. I’m sure the waiters can tell that we are fans of fish because when they clear the table, all that is left on the hotplate, is the fish’s lateral bone!

FAT FISH JB RESTAURANT [Halal-sourced ingredients]
97, Jalan Beringin, Taman Melodies, 80250 Johor Baru, Johor

TEL                607 – 3309420

HOURS        Open 6pm to 12am. Closed Monday.

FOOD            Chinese fusion cuisine

PICK              Jade Perch fish in seafood and mushroom broth

PAY               From RM3 to RM130 per dish

MOOD          Contemporary family restaurant

SERVICE     Efficient and unobtrusive

I SAY…         Go give it a try

A version of this was published in The New Straits Times, Life & Times on 2 August 2017

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