One of my most missed Singaporean sensations would most definitely have to be tucking into a simple bowl of steaming Yong Tau Foo.
I’m quite sure this delicacy can also be found in one of the Asian eateries in Melbourne (I love a good visit to Glen waverley whenever i’m feeling homesick), however for less than half the price, more than twice the size plus the mad hustle of lunchtimes in a humid hawker centre, I absolutely could not wait to stuff my face full of Yong tau foo here in Hong Lim complex.
Albeit I probably made a huge mistake of visiting the store at around quarter to 1pm (peak period lunch time ouch).
I must say, there is a burgeoning culture of “choping” (meaning reserving in regular english) seats at a table before sauntering off to order food with almost anything- tissue papers, umbrellas, drink bottles, cats (okay I didn’t explicitly see one but I’m sure if someone did have a kitten on hand they’d use it anyway), plastic bags etc.
This was ridiculous! The tissue paper could literally belong to any Tom, Dick or Harry- how is this legitimate????
But somehow or rather, no matter how inconsiderate Singaporeans can sometimes be (only sometimes okay), when it comes to eating at hawker centres, it seems to be ingrained into the Singaporean lunch crowd that a seat which holds a flimsy little tissue pack is strictly off limits. Breaking this golden social rule would be unimaginable.
Weaving and low key elbowing my way through the people after a morning in the gym, the heat, loud noise and humidity was a slap across the face.
….Yo’ girl was again, hangry and craving.
I stumbled across San’s Yong tau foo store, with a line of customers sticking out like a sore thumb.
And that’s how you know that there’s good food.
It was about a 20 minute wait before I could physically access the stall to choose from an adventurous selection of homemade ingredients- fresh vegetables, all sorts of plump, juicy fish cakes, chillis and okras stuffed silly with fish paste, deliciously fried wontons, bean curd puffs, tofus and much more.
Eating Yong tau foo is also all about the exeprience- it’s the salad bar of the Singaporean heartland.
Pick your ingredients with a small pair of metal tongs, choose your carbs of choice- bee hon (vermicelli), rice, hokkien noodles, and kuay tiao (flat rice noodles), and then choose the desired method of cooking- have your bowl of food blanched and tossed in spicy chilli and sweet soya sauce, or have it soaking in a smooth, umami soybean based broth.
This store sold 7 pieces of Yong tau Foo for 4 dollars, inclusive of noodles or rice. I opted for no carbs (they’d ran out of thick vermicelli already), so I was granted another extra piece. 8 pieces for 4 dollars!! Not the cheapest, but still pretty darn cheap.
This was my selection today- a humble bowl of broth boasting with flavour, generously packed with fibre, protein and a plethora of nutrients, my ideal version of a post workout feed. 🙂
What I love is also being able to garnish my meal with the soybeans that were used to boil the broth for hours on end (extra protein + flavour boost? HECK YES!).
I chomped and chewed contentedly, slurping with utter satisfaction.
..And just for that moment, i’d forgotten the fact that I was sipping on boiling hot broth in 36 degree heat, perched uncomfortably on a cramped little table with 5 other grumpy office workers out for an afternoon graze.