Makansutra: Preserving Cantonese comfort food
Chinatown hawker stall Yuet Loy's tried-and-true delights stand the test of time
I wrote about the food and culture of Yuet Loy almost two decades ago, when it had been at it for about 40 years.
Today, second-generation owners Fong Peng Cheong and his wife, Brenda, still hold down the fort, and their daughter Mei Teng helps out at the front of house.
They continue to hawk unapologetically since being lifted off the Chinatown streets and installed in the then newly created Chinatown Hawker Centre late last century.
I had wanted to retell their tale of preserving this food culture but had not found the right time.
That is until my makan buddy Tony Boey of the Johor Kaki blog posted about these icons recently.
The post rings loud with one iconic dish, the Golden Coin Tofu. Yuet Loy is possibly the last hawker in Singapore to handmake and sell this Cantonese classic.
Of course, it has a host of other comforting dishes too.
First, the integral part of all good Cantonese meals is the soup. The old-school Boxthorn Soup (Kao Kay Tong, from $7) with pork and fish is a delight.
It comes specked with egg drops and sweet bitter vegetables that are so nicely married with the umami from the meats and fish.
Before my "ahh" of satisfaction was complete, the platter of its signature Golden Coin Tofu (from $5) showed up.
You need your head checked if you do not love this dish. Just reading the recipe alone is tedious, let alone making it.
Mashed tofu, with egg and corn starch, is moulded into a ball, deep-fried, then braised for 10 to 15 minutes till it is carpet-like outside and mushy soft within.
The light salted fish sauce with a few strands of headless beansprouts really hits the spot.
You will need rice to complete the meal marathon.
When the Steamed Chicken with Salted Fish (from $13) was served, I knew I was saved by the rice. The salty goodness is enlivened by a splash of Chinese wine and ginger in the sauce.
The ultra smooth chicken, I suspected, was breathed in a puff of corn starch before being steamed. This one is to die for.
I also tucked into another Guangzhou comfort dish, the Fish and Kailan (from $13). The slices of sang yu fish are so fresh - soft yet firm - and have a delightful texture.
You can do this only if you have a high heat wok to sear the fish quickly without breaking the slices. That takes skill.
Yuet Loy Cooked Food
Block 335 Smith Street
#02-151, Chinatown Hawker Centre
Opens 12.30pm to 2pm and 6.30pm to 9pm
Closed on Wednesday and Thursday