Fish head curry is a tricky dish to review. It’s a personal thing; everyone’s got their own likes and dislikes. So let me put it up front: I don’t care for a fish head curry that’s over-the-top lemak. I don’t like a one-dimensional, generic ‘curry’ flavour. I like my vegetables. And though I’m a chili fiend, this is one dish that shouldn’t be overwhelmed with heat; I don’t want to leave the table with my mouth on fire.
Judged by these admittedly subjective standards, Bangsar Fish Head Corner’s specialty is spot on. Apparently I’m not the only one in KL who thinks so; the place is packed out every single afternoon (if you’re looking to indulge at dinner time, look elsewhere; the place is usually sold out of heads by 2pm). The fish heads are generously sized, with plenty of meaty ‘shoulder’ attached. The gravy is thinnish and, while rich with coconut milk, not so stodgy as to make you wish for a nap after lunch. There are a multitude of flavours at work here: the bite of chillies, the freshness of curry leaves, the sweetness of cardamom and coriander seeds, the astringent pungency of cumin. They’re all detectable, because the curry’s chili heat comes through in the form of a tingle rather than a torrent. Underneath it all is a fair bit of tamarind sourness that melds the coconut milk and spices into one beautiful balanced whole. I would welcome a few more ladyfingers and tomato slices per serving of fish head, but extras are available on request.
The menu isn’t what you’d call extensive. There’s fish head, of course, and to go with it, rice and plain blanched bean sprouts. (The latter work nicely with leftover gravy.) Folks also queue here for fried chicken (crispy outside, moist within, well-seasoned, and always piping hot thanks to steady demand) and turmeric-marinated, deep-fried squid, served without the frills: it’s whole, unpeeled, ‘wings’, head, and guts intact, plopped unceremoniously on a plate leaking a pool of own golden, tender and tasty. It’s a talent of artistic measure, really, to be able to plunge a squid into boiling oil and know the exact moment to remove it, right after rubbery flesh turns gelatinous and just before the rubber reappears. And it’s a talent the cooks here have mastered well. In the mornings there’s no fish head, but plenty of roti and curry. And that’s it. What more does any man (or woman) really need? Robyn Eckhardt
|Venue name:||Bangsar Fish Head Corner|
Lorong Ara Kiri 3, Lucky Garden
|Opening hours:||Open daily, except Sundays|