Last year, a reader who worked near Maxwell Food Centre wrote to me about Maxwell Hakka Handmade Yong Tau Foo, a new stall there that he would make a beeline for every time he craved the dish.

But just as I was about to check it out, the stall closed as it was moving to another location within the same food centre.

It reopened last month, so I was there in a jiffy.

This stall features the usual yong tau foo items such as green chilli, bittergourd, ladies’ fingers and tofu.

But what makes the items stand out is that they are stuffed with a fish-and-meat paste that is handmade every morning.

Stall co-owner Vincent Quik also mixes hand-grated carrots into the paste, so the yong tau foo items displayed on the shelves are speckled with a cheery orange.

MAXWELL HAKKA HANDMADE YONG TAU FOO

01-22 Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur Street; tel: 8399-1390; open: 7am to 3pm (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays and public holidays; go to www.facebook.com/MaxwellHakkaYTF

Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 5

A bowl of five items with chee cheong fun costs $4, while five items with noodles cost $3.80. Every additional item costs 60 cents.

Yong tau foo connoisseurs might find the food here familiar. As it turns out, Mr Quik is the nephew of the owner of Amoy Street Hakka Yong Dou Fu. He struck out on his own after picking up his skills from his uncle.

Here, the yong tau foo is tasty, and adding grated carrot is such a good idea. Besides making the items look prettier, the carrot also adds a bouncy crunch.

I tried the steamed tofu square and deep-fried halved hard-boiled egg – both of which have a layer of carrot-fish-meat paste pressed into them, giving them a nice chewy texture.

I especially liked the deep-fried brinjal, whose taste is no doubt helped along by being passed through hot oil.

Special mention must be given to the sauces – the housemade chilli sauce is savoury and tangy and has an undertone of ginger and a dash of something that tasted like taucheo (fermented soya bean paste), which lifts its taste.

Mixing it with the sweet yong tau foo sauce (also housemade) balances its tanginess.

And Mr Quik also drizzles a fragrant housemade oil over the food, the blend of which remains a trade secret.

The small bowl of soup that came with my dry yong tau foo was light but rich with the flavour of ikan bilis, and is a nice accompaniment to the main dish.

Maxwell Food Centre is already bursting with good food and with the addition of this new stall, people who work around there are truly an enviable lot come lunchtime.

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