Hawker Reviews

Xin Lu Fishball Noodle Review: Famous Margaret Drive Stall With 50-Year-Old Recipe And XL Fishballs

Xin Lu Fishball Noodle at Mei Ling Market has Teochew fishball noodles

Not everyone will agree, but for those of us who do like fishballs, there’s something addictive about their briny flavour and that ultra-bouncy finish. I was recently hit by an intense craving for fishball noodles and chanced upon Xin Lu Fishball Noodle, a stall at Mei Ling Market & Food Centre with a history of more than 50 years. They still serve it the old-school way, with no additions of minced meat, fishcakes and the like.

Food at Xin Lu Fishball Noodle

Their menu is incredibly simple. For $4.50, you can have 10 fishballs cooked in soup, or fishball noodles. If you’re having noodles, have it in soup or dry; with, or without chilli. If you opt for fishball noodles, a serve comes with five of their house-made fishballs.

The most complicated part of ordering your noods here is probably choosing the noodles—there’s tung hoon, bee hoon, bee tai mak, mee pok, mee kia, kway teow, and even yellow mee. Fun fact: their mee pok and mee kia are supplied by one of the oldest noodle makers in Singapore!

Xin Lu’s golf ball-sized fishballs used to be handmade in the stall, but the stall is so popular that they’ve now got their own factory. Two kinds of fish go into the making: wolf herring, AKA saito, and yellowtail, whose meat is scraped by hand, before it’s mixed and beaten by machine. Most of the balls are machine-produced too.

We found these to be light and almost fluffy, yet still with a distinct chewiness. They were super smooth to the bite too. Some might find them a bit too savoury, but I loved them, especially with chopped red chilli and light soya sauce.

Comparatively, the soup which these balls came in was clear and mildly sweet tasting—third-generation hawker Yeo Kwong Yew starts boiling this with saito fish and yellowtail, as early as 4am when he begins to prep for the day.

The chilli mix that goes into the noodles is house-made too with belacan and dried shrimp, according to a recipe that his father came up with. There’s some vinegar in this too, which adds a sharp oomph to the mix.

If you choose to have your noodles without chilli, that’s simply excluded the old-school way, but you get a packet of ketchup on the side.

I quite appreciated this, because then you can adjust the amount of ketchup to your liking.

Surprisingly, even though I usually detest ketchup in my noodles, it wasn’t too sweet or ketchup-y even when we’d emptied the whole packet into the bowl.

Plus points also go to the house-fried lard and shallots, which elevated each bite. There’s also dong cai, or preserved cabbage, lending extra savouriness to the noodles.

Ambience at Xin Lu Fishball Noodle

Xin Lu only gained their name when Mei Ling Market & Food Centre was constructed in 1969, and their roadside stall was moved from Margaret Drive into the food centre—thus calling themselves 新路 (xīn lù), for the new road that led people to the market.

The market and food centre are a nine-minute walk from Queenstown MRT Station, but is much newer than the HDB blocks around it, after renovations and upgrading works in the last 20 years. We hear that it gets pretty crowded on the weekends, especially after 8am, but queues are said to move quite fast.

The verdict

My biggest quibble was how both the mee pok and mee kia got really soggy after they’d been dabao-ed—I definitely recommend having your fishball noodles right there, or ASAP if you’re having it to go. Other than this, my colleague and I truly found great comfort in these uber-tasty fishballs and the accompanying bowls of noodles.

Check out our list of fishball noodles in Singapore, if you’re a fan like myself. Otherwise, head to the new Margaret Drive Hawker Centre, or the hip, new Margaret Market right next door for more foodie finds in the area!

Address: 159 Mei Ling Street, #02-05, Mei Ling Market & Food Centre, Singapore 140159
Opening hours: Fri-Wed 5:45am to 3pm
Tel: 9771 8675
Xin Lu Fishball Noodle is not a halal-certified eatery

Photos taken by Kaedynce Chew.
This was an independent visit by Eatbook.sg.

Xin Lu Fishball Noodle Review: Famous Margaret Drive Fishball Noodles With XL Fishballs
  • 8/10
    Xin Lu Fishball Noodle Review: Famous Margaret Drive Fishball Noodles With XL Fishballs - 8/10
8/10

Summary

Pros
– Large, smooth and bouncy fishballs
– Tasty, old-school flavoured noodles
– Many kinds of noodles to choose from

Cons
– Mee pok and mee kia got very soggy when dabao-ed

Recommended dishes: Fishball Noodles ($4.50)

Opening hours: Fri-Wed 5:45am to 3pm

Address: 159 Mei Ling Street, #02-05, Mei Ling Market & Food Centre, Singapore 140159

Michelle

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