The art of preparing the soy bean pudding ( or Tau Fu Fah in Cantonese) as a dessert dish is steeped in migration history, family folklore and as a quick snack. Consuming this on a regular basis is supposed to help ensure the face has a skin as delicate as the dish. Making this for the mother-in-law is a test of faith and skill. It was sold by vendors who carried them on poles over their shoulders and now served in precious porcelain cups for the elders. Beans are a staple in southern Chinese diet and to have them ground to such fine granularity is a separate art itself.
For many years now, I have been advised to try this at Kreta Ayer, but until on this recent visit, I was told on several visits that they had sold this out. This made me more curious and determined to find out what the fuss was all about. It comes in a whopping traditional big wooden container, like a wine bucket and I do wonder why, for it is good enough to be shared by four persons. Fine brown sugar and syrup is offered in the set.
Okay went in our first gulp of the silken, smooth concoction. By itself, the soya bean is tasteless but agreeable. It is not over powering and in the worst of opinions I hear, rather bland. Ah ha, so the trick is to gradually add the syrup and sugar to a level that pleases your palate. There is a hint of ginger and Pandanus leaves, but all in a subtle way. I begin to compare with the Tau Fu Fah served at the Hong Kong Old Town in Sydney's Chinatown.
Our verdict is to try it at least once - I would not follow up myself. The servings here are better than at most yum cha places.
Amongst its listing for entrees are braised pig trotters, deep fried soya bean cake (Tau Hu) and the Ngoh Hiang pork roll ( a Straits Chinese version of the Lobak). There is also the more south Indian emphasised dry curry leaf chicken and the Ayam Kapitan, a rather unique sea faring curry made for a Dutch captain on long voyages.
The general impression I get on feedback regarding Kreta Ayer is to know what to call - the iconic dish is the Tau Fu Fah as described above. I do find the customer engagement better at the Eastwood cafe than at Kingsford. I had found the Char Koay Teow average but Hawker in Sydney city centre is hard to beat for this street food classic from Penang.
There is also Bah Kut Teh with deep fried Chinese style doughnuts and the old fashioned Imperial pork ribs, once found in every respectable Chinese restaurant in the suburbs.
I saw an omelette with white bait, a kind of comfort food once common in home meals across the Malayan Peninsular and Singapore. Barramundi fish with tamarind flavours can be an appetiser. There is cereal prawns (do I get this at Albee's as well) but I am not sure what Maggi prawns are. I notice many China nationals digging into the Kreta Ayer version of chilli or spicy soft shell crabs.
Kreta Ayer refers to an iconic suburb in Singapore, and the menu here emphasises what close ties there really are between Malaysian Chinese and Singaporean food. Taro flavoured ice cream is available here, together with durian smoothies, stir fried Hor fun with seafood and a variety of laksas.
Kreta Ayer visited is located at 172 Rowe Street, Eastwood NSW - along the mall and near the curved road junction.
Opening hours are from 10am to 11pm every day.
Contact +612 9858 3203