Monday, May 21, 2012

Tau Hway Pudding King

So for those who know me, I have recently been OBSESSED with tau huay/hway pudding.

With a smooth, creamy custard like texture, tau hway pudding is similar to the soy bean dessert we've all grown up with, sans the sugar syrup. So essentially, the sweetness is infused into the tofu-textured dessert instead.

Now everyone knows of the original Rocher Beancurd place near Selegie Road, and one stall away from it- just as a "Dynasty" or "Days of our Lives" soap opera script will have it, a feuding family member has set up shop. (as in pic- see red sign)

Much like the famous tian tian- chicken rice war happening in Maxell Hawker Centre... (Watch here on RazorTV for background) People pick favourites. And queues form. Usually out of curiosity.

For Rocher, my favourite is actually the feuding family members place. Smoother, and less cloying, the tau hway slips into your throat putting a happy smile on your tummy. BUT, if you are a fan of "you tiao", those calorified-fun-sticks-of-fried-dough, the original stall with its soya-bean-doing-a-dance logo, hits it on the right on the nail. Perhaps because with more patrons, each batch is fresher.

Rocher beancurd and youtiao... nom nom nom..

Not wanting to face stares of recrimination, which could very well incinerate you and send you straight to the gates of hell, my copout method- DA PAO. I go to Rocher, get the youtiao, and then head next door, and buy my tau huay.

BUT- I digress.

Now on to our topic of tau hway puddings. There are quite a few available these days. Near my place at Marine Parade Central- there is Kampung Boy- you buy 10, get one free. And they have flavours like Cappuccino and Durian. O_O  And yes. I have bought 10 at one shot. For our 4 family members. And its gone in.. a day-and-a-half. Flat. My sis tends to prefer the almond version from this stall the most.

There is an organic one at the SPH famed eatery "Aroma"- aptly nicknamed thanks to the sze char stall that most SPH staff patronise till the wee-hours of the morning for a food fix. With shallow bowls, and at $1.50 each, Happy House beancurd has a loyalty card that will give you a free dessert after 10 bowls bought. They also have a good mango pomelo sago that is thick and really hits the spot.

Unfortunately, their tau huay pudding, though super smooth, when da-paoed, tends to completely disintegrate after a few hours. Even when refrigerated! I know some people like to eat their tau huay all chopped up, and add soy bean milk into it. That's essentially what this dessert looks like when it falls apart. In my opinion, eating tay huay chopped up that way is a travesty in itself. Why would anyone want to eat something that looks regurgitated?!!! Hence, not a fan of it. Though it keeps me going during the long days at work. It also has a bit of a powdery aftertaste. And the chocolate version while has a good flavour, tends to seperate like milo when left for too long and the bottom bit becomes darker. Ya. NEXT!

Another one of my faves, the one at Maxwell food centre, run by a bubbly bespectacled girl, Felicia. I have gone there so often in the last few weeks usually around 1 to 3am in the morning after events/girlsnightsoutatgaybars, that she now knows my name, and the names of all my friends who have gone with me.

Best "Service with a smile award"- goes to 86 Maxwell Food Centre

Smooth and creamy, light and not too sweet, this tay huay pudding is pretty good. Their double chocolate is worth a try too because its nice and cohesive till your last slippery spoonful. They also have other flavours like almond, green tea and strawberry. Also comes in a big bowl, and is incredily consistent.

Today though, my parents decided on Old Airport Road for lunch. AND LO AND BEHOLD. There were so many stores selling tau hway.

First row- there was the "Authentic Hong Kong Soyabeancurd dessert"- that starred exotic flavours like blueberry even.

Second row- there was the famed "Lao Ban" stall, with "Happy boy" two doors away. And across it, a traditional soya beancurd place that sells sugarcane and chin chow too.

And 3rd row- A place that touts its all soy products (two stores to your right if you enter from the carpark) and the 51 beancurd.

But I didn't want to get tau-huay-ed out. So I kept it simple.

A 3-cornered fight.

Since there were about 80 people in the queue when I first got to Lao Ban, and the Indian genes hankering for a good deal was attracted to a sign on this stall...

1-for-1 deal on tau huay pudding at Happy Boy, for limited time only

Well, it was hard for me to resist.
So at $2.50 cents- I got myself the mango and the milo flavours. TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE. AWESOME!

And then began the queue for "lao ban"..

50 people in front of me!!! I actually counted!

You would think there was a pot of gold at the end of the queue. My parents and sis had queued AND finished eating satay, wanton mee, oyster omelette, carrot cake and otah the entire time I was queueing.

In fact, by the time they finished purchasing and chowing down on their grub... I was still only...

MORE than 45 mins later, I was still 5 people away -_-
I did wonder at that point if I should have paid a foreign worker to queue for me.
Like some people at H & M marni, who threw a hissy fit and asked for the clip to be removed.

Yup. 5 people away. (And losing patience.)

One thing I've noticed though. People buy TONS at this stall. I felt really bad for the old school tau huay uncle directly opposite who had hardly any customers, other than for sugarcane and cooling chin chow. (Which I might add- is heaven on a hot Singapore day.)

I think you get pressured by the amount of time you spend in the queue. I mean, why spend close to an hour of your life to buy ONE bowl of tau huay pudding right? So, most people take home at least 4 bowls at a time. Though many I saw, bought as many as 15 to 20 bowls. That really made me wonder: Seriously? I thought the PM said we aren't making many babies. O_O

By the way, I tried to get an ALMOND one for my sis at Lao Ban. The aunty checked and said there weren't any more left and put the not available sticker across the signboard. You should have heard the sighs and groans in the crowd. And the accusatory stares. It wasn't me! I swear!!!

Anyhoos, at the end of the day. I bought 5 for $7.50. And popped to 51, and bought myself another original.


Ok. Because I needed to hunt for thigh high boots at city plaza, (Event that night, and choice of shopping venue.. do I really need to elaborate?) AND my parents and sis had no patience.. I did a home tasting.

The final 3 from old airport road: Far left- Happy Boy (mango), middle 51 soya bean (original) and Lao Ban (original)

*drumroll please*

Doing the taste test. Its a tough job. But someone's gotta do it.

Happy Boy beancurd- I managed to wallop half.
Don't ask about the pose. Not sure what that is about either.

The Happy Boy beancurd was good value for money. Unfortch, while waiting for me at Lao Ban.. my parents and sis finished my milo one. -_-"

That said, the mango version was good. It tasted like a very smooth, light version of mango pudding, sans the yummy mango chunks. It was smooth, nicely textured, but did have a slightly powdery aftertaste. If you try all three at the same time. This definitely tastes overpowering and cloyingly sweet in comparison because of the flavouring. But, I did give it another go on day 2, and it actually seemed more well balanced. Actually, mango is a very nice flavoured option.

What I didn't like about this though, the size. The bowl seemed a lot shallower and smaller than the other two. Though at 1-for-1, it more or less works out. Bear in mind, the original flavour that is sold at $1.50 as well, is also 1-for-1. So if you don't want to wait, and want a good deal. This is a pretty good fix.

My score for Happy Boy- 2.5/5
(I personally prefer Kampung Boy at Marine Parade Central that would get a 3/5 on my list.)

Testing out the Lao Ban tau huay pudding-
With the amount of time I queued, it should have tasted like blood, sweat and tears.
This was really light. And super smooth. Although when I first opened the lid, it had a layer of skin on the top similiar to when you eat the Hong Kong steamed milk pudding that I love.

Bearing in mind I had da-paoed and had about 20 mins before I got back home... I don't think this stall's pudding lasts for long. You better go home quick if you buy that many.

The super smooth texture that the stall claims is achieved by using "Coffeemate", ** has a light, airy, barely there texture that dissolves as soon as it hits your tongue. But this I think, and this is merely my hypothesis, is achieved by using a lot of water because...

After a couple of bites, the Lao Ban version sorta starts disintegrating and falling apart.

TADAH! This is how it looked after barely a couple of bites. Bearing in mind the 20 mins of non-refrigeration. Please note as well that with my previous experiments, as well as this one, once it reaches this stage, it only gets more watery the day after refrigeration. The only way to "get the texture back" is to freeze it and let it thaw slowly.

The ones that weren't touched at all still held ok the second day, but were still more watery than when we bought them.

This was also easy on the palate and the main difference- its light on the sweetness. Eating it was like.. a butterfly kiss. IMHO, there wasn't an intense soya bean flavour to this either. So.... was it worth the wait.

Meh. I guess, if 3/5 floats your boat.

The surprise winner of the Old airport road Tau Huay pudding title for me was unexpected.

My fave of the 3!

Yes. The picture is self-explanatory. My thumbs up goes to 51.

If Lao Ban  was like a butterfly kiss. This was a decent french kiss. Just enough lip. Just enough tongue. And not too much saliva either.

This tau huay was smooth, but more dense, and even though it had more of a original tau huay texture, it still slipped down my throat like butter. What piqued me most- it also had the closest taste to actual tau huay. Something that Lao Ban lost out slightly on. But though this was sweeter, it wasn't because of the sugar. Its like I said about the kisses. Lao Ban had merely a hint of soya bean, but 51, had a more intense soya bean flavour which shot back to my sensememory triggers which recalled the ever-so-famous, and sadly gone 24-hr Tau Huay King place at Geylang (just before the famous Beey Kuay Teow at Lorong 8, beside the mosquem and it used to sell xiao-long-bao, tea eggs and oyster mee sua as well) that used to be THE to-go-to place for tau huay. Same flavour. But in a pudding form. NAISE.

My verdict: 3.7/5

It's not a four. But its pretty close.

On days of desperation, I have also tried the soy beancurd pudding versions sold in cheers and NTUC fairprice. They are actually... quite expensive hor. O_O So I usually only tend to get them when there is a 2 for 1 offer. Not too bad... but only rates a 2/5 on my list- so really. I only eat it to stave off my cravings before I get a good fix.

BUT.. who knows.. I might try making my own...

Have seen some people discussing making it on threads, and this seems like quite a good version . It claims to be the LAO BAN recipe. So who knows!! Might try making my own soon!!

*sara rubbing hands in glee!*

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