Painstakingly handmade Yong Tau Foo

One of the most popular yong tau foo stall in Tiong Bahru market is run by Mr Edwin Tan, 58. Like many of the long-time stallholders here, Mr Tan took over the business from his father. He started helping his father at the market when he was only 9 years old. At that time, their stall was dealing with frozen food instead of yong tau foo. Through his childhood, Mr Tan was at the market almost every day. Even through his NS years, he was still helping at the market during his precious weekends off.

Selling frozen food is very physically demanding. How this works in the wet market is that frozen goods, like pork belly for example, comes in boxes of 10 or 20 kgs. The stallholders would then chop these up into smaller pieces for sale to end consumers who buy in much smaller portions as compared to b2b customers. The hard part is they cannot allow the frozen item to thaw before chopping it up. This means that the item is rock hard when cutting. Much force is needed for every chop and each chop will reverberate all the way up the arm. The nature of this wore on Mr Tan and he decided to change track to sell yong tau foo 16 years ago.

Although Mr Tan was new to the yong tau foo business, his meticulousness and commitment to quality meant that his business quickly became popular. Today he still insists on making his yong tau foo by hand. His stall boasts a very large variety of yong tau foo items. He also carries a myriad of very interesting items like crocodile meat.

In addition to running the day to day of his very popular yong tau foo stall, Mr Tan also doubles as a very prominent member of the Tiong Bahru Market and Hawker Association. Mr Tan oversees the General Affairs of the Hawker Association. He ranks 2nd within the association, just after the chairman. His role requires him to liaise with the NEA and outside contractors to ensure the whole market and hawker centre runs smoothly and without maintenance issues. As someone who has connections in many different wet markets, I can personally attest that Tiong Bahru Market is the most well-run market by a mile. The credit for this goes to the group of people at the Market and Hawker Association. Mr Tan has devoted a great amount of his time to the Hawker Association and he carries great pride in seeing the market continue to run efficiently.

Mr Tan has 3 children, 2 of whom are still in university. His children do not have the intent to take over his business. Fortunately, Mr Tan is still young and he has many good years ahead of him, which means we all can continue to enjoy good quality yong tau foo for the foreseeable future.

If you have a chance to visit Tiong Bahru Market, please do not hesitate to stop by Mr Ong’s stall and be amazed by the wide variety of yong tau foo and other interesting items for sale. Of course, Mr Tan’s products are also available through  

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