Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Mei Handmade Hakka Yong Tau Foo 美手工客家酿豆腐 at Woodlands

The food centre was rather quiet on a Sunday with most than half of the stalls were closed. After placing my taking away orders at the Yan Ji Seafood Soup, i went walking around to look for other choices for lunch as i did not want to wait for at least 45 minutes to eat as that was the expected waiting time at the Yan Ji Seafood Soup.

This stall caught my attention with quite a few of those awards and certifications prominently displayed and amongst them, one has even listed them as serving one of the best Yong Tau Foo in Singapore. Though no queue but there was a constant flow of customers so i guess they must be of certain standard. When looking at their Yong Tau Fu items, it is not difficult to tell from its odd and uneven shapes that most of them were handmade.

The owner is an elderly Uncle in his 60s. We started chatting in Hokkien. When i pointed to those awards displayed, Uncle chuckled and said, "All of those ah? Kelong ones la!".  His eyes sparkled with pride when he was saying that. 'Kelong' is a term usually used in Singapore and Malaysia to indicate cheating to achieve an objective by non-appropriate means. They have moved to this food centre for about 8 years now but Uncle has been at it since a teenager.

Uncle was all alone at the stall when i was there so i asked whether is he running the stall all by himself, he said, "I am doing it with my Zha Bo Lang (查某人)". Uncle was calling his wife as my woman, which is the meaning of Zha Bo Lang in Hokkien. I could not quite remember when was the last time when i encountered a man that is still proudly referred his wife as my woman. My late Grandpa used to do that too.

Uncle said, "We are usually at the stall at about 3 am to do all the preparations and we will also start selling by then too." He said his wife will come to take over later so he can go back to have a nap and they operate till about 8.00 pm.

Uncle told me that they handmade most of the items themselves, he said, "We could not make too many at a time, this is to ensure their freshness and also to avoid them from turning bad". Though most of these are the standard items that are commonly available at most Yong Tau Fu stalls but those from this stall are mostly painstakingly handmade.

Uncle said, "It is getting difficult to find the handmade Yong Tau Fu these days, a lot of hard works involved so many stalls have already given up and acquired these items from the factory instead." He continued to say, "The handmade and the factory made ones tasted quite different but again, not many of the younger generation could actually tell the difference."

Uncle was telling me that his most popular items are those handmade meatballs, he said, 'You do not get these anywhere else.' There were 2 different types of meatballs, the fried one and the steamed one but both tasted equally good.

I wanted to have yellow noodles to go with my Yong Tau Foo, Uncle asked. "Extra chilli with a bit of sweet sauce? it has to go with sweet sauce then is nice."

Most of the items tasted really fresh with not a bite of stale taste detected. Though a lot of chilli was added but the level of spiciness is quite mild and the sweetness from the sweet sauce enhanced its flavor quite a bit. It was quite enjoyable and easily one of the better Yong Tau Fu that i have eaten.

One of his regular customers was telling me, he said, "You should try the Laksa here, it is very good". Uncle said, "I added lemongrass into it and that is the key".  I told Uncle that i will come back for his Laksa soon. 

With many of the first and second generation hawkers went into retirement, many of the foods did not actually taste quite the same anymore. 

Block 4A Woodlands Centre Road #02-29 Woodlands Centre Road Food Centre
Operating Hours: 3.00 am to 8.00 pm

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