No other dish embodies versatility quite as much as Yong Tau Foo (YTF). There is something for everyone and every diet - the health conscious may choose from a wide range of "healthier choice" items like fresh vegetables and tofu, while those who wish to indulge a little can go for the savory or even deep fried items. There is something for every taste too, with stalls typically offering more than one soup option.
Fortunately for those located at SingHealth Connection, there are a number of Yong Tau Foo stalls to choose from, including one that is Halal certified (at Bukit Merah Hawker Centre). Joy at Work reviews two stalls - Fong Yong Tau Foo (FYTF) and Guan Huat (GHYTF) – both of which garner snaking queues during the lunch hour. Who will emerge the better of the two? Read on to find out!
Range of Ingredients
Fong Yong Tau Fu's food Items are neatly arranged and pleasing to the eye.
FYTF – There are a few unique offerings not commonly found at your regular YTF stall such as large, handmade meatballs and bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms. We sampled the meatballs and found them to be tasty, juicy and not sickeningly rich. The variety of greens here could almost rival that of a salad store!
GHYTF – While FYTF is big on challenging the norm, GHYTF is keen to stick to the old school. There are no big surprises here, just the familiar food items you'd expect to find at any decent YTF stall, like crab sticks, fishballs and tofu items. Fried options are aplenty, occupying two of three shelves, but this is easily balanced out with their decent selection of vegetables.
Quality of Ingredients
FYTF – We loved that their greens were fresh and crunchy, providing a lovely crispness that this dish needs. The deep fried options were crispy too! These were re-fried upon ordering and placed in a separate bowl to prevent them from going soggy. The beancurd skin we sampled gave a satisfying crunch with each bite. Shiok!
Guan Huat Yong Tau Fu's dry option, smothered in sweet sauce, served with a side of soup.
GHYTF – While laid out in abundance, the fried items had soaked up moisture from the environment and other food items, causing them to lose their crispiness. It didn't help that these fried items were not re-fried when we placed our order. The vegetables and mushrooms, however, were sufficiently fresh.
Fong Yong Tau Foo separates the fried items to keep them crisp!
FYTF – This is where FYTF truly stands out. Besides the standard clear soup, FYTF offers Laksa, Tom Yam and even Bolognaise (yes, the Italian meat sauce that is usually served with spaghetti!). Their noodle offerings were extensive too – on top of the usual varieties, there is also mee sua, instant noodles and thin hor fun. We were blown over by the variety! Having these different soup bases and noodle types could mean eating from the same stall from Monday to Friday and yet not feel like you are eating the same thing. Simply amazing!
Taste-wise there were hits and misses. Hits being the sweet sauce and bolognaise. The former has a hint of barbeque sauce which offers another savoury dimension to the otherwise cloying concoction. Visually, the bolognaise looks mismatched when paired with Asian noodle varieties such as bee hoon and kway teow. Once you get over that, however, you will find that the meaty sauce is nicely balanced and transforms the noodles into a dish on its own. On the other hand, the clear soup tasted flat and underwhelming, while the tom yam was merely a pale imitation of the real thing.
GHYTF serves delightful soup sweetened with ikan bilis.
GHYTF: While this store is more limited and traditional in its offerings, they strive to make it great-tasting. The clear soup base was flavoured with the natural sweetness of anchovies or ikan bilis and still felt light despite the good flavour. It was delightful and left us wanting more. What really won us over, however, was their laksa sauce. It is fiery, perfectly "lemak" and tasted authentic. Laksa lovers, don't miss out!
So which is the better of the two?
Eating at Fong Yong Tau Foo could easily set you back by $6 or more, but you pay for what you get – a variety of fresh ingredients and soup options, and the comfort of dining in air conditioning. A pricier meal, but it would surely satisfy those who want a twist to this old-fashioned dish.
Overall Score: 4.5/5
Guan Huat Yong Tau Foo, on the other hand, is one for the food purist. They don't mess around with what's old school and familiar. So if you are after a no-frills experience with flavours that pack a punch, this stall is for you.
Overall Score: 3.7/ 5
Have a stall that you'd like us to review? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!