My favourite throwback to a childhood comfort food is beancurd or “tow huay” in my Teochew dialect. In those bygone Sundays, the itinerant vendor selling this sweet delight would appear in our neighbourhood before noon. How did he arrive? No, not in a push cart, motorised tricycle or in a van. He walked, and horizontally across his shoulder was a piece of hard wood, of some 1.5 metres in length, upon which suspended a wooden cabinet on either end. One cabinet, in the shape of a tub, contains piping hot beancurd whilst the other contains bowls, spoons, syrup etc for serving the beancurd. Just like the art installation below of an itinerant satay vendor of bygone days…
For the Chinese, this unfermented soya bean curd, or more commonly known as tofu, is rich in protein. With a history of over 2,000 years, tofu production is an ancient Chinese technique and its consumption forms part of their diet. Since bean curd is considered a nourishing and healthy food, we need little to convince our Mom then to give us a treat. Yes, in those bygone days, having our weekly bean curd was a treat indeed.
Fast forward to the current trend in street food revival around the world. The increasing number of TV channels dedicated to street food is a testament to this trend.
In Singapore, Rochor Beancurd House has three outlets (addresses and opening hours at the end of this post) to offer their delectable version of this ubiquitous street food. A recent chat with Jason Koh at his Upper Thompson outlet reveals that he is in the third generation from the Rochor Original Beancurd at 2, Short Street, one which was started by his grandma when she emigrated to Singapore, with his uncle and father. Jason’s father was the “chief cook” then.
So what pulled Jason away from working longer and more comfortably as a professional after his poly graduation with an IT diploma under his belt? The F&B industry, especially in Singapore, where barriers to entry are low and competition is high, witnesses “Some 9000 new F&B businesses are incorporated each year, and some 9000 close shop too”.
From my conversation with Jason, who was rather candid about his business strategy, I learnt that:
- He wanted to pay tribute to his dad’s legacy and skills in making good beancurd – a payback to his parents, a filial piety in kind.
- Strong belief in offering quality products through QC, and
- Sound staffing policies, providing jobs and economic benefits to society.
1. With Jason at the helm, Rochor Beancurd House translates his passion and focus in making the best core product (beancurd and soya milk) and creating new complementary products.
Amongst the secrets to Rochor Beancurd House’s curd and soya milk include the sourcing for fresh and high-quality non-GMO soya beans (yes, real beans and not soya bean powder!) from Canada, the traditional stone method for grinding the beans and a cooking recipe which preserves the rich flavours whilst eliminating the “raw aftertaste” of the soya beans.
Thus the beancurd served in Rochor Beancurd House is silky smooth and flavourful with the right firmness and not “watery”. You can specify the sweetness to match your preference too.
2. A traditional complement to the beancurd, or the soy milk if you prefer, is the you tiao (Chinese fried dough fritters), which should come with a crispy outside with a soft-to-chewy inside. This item tastes best when “fried on demand” – a service provided at Rochor Beancurd House!
3. Interestingly, the special offering of this home-made grass jelly, touted to be cooling and for soothing sore throats, goes well with a bowl of beancurd. Now, I can have my beancurd whilst my friends who are allergic to soybean products can have supper with me here at Rochor Beancurd House.
4. What I find unique in the Rochor Beancurd House is its strategy of introducing new products which complements the traditional ones viz. you tiao, ham chin pang, butterfly fritters.
Now you can try these top-selling items to complement your beancurd and soya milk drink :-
Fries With A Difference : The Crispy Tofu Fries, A House Specialty
Try them, these tofu fries!
Rochor’s One Dish Special : The Big Taro Bowl
Try this best-selling one bowl that fits all! These are the ingredients : Rochor’s trademark beancurd, Herbal Grass Jelly, Honey Pearl, Taro Yam Cubes plus the Eight Treasures (comprising healthy beans).
Taiwan Honey Chicken
Order this special fried chicken with your beancurd and soya milk, and you can have a meal! The chicken is juicy and succulent simply because this dish is “fried on demand” and not ready fried and left in the counter.
Taiwan Golden Squid
This Rochor’s fried squid is my new favourite complement (apart from the must-have you tiao) to my beancurd (which I order “hot” with one-third soya milk and two-thirds beancurd). The fragrance of the dish and its umami (うま味) are just mouth watering!
There is a secret to this dish. According to Jason, the recipe for this favourite street food in Taiwan was acquired by Rochor Beancurd House – for an undisclosed sum. (We asked)
From my younger friend’s perspective, here’s her post “Rochor Beancurd House: Where Celebrities Go For Their Tau Huay”
And for your convenience, I am sharing the locations of the 3 Rochor Beancurd outlets, and their operational hours, whenever you and your buddies decide to visit:
1) Rochor Beancurd House (Geylang)
745 Geylang Road Lor 39 S389653 (24 HRS)
2) Rochor Beancurd House (Balestier
432 Balestier Road #01-436 S329813 (1pm – 1.30am)
3)Rochor Beancurd House (Upper Thomson Road)
232 UPPER THOMSON ROAD Singapore 574363 (1pm – 2am)