Written by Mu Yao, 21st June 2012
Far too many youngsters my age detest hawker centres. And sometimes, that includes some food bloggers these days, where you see far too many restaurants on their blogs. As a Katong Boy, I have been lucky to be surrounded by so much food in the 50m stretch of road (called East Coast Road) right outside my house, and have witnessed the coming and going of many an eating establishment. Big-budgeted ones included (We had Indochine's "Forbidden City" Restaurant right outside my house about 8 years back. Yeaps, failed.)
If there's one thing a Katong boy can teach you about food, it'll be the fact that good food can never be equated in terms of price. Food, just like every other service out there, is something that is served with the heart, and can never be measured by monetary terms. The heart and soul put in these dishes here by these establishments around my place all these years is certainly no less than those of Joel Robuchon's team at his acclaimed restaurant at Resorts World Sentosa. And it shows, in the taste, that medley of flavours, and the intense look of concentration as these hawkers sweat it out making your simple meal. This Yong Tau Foo at KSC's basement food court has been a humble business I've been quietly patronizing all these years (more than 12 years), occasionally gathering an accolade here or two, but always humble and dedicated to serving the cheapest and best food possible. Unlike it's more acclaimed counterpart next door, the chicken rice stall ("Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice", as it is called), it is always by the sidelines, never the star, but serving good food nonetheless.
|The Yong Tau Foo (min. 7 pieces, $3.30 and up)|
The Niang Tau Foo here costs $3.30 and up, with an addition of $0.40 for a side of rice or noodles. Soup is standard, with unlimited refills. The lady's fingers' aren't the freshest and the most crunchy, but it'll do. The hashbrowns are a little oily, but are packed with flavour. The tau kwa is crisp and relatively fresh, but not the freshest I've tasted. The bittergourd, is refreshing, and the fish meat fillings in every one of these ingredients is as smooth as silk, without the "chau-chor" aftertaste. In short, it ain't the world's best Niang Tau Foo, but you can tell behind all it's imperfections, it's something that is served with heart and pride. Oh, the soup is savoury and awesome with the soy bean freshness and the rice is nice, moist and fluffy too. I loved the sweet sauce. Lord, help me.
|Possibly the best rojak I've ever tasted. $2 and up.|
As if that wasn't enough, I'm pleasantly surprised to report another finding: this place serves the BEST ROJAK I'VE EVER HAD TOO! It's hard to find $2 rojak these days, and ohmygawd, this rojak stall gets so many things right - the you char kuay is crisp and not stale, there's mango (!!), benkoang (mang-guang), cucumbers all oozing their juices with this radiant freshness, and the prawn paste is not too 'gau' (thick) or heavy for the average teenager like me. National treasure, this one. Some of you may disagree with me (which is fine!), but please don't disagree with the love that goes into the making of this dish. It is their pride and glory for that hawker, this one.
Which makes it difficult for me to write this review. Afterall, good food bloggers are supposed to be objective right? But as a Katong Boy, and a passionate lover of food, I have to write this review. Good, humble and hearty food like this cannot be sidelined anymore, considering the diminishing fate of these hawkers, as more Singaporeans flock to the chain restaurants at malls and more fine-dining establishments.
For the love of God, please let us remember where were our culinary roots were founded upon.
Katong Shopping Centre Yong Tau Foo
Katong Shopping Centre
Block 865 Mountbatten Road, B1-85/6/7
Open Daily: 10AM-8PM