Sunday, March 25

chEAT SHEET KL: Foong Foong Restaurant (The Original Yong Tau Foo)

Ampang has always been associated with Yong Tau Foo and we have Restoran Foong Foong to thank for this light, yet filling, tofu-stuffed with minced pork wonder.  It also comes with okra, bitter gourd, and eggplants all swimming in this flavorful broth, which by the way, can be ordered and taken like soup.  Okay, I might have just invented the last part, but it seemed like my friends and I enjoyed doing so.  

Competition is stiff for the best Yong Tau Foo, depending on how you look at things, since almost everyone I know in KL, attest to Foong Foong being on top of the game.  After all, this family-run shop has kept their original recipes intact.  Others have tried to mimic their dishes and have upped the ante by trying to have better ambience, but for the most part, have failed on the taste department, and as for the ambience section, well, you sort of don't look for that when in dining in authentic Malaysian restaurants anyway.  If you're looking for an air-conditioned restaurant with an impeccably clean kitchen, Foong Foong is not the place for you.  If you are, however, looking for really good food, head over Ampang.  If you get lost, don't worry.  Everyone knows where this place is.
Ordering food is quite easy-going here but can get a little bit of getting used to.  Don't be foolish enough to expect waiters asking for your order.  Instead, head over to the counter on the left side and ask the gentleman with the microphone for your Yong Tau Foo.  And like most well-oiled family restaurants, I believe the two men behind the counter are part of the family.  Microphone you might ask?  Well, business can get really busy here, they actually have speakers in the kitchen, and bark orders that way.  Another family member sits in the kitchen, with a microphone (why am I not surprised), who accepts the order by way of speakers, and whispers the order right back at the cashier.  Why they haven't thought of another way of getting orders across at this day and age of technology baffled me, but I quickly forgot about this as soon as the food was brought to the table.
Take a look at the photo above.  This is also the same counter you have to walk up to for the bill.  It might be good to note, that everyone seems to order only two dishes here, so don't be surprised.  They actually only sell two items.  Aside from Yong Tau Foo, they're also known for Siu Kow, otherwise known as steamed dumplings.  However, my friends and I opted for the deep-fried counterpart.
At first bite, you would imagine that it had lacked something to balance the flavors - it already had enough umami, with the skin crisp and light, but it seemed to miss another flavor dimension.  And I have myself to blame, as I had forgotten to dip it in a combination of chili and hoisin, of which, the proportions are left with the diner's discretion.  When in doubt, go with a 50:50 combination.
See, now here's the good part.  Take another bite and you'll get to the yam beans, carrots, coriander, and wood ear fungus.  
Here's some intel for you.  They're so addicting, order as much as you can before the kitchen gets very busy!  Thank me later.
 All of it are hand-made in their no-fuss, let's-get-straight-to-business open-air kitchen.
And as you can tell, everything is cooked in big batches here.  After all, this restaurant gets packed easily, and getting a table here during lunch hour can be quite the battle.  I suggest you head out here before or after lunch hours.  They're open from 9am-4pm, although most attest that by 3pm, they've practically run out of things to serve.  

Restoran Foong Foong
621-A Jalan Ampang
6800 Ampang, Kuala Lumpur
(closed on Tuesdays)