Mention where the best Hakka yong tau fu (morsels of poached tofu and vegetables, all stuffed with smooth fishpaste) in Malaysia & Singapore come from, and chances are people would say it's from Ampang. Ampang yong tau fu is usually mentioned in the same breath as, say, Penang fried koay teow or Ipoh hor fun - dishes named after the places which best produced them.
Ampang's that little old Chinese village which, as Kuala Lumpur expanded, was swallowed up to become a satellite township of sorts. There is a stretch in Ampang today where a row of restaurants, all offering the ubiquitous yong tau fu proliferate. And the grande old dame of them all is Foong Foong Restaurant. Time Out KL mentioned that Foong Foong has been operating from this premises since 1974. Well, a KL uncle of mine insisted that he'd eaten Foong Foong's yong tau fu, perhaps selling from another spot in Ampang, since the mid-60s (before Malaysia's infamous race riots in 1969) - when a piece of yong tau fu costed only 6 Malaysian cents (it's 90 Malaysian cents each today).
So my lunch-time visit to Foong Foong last weekend was a pilgrimage of sorts - Foong Foong was the restaurant which put Ampang yong tau fu on the culinary map, where Malaysia and Singapore are concerned. But Foong Foong's yong tau fu was, oh wow, ABSOLUTELY delicious!! It knocked any pretenders (those numerous "Ampang yong tau fu" shops you'd find in Singapore from Siglap to Katong and more) for dead!! For a start, you can hardly detect the "fishy" smell you usually find in inferior quality fishpaste. At Foong Foong, the freshest fishmeat were hand-scraped from raw local fish each morning, the resultant paste-like fishmeat mixed with flavorings before being stuffed into silky smooth tofu, puffy tau pok, okra, aubergines, longish red chillis, bittergourd, etc., then gently poached in a tasty stock made from boiled fish bones, soybeans & vegetables.
A standard 15-piece mixed platter of yong tau fu can serve 2-3 pax. You can also order the very addictive deep-fried wantons, filled with fishpaste, crunchy waterchesnuts & sweet grated carrot - great with hoisin and chilli sauce dips.
The only other side-dishes were stir-fried vegetables (either choy sum, sang choy or yau mak) in oyster sauce, topped with crisp, golden-fried chopped garlic.
Foong Foong Restaurant
621-A, Jalan Besar Ampang
Operating hours: 10am-7pm daily, except Tue (closed)
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