The golden rule of tasty (and - usually - safe) street food noshing: Head For The Crowds.
It certainly applies in the case of Bangsar Fish Head Corner (self-proclaimed 'Tasty and Best Food in the City'). Dave and I have been scoping out this establishment for, well, approaching a year now. There's not an instance that we've passed by the place between 11:30am and 2:30pm that it hasn't been overflowing with customers. Yet somehow, when lunchtime rolls around and we're wondering where to stuff our pieholes, BFHC has always slipped our minds. Until recently.
What the #!^% took us so long?!
There's the fish head (and shoulders), obviously: snapper, mackerel, whatever's looking good at the market that morning, the owner tells us. It's stewed in a thickish, characteristically Malay Indian red curry, absent of coconut milk and heavy on the tamarind, and comes with slime-free okra that retains just the right amount of toothsomeness. The combo of fresh curry leaves, layered spices, heat, and plenty of sour is one I can rarely resist; a saucer of extra okra and curry is a must.
Rapturous as it is, head isn't the only attraction here. Behind BFHC's modest covered serving station sits a massive wok filled to the brim with burbling oil. It's put to good use, turning out medium-sized whole fish deep-fried, en masse, to a crisp.
And whole squid hand-mixed with chile and tapioca flour
and subjected - to order - to the same treatment.
Tender, juicy, flavorful, tentacles tightly curled and crunchy ... these tasty tubes are popular for a reason.
And there's fried chicken to rival (I never thought I'd see the day) the southern fried bird of my long-departed Arkansas-resident great-grandmother (bless her heart). No batter to speak of here, just divinely crackly skin and flesh with a whisper of grease. Turnover is quick, so any peak hour visitor is almost guaranteed a piece that's fresh-from-the-fryer warm.
Side dishes are limited to rice and bean sprouts, lightly blanched and salted. Not worth a trip in and of themselves, but a convenient vehicle for any extra curry.
Super-fine fish, scrumptious squid, choice chicken, sides. All well and good, but in the end BFHC's reputation rests firmly on its first-rate fish head curry.
It simply must be said: this specimen is more than just a pretty face.
Bangsar Fish Head Corner, No. 3 Lorong Ara Kiri, Lucky Garden (behind TMC grocery store), Bangsar. 8am (roti in the morning)-around 3pm. Closed Sundays.