The return of Yummy as Yummylicious

I know fans of good steamboat meals in Johor Baru will fondly recall a corner-shop steamboat restaurant opened along Jalan Harimau Tarum in Century Gardens since 2001, called Yummy Steamboat.

A familiar bank of chillers at Yummylicious
It was a down-to-earth name for a steamboat business and for almost 10 years, regulars enjoyed the wholesome goodness of tasty steamboat served with personalized service in this family-friendly steamboat place.

Albert Ng, the brains behind this business, is an ambitious entrepreneur who delights in trying new ventures to share his passion for good food with the locals.

Since I met him at Yummy Steamboat, he went on to open Kitamura Thai Suki & Shabu-Shabu, a restaurant at Jalan Kuning 2, Taman Pelangi in 2010, that offered a choice of Chinese, Thai and Japanese steamboat options.

Entrance to Yummylicious
When Yummy closed, regulars moved to Kitamura (where some dined here almost weekly!) for the familiar taste of yummy chicken broth, herbal, miso or tom-yam soups in steamboat meals.

Along with regulars who live in and around JB, my family and I were regular diners at Kitamura to enjoy hearty meals around a boiling steamboat, not just during the lunar new year season but all year round.

While Albert moved on in a venture to serve Thai cuisine, it was a sad time for steamboat fans here when this popular steamboat restaurant ended its business.

I remember how Albert, a hands-on entrepreneur, worked hard to perfect his recipes and sought help from friendly food-tasters, including me, to give him constructive feedback on his food.

I cannot forget that day (a few years ago) when he called to ask if I was at home and then he popped by to send me his food to taste and eagerly anticipated my comments!

He was so passionate about getting it right and was ready to listen to and accept comments, even if it was not positive.

Hygienically packed ingredients
in the chiller
Then late last year I received an invitation from Albert to dine at Yummylicious – a name coined from his original Yummy + Delicious – to experience their recently relaunched steamboat restaurant!

The only way to find out if Yummylicious is anything like Yummy or Kitamura, is to accept his invitation.

Unlike his previous restaurants, Yummylicious is situated upstairs I’m prepared to climb just one flight of steps to reach it.

At a glance I can spot electric stoves on the tables and the familiar bank of glass-fronted chillers with stacks of coloured plates within.

Nearby, plastic baskets for diners to collect their food choices from the chillers, tell me that Albert has indeed revived his original dining concept, first used in Yummy and then at Kitamura.

At a side counter, I see a range of sauces and condiments reminiscent of a Sauce Island with a stack of sauce plates for diners to help themselves to their signature Thai suki and green chilli sauce and other favourite toppings to enjoy as a dip.

Assemble your own dip sauce from
the Sauce Island
I meet Albert again, who welcomes me along with a few friends, for a dining experience here. He asks after my brother by name as we used to be regular diners at his former steamboat place.

As I listen to Albert explain that Yummylicious was launched with his business partner, Sherman, and how they aim to bring back the same dining pleasure that regulars used to enjoy since the days of Yummy Steamboat, I couldn’t wait to tell my brother.

Just as in the previous restaurants, an order form is given to us with a pencil to tick the boxes to indicate choice of soups – we can have Yin Yang or two soups in one hotpot – and place orders for side dishes and drinks.

For our group, Albert prepares two Yin Yang hotpots and fills one pot with his classic chicken broth and herbal soup while the other simmers with tom-yam and chicken broth.

“Time to go to the market!” I hear Albert’s familiar reminder and we head to the chiller to help ourselves to our choices of food ingredients.

Ingredients are provided in colour-coded plates and hygienically covered by cling wrap. Diners are welcome to take their pick to fill their baskets and bring it to their tables.

Yin Yang hotpots on the boil to cook
fresh ingredients from the chiller
These empty coloured plates (after the ingredients are cooked!) should be stacked on a trolley provided by each table, for the staff to tally before the bill is issued for payment.

A closer look at the labels next to the plates in the chiller shows prices that range from RM2 – RM4 – RM6 to RM8 per plate while the platter of seafood and sliced meats like beef and pork belly, are priced from RM12 to RM18 per plate.

The order form also lists familiar house specials like Pandan Chicken, Thai Fishcake, Pineapple Fried Rice, Fried Fish Slices, Fried Fish, Fried Tau Kee or beancurd skins and Fried Wantan.

I remember Albert’s own creation of Tau Kee made with fish paste on crispy beancurd skins which can be savoured either freshly fried or in the soup.

He is particularly proud of his Fried Fish and when it is served with a side of spicy dip sauce, I see curls of fried fish fillets, assembled along the length of the crispy fried fish bone!

Albert's signature Pineapple Fried Rice
When he serves his Pineapple Fried Rice, it is just as he used to prepare it – a fragrant dish of fried rice full of flavour and topped with whole toasted cashew nuts and a sprinkle of chicken floss.

As the soups bubble to a boil in the hotpots, ingredients are added in to cook and we start to enjoy a convivial steamboat meal, just as we used to do back then in Yummy.

As more diners are arriving, Albert goes to welcome them and attend to their meal orders.

Midway through our meal, he returns to our table and asks, “So how is the taste?”

I know he is referring to the soups.

I reach for a tissue paper to dab at my brow, already wet with perspiration, and assure him that the soups are just as I remember them – the chicken broth, the herbal soup and the tom-yam soup which is made from an authentic Thai recipe with no artificial ingredients.

Yes, Yummy is back again. Now opened as Yummylicious!

Yummylicious Steamboat (Non-Halal) is at No. 33-A & 35-A, (Upstairs) Jalan Kuning 2, Taman Pelangi, 80400 Johor Baru, with air-conditioned and non-air-condition sections.

Open from 5pm to 11pm, Wednesday to Sunday only. Closed on Monday and Tuesday.

For reservations, Tel: +607 – 3360980.

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