Order in the Court: Fish Ball Place, Pacific Mall’s go-to stall for Hong Kong–style street food

Order in the Court: Fish Ball Place, Pacific Mall’s go-to stall for Hong Kong–style street food

For this new series, we’re fixating on the city’s food court gems

Fish Ball Place, a tiny stall tucked away in Pacific Mall’s Heritage Town—the sprawling shopping centre’s second-floor food court designed to look like a traditional market—specializes in Hong Kong–style street food snacks: dim sum, Chinese sausages, cuttlefish and, of course, fish balls. It was my go-to after-school spot. My parents, who worked in the mall, would pick me and my siblings up from grade school once the bell rang, then dump us in front of the stall with nothing but a $10 bill before heading back to work, knowing that we’d have no trouble securing something to eat. We never complained. Instead, I cycled through that menu over the years, learning which level of spice goes best with each item and which drink would put out the fire.

Owners Wendy and Tony Kwok, who moved to Canada from Hong Kong in 1992, have been running the literally named booth since the mall opened in 1997. But, back then, the Kwoks’ business focused on packaged goods, like potato chips and bubble gum. When they lived in Hong Kong, Tony ran a similar fish ball stand. “In Hong Kong, we were selling things like curry fish balls and rice noodles, but we weren’t sure those items would be popular here,” says Wendy. “Pacific Mall was brand new—it wasn’t very busy then.” When the Kwoks relocated their stall from the first floor to its current location in the food court, they decided to take a leap of faith and changed up the menu to focus on hot snacks.

A Fish Ball Place spread

Most of the items on Fish Ball Place’s impressively long menu follow one of my favourite food concepts: edible things on sticks. While they do sell other easy-to-eat Hong Kong snacks—tea leaf eggs, rice noodle rolls—the allure of Fish Ball Place is, predictably, their fish balls. Similar to fish cakes, fish balls are made of ground-up fish meat held together with a binding agent like eggs and tapioca powder or rice powder. While some are deep-fried, the ones at Fish Ball Place are boiled to retain the sweet fish flavour and bouncy texture.

Other dishes include beef balls, pig’s stomach and red sausage—all on sticks for easy eating. Almost every item on the menu is doused in their signature dressing, a house-made golden-brown curry sauce. Similar to a Thai or Malaysian style curry, it’s thick and aromatic, with a little kick to it. The curry’s hottest version isn’t incendiary—say, six out of 10 flames at most. The spice-averse, however, can ask for the mild curry. The best part: nothing on the menu costs more than $10, with most items ringing in under five bucks.

Here are five of my favourite things to get from Fish Ball Place.

Curry fish balls

Fish Ball Place’s namesake item arrives four fish balls to a stick. Perfectly chewy, they’re light and have a mildly sweet taste that perfectly contrasts the savoury flavour of the curry sauce. Each ball is the perfect two-bite snack. $2.75

Curry beef balls

These beef balls, which also come four to a stick, are denser than their fishy brethren, so they have a bit more of a bite to them. They also have a richer flavour. Like the fish balls, they’re slathered in the house curry sauce. $2.75

Fish balls (centre) and beef balls (to the right of the fish balls) along with various other balls, including lobster and pork


Pig skin and turnip

For this dish, pig skin is braised with daikon radishes in savoury soy sauce. The subtle bitterness of the daikon offsets the richness of the pig skin. $6.50

Pork skin and radish (right) pictured with pork blood and turnip (left)


Red sausage

Thin slices of Chinese red sausage are skewered and dipped in that signature sauce. The sausage has a slight smokiness that pairs well with the spicy curry. $3

Slices of skewered red sausage (centre) with other snacks on sticks, including mussels and tripe


Iced milk tea

Wash it all down with an iconic Hong Kong–style milk tea. Made with black tea, sugar and evaporated milk (or sweetened condensed milk), it helps put out any curry-induced fires and makes for a sweet ending to the meal. $3.50

Fish Ball Place (in Pacific Mall’s Heritage Town), 4350 Steeles Ave., Markham