Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ah Lock 豆腐店 at Yishun Park Hawker Centre : Hakka Tofu Bowl

Lee Lock Teng, 24, an undergraduate of Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering in National of University (NTU), he decided to take a semester break of 6 months to operate this hawker stall, an "incubator stall" in the recently opened Yishun Park Hawker Centre under the Timbre Group. Under this scheme, the hawkers just need to pay for the rental and utility fees, excluding the costs of pest control, dishwashing, and other costs. This is to allow the first-time hawkers to take up a stall for a year with kitchen equipment sponsored and some operational charges waived. They will also receive mentorship from Tommy Teo, the head chef of Timbre Group.

He started this stall to fund his university education as he has run out of savings to pay for his school fees after the first year.  He came from a family of five and their total income is just enough to support the daily expenses. His mother, 47, is a housewife and his father, 51, is a technician. He has eaten his mother's Thunder Tea Rice and his grandmother's Hakka Yong Tau Foo since young. He started helping his mother to prepare meals since his primary school days. He picked up the kitchen skills and eventually learned to cook these dishes by himself. He cooked these dishes for friends that he met and also for those that offered accommodation to him when he went traveling for 5 months. 

His stall is serving Hakka Yong Tau Foo using the family decades' old recipes that passed down from his mother and grandmother. He twisted the recipe a little, he is serving Hakka Yong Tau Foo and Thunder Tea Rice in the concept of Japanese donburi (rice bowl). He wants to present the "old-fashioned" Hakka food in a modern way to create awareness amongst the young people. It takes about 5 to 7 hours each day in cutting and scooping out the tofu then stuffing it, it has to be done carefully to prevent the tofu from falling apart. 

Hakka Tofu Rice Bowl ($5.50) is one of their signature dishes, it is a combination of the traditional Hakka Yong Tau Foo and Thunder Tea Rice, presenting in the form of Japanese donburi. It consists of Japanese rice and topped with ingredients like deep-fried tofu and tau pok that stuffed with minced pork belly with meatballs, chopped long beans, and shredded seaweed. And, right at the centre, it is a pile of tofu cubes with sambal mayonnaise and garnished with Alfalfa sprouts. Their other signature dish is Hakka Meatball bowl ($4.50), it consists of 3 pieces of meatballs and tofu puffs on a bed of rice. 

The chili that came along was quite different from those that usually along with the Hakka Yong Tau Foo, the level of spiciness was rather mild with a slightly sweet undertone but went well with those pieces of Yong Tau Foo. 

His elder brother, Lock Phon, 25, will helm the stall after 6 months when he starts to attend classes. He is determined to strike a balance between school work and cooking.They will continue running this stall if the response is good. He will also convert to taking part-time night classes at NTU and he intends to give himself about 4 to 5 years to complete the course.

If i do go back, I will go for their Tofu Rice Bowl again and will add $1 for extra meatballs. 

51 Yishun Avenue 11 #01-08 Yishun Park Hawker Centre SINGAPORE 768867
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 2.00 pm / 6.00 pm to 9.00 pm (Closed on Wednesdays)

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