Evolution of Street Food & Hakka Yong Tau Foo @ Lorong PeelJuly 19, 2011 | 9,745 views
A feast of traditional Hakka Yong Tau Foo (Stuffed Fish Paste), and a few extra sides @ Wah Kiow, Lorong Peel in Maluri, Kuala Lumpur.
The hunt for good yong tau foo continues. Was severely demoralized from the first Ampang Yong Tau Foo experience back then (not the famous Foong Foong, but heard from colleagues that Foong Foong’s not that exceptional nowadays), but faith restored in the eventual Puchong YTF excursion.
Since then, I have not come across another YTF stall worthy of recommendation. Paramount Garden’s Kheong Kee is but another one of those so-so outlet we frequent, but more so for the porridge and the sake of convenience than die-die must try yong tau foo.
Serenity in the realm of chaos. You can imagine their hardship on a daily basis; stuffing, boiling and frying those pieces of fish+pork+salted fish paste made from securely-guarded traditional Hakka recipes.
And next in line was this Yong Tau Foo stall at Lorong Peel in Maluri, Kuala Lumpur. Been itching to go all the way from Ipoh for a chance at this, ever since watching this on Taste With Jason food show on Astro. But to no avail.
You know lah … procrastination, and the fact that the short weekend getaways last time were barely enough for all the food on my list. Then I relocated to PJ and …. ta-dah!!!
A review finally, on this stall best described as traditional, humble and damn famous.
A mix of Yin and Yang. Sweet bean sauce (tim cheong) and chili sauce for the best combination; bringing out the flavour of the stuffed fish paste. Or try them without any condiments for they’re well-seasoned on their own.
Finding this stall ain’t easy. You have to find Jalan Peel then turn LEFT just before you reach Jusco on your left. You might be led into thinking that the squatter-like settlements could not have housed any worthy street eats, but that’s where faith and belief must come in.
Street food in its essence, should best be left in its most authentic state. No mass producing, no pre-cooked and reheated items, no fancy fusion stuff and no foreign cooks masquerading as ambassadors of Malaysian street food. Also, preferably no air-conditioning, no wifi and no fancy menus.
Still making fresh batches of fried dumplings while we were there, though the crowd has thinned out since they close at about 3pm.
However, the younger generations don’t usually adopt a very positive approach to these commandments. Hence, kopitiams reinvent themselves into a slightly upmarket, comfortable setting while trying desperately to maintain an indirect connection to their humble roots.
Some managed to attain considerable success; even breaking boundaries and traditional beliefs that charging twice the price for a cup of coffee won’t work. But it did.
Cut a long story short, you see Hutong Food Court, Pao Xiang Bak Kut Teh, Nam Heong Chicken Rice & New Ipoh Restaurant Chicken Rice, and to a more relevant extent; Ampang Homeland YTF branching out and treading on the commercialization route. Some have diversified and ventured into uncharted territories; not on solid grounds but pushing for new segment of customers. Usually met with frowns, but the younger chaps lap this idea up with glee, since who in their right mind would want to sacrifice their time, comfort and effort in searching for good eats housed in dilapidated shacks?
I still do.
Fried items like stuffed brinjal, red chillies and bitter gourd were bathed in oil; a scary sight but somehow … the older generations love their fried food this way. Or so I understood from a post I referred to.
Arriving at 2pm+, most of their items have run out. Even the Hakka Char Yoke (braised pork in a dark soy sauce-based gravy) was not available. Hence we opted for a whatever they had, and a serving of wild boar curry.
Very few places serve good wild boar curries though; and if you’re wondering what’s the fuss with Chinese curries, they’re different. Unlike Malay or Indian style of curries redolent with herbs and basking in more gravy than ingredients (usually), Chinese style of curries tend to be lighter in the fiery department, as well as the exclusion of various spices. Cooked in a wok (more often than not) rather than in an earthen clay pot boiling for hours until the curry thickened, the curry tends to be slightly oily and dry.
Crispy Foo Pei, deep fried beancurd sheets with very minimal fillings of fish+pork paste in between.
At Wah Kiow, you don’t get generic, whitened and mass-manufactured fish paste with an impossibly bouncy texture. Yet, you get a greyish shade of a savoury mix comprising of fish paste made from ‘tenggiri’ (mackerel), minced pork, and a very light nuance of salted fish. Supposedly. I did not taste salted fish in Wah Kiow’s YTF, thus I could be wrong.
Try the special stuffed dried oyster or shiitake mushroom ones; instead of the more common Yong Tau Foo.
Was initially vying to try the REAL Hakka Yong Tau Foo (Tau Foo = beancurd), but they ran out of those too. Unlike the usual over-processed version of the same, Hakka YTF should have only minced pork meat with salted fish stuffed into a block of beancurd, then deep-fried to a crisp-at-the-side finish. Very tasty if you have tried this before, and I have from one of those random stall in Ipoh; and this one in Gunung Rapat which was not as authentic but certainly one of the best.
Wild Boar Curry – Goes well with the white rice, though overwhelming if you’re going for more flavoursome side dishes like Hakka braised pork or vinegared pork trotters.
The deep fried stuff were terribly greasy. I would probably avoid those in my next visit. But the stuffed delights boiled/blanched in soup were good; accentuating the natural flavours of the fish paste. Especially the ones with stuffed mushroom/dried oyster.
This visit alone might not be exemplary enough to justify this for the best YTF in Kuala Lumpur crown. But as far as authentic Hakka YTF is concerned, Wah Kiow has to be commended on their reputation and adamant stand on NOT pushing towards the same, idyllic yet culturally-agonizing route taken by most competitors.
Makes you wonder how long more can they stand operating under those heat-magnet of zinc roofs?
Wah Kiow Hakka Yong Tou Foo (non-Halal)
Off Jalan Peel
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel No: +603 – 9283 7576
Business Hours : 10 am to 3 pm.
GPS – N03 07.616?, E 101 43.572?