Ampang Yong Tau Foo in JB

A serving of mixed vegetables and tofu in soup at
Ampang Yong Tau Foo restaurant, Taman Kempas Utama
Nelson Loong, 58, was brought up near Ampang in Kuala Lumpur and Ampang yong tau foo or beancurd stuffed with fishcake, has been his favourite food ever since he tasted it as a child.  In the early 1990s when Loong moved to live and work in Johor Baru, he always yearned for a taste of his favourite Ampang yong tau foo.  So each time he was back in KL, he must have his fill of yong tau foo before coming back to JB.
Loong clearly remembers that he was on holiday in New Zealand when he longed for a taste of yong tau foo and wondered to himself – “if only I can bring Ampang yong tau foo to JB” – and on his return, he went to meet with the people who run Ampang yong tau foo in KL.  This resulted in his business partnership with Ampang yong tau foo and they opened their outlet at Taman Johor Jaya in 1993.  This worked out well for Loong and other fans of Ampang yong tau foo in JB who no longer needed to go to Ampang for their regular fix of quality stuffed beancurd meals. 

Nelson Loong [Left] and his wife, Fancy, with some
of the food items served in their restaurant
When the outlet at Taman Johor Jaya was closed, Loong gave serious thought to filling this vacuum again for fans of Ampang yong tau foo in JB and decided to open a new outlet.  He understands the business and the skills involved for the individually hand-stuffed tofu and vegetables and started to find reliable local sources for fresh ingredients.  

It took a while to set up the operations but it was all worth the wait because Loong and his wife, Fancy, recently opened their Ampang Yong Tau Foo restaurant at Taman Kempas Utama.

A choice of deep-fried dumplings and crispy beancurd skin

“We follow the original Ampang yong tau foo recipe and tweaked it to enhance the natural flavour of fresh mackerel fish,” said Loong as he discussed the main ingredients that go into the tofu and vegetable stuffing.  

The menu follows the same tradition of steamed and deep-fried items with servings either in soup or with white rice.  “Our food is made strictly without preservatives, artificial flavouring or pork products,” he added.

A platter of stuffed tofu and vegetables

He said the purity in the ingredients and soup base is a healthier choice, suitable for all ages and can be eaten either as a main meal or just for a snack.  For the customers’ convenience, stuffed items like soft and fried tofu, ladies fingers, brinjals, bitter gourd, whole red chillies and dumplings can be selected separately or ordered in a standard set.  

This flexibility in choice and the natural ingredients used are probably why regulars come to dine almost 3 to 4 times a week!

Soft white stuffed tofu with a side of dip sauce
“The natural sweetness in our clear soup is from a recipe that uses ingredients like fish, turnip and soya beans,” said Fancy who personally supervises the kitchen team in their basement kitchen.  

She is pleased that customers of all ages can enjoy the soft and fried items in their restaurant.  In fact, she observed that some elderly people who like the crispy deep-fried items will soak them in the soup before they chew into the softened food!

Loong and his wife are thrilled that fans of Ampang yong tau foo can now have their regular fix of comfort food at a nearby location which is distinguished by wall murals on the side of the building.  

Fancy Loong showing off a wall mural at the side
of the building
Buoyed up by the enthusiastic response from regulars, Loong is upbeat about the future of his Ampang yong tau foo and has an ultimate aim to establish this brand internationally.  With his secret recipe and sheer hard work, Loong hopes that someday soon we may even enjoy this comfort food while we are travelling abroad!

Ampang Yong Tau Foo is located at No. 2, Jalan Kempas Utama 3/1, Taman Kempas Utama, 81300 Johor Baru.  Opening hours: 10.30am to 3pm and 6pm to 9pm daily and closed on alternate Wednesday.  Tel: 607 – 550 0237.  No pork products are used.

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Streets Johor on 26 Nov 2014

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