There is another yong tau foo eatery in Glen Waverley. It also happens to have the same name as the one that’s been standing around the corner from the train station for years, The Grand Tofu. The Grand Tofu 2, however, is on the same strip of shops as Village Cinemas, Bob’s Kitchen and JG Dumplings so one can easily have a bowl of noodles and soup after a session at the cinemas or after a afternoon in the library. Adam and I decided to visit the restaurant in its third week of business sometime last week at around 11:30 in the morning. Although it was not yet officially lunchtime, the place was swarming with people and we were lucky just to find a table towards the back of the restaurant. Now, the only reason why we wanted to eat here was to try some yong tau foo which, some of you know, involves standing by the counter and choosing your soup base (clear, tom yum or curry), your noodles (rice, vermicelli or Hokkien) and six of the 15 or so little dumplings/stuffed beancurds/wantons/UFOs laid out on display in the glass cabinet. The protocol that we’ve been following at all other yong tau foo restaurants was to march up to the counter, choose your items, pay for them and then find a seat.
Not in this case.
So after we’re hastily seated, we get up to choose the stuff that would be going into our meals. But while we’re halfway choosing, we’re ushered back into our seats and snidely told us that “this wasn’t the way they do it here.” Apparently, we were supposed first sit on the table, wait for someone to come around with a menu, read the menu on the table and actually TELL the waiter, while seated, that we wanted to order yong tau foo. The waiter is then to write ‘yong tau foo’ on his piece of paper before he prints out a ticket from the cashier which is then handed to us. We are THEN to get up from our table, with the ticket, and then hand the ticket over to the bored-looking lady who is manning the tong yau foo cabinet who THEN proceeds to make our dish according to our specifications. This so-called “procedure” is not only confusing to first-timers but also inefficient, adding an extra 5-10 minutes to our waiting time. I’m one of those people who can get frustrated easily over little things like these but I just so happened to be sick (the potentially swiney kind of sick) that day so I was especially grumpy.
Admittedly, our yong tau foo were quite decent though not any better than other places I’ve been to. I ordered one with a clear broth and rice noodles which I then added some chilli oil to make it a bit more spicy for me. I wasn’t happy about the lack of dumplings they had in that cabinet, but I did make up for it by putting in an extra prawn and pork wanton and stuffed fried doughnuts alongside my fish cake and fried vegetarian bean curd skin. Adam’s curry soup, while tasty, didn’t seem to have the same punch as my clear broth though.
Each bowl was, from memory, $9.50 which is the standard these days but I probably wouldn’t go there if I have to deal with the cumbersome ordering procedure again!