Soon Li Yong Tau Foo – Crazy Queue & Grumpy Auntie At Singapore’s Most Stressful Hawker Stall
”Don’t publicise for my stall ANYMORE. Look at the queue!” This is what Soon Li auntie specifically told me.
I am writing this mainly for my own food diary, and to include some tips JUST in case you want to pay a visit.
Contrary to its name “Soon Li” 顺利, which in Chinese means “smooth flowing”, there is nothing “Soon Li” about the whole buying process.
Warning: this can be one of the most stressful hawker food experiences you ever come across. It felt like The Hunger Games.
Firsts thing first, this Yong Tau Foo supposedly opens at midnight, and closes about 3am. HOWEVER, it can change its operating hours as and when.
When I was at Bukit Merah View Hawker Centre about 11:30pm, there was already a clutter of people waiting around, but not in line yet.
Nearing midnight, a line automatically formed.
What to do – don’t know. Just wait.
”Please go and sit down… The stall won’t open yet” Auntie repeatedly told the customers in line to take a seat around.
I was the ONLY one who did so, then thought something was amiss when nobody followed me, and so went back to queue.
The signal to look out for is when the stall’s light come on, and everybody will CHIONG (rush) forward.
I was perplexed then. That initial queue didn’t even matter anymore.
Some went to form another line on the left hand side. That is the “pay money queue” – which to me was redundant. Who came up with all these ‘rules’ in the first place?
I am sure if EVERYONE goes in an orderly fashion, first come first served, there wouldn’t be a need for this rush and ordeal.
Points to note for the first timers
– Stall opens around midnight or later (Was about 12:40am for me).
– Best to go with at least one other person to command and conquer (Overheard: one to kiap, one to pay, one to elbow people, one to chope table.)
– There are supposedly 2 queues – one to pick items on the right, one to pay on the left.
– When the stall’s light turn on, customers would surge forward to pick ingredients.
– Just take whatever fancies you. You are not choosing a husband/wife.
– Put the orange bowl on the top the rack. That is the REAL ‘queue’. The bowls would be cooked in that order.
– Under no circumstances should you block the passageway, because auntie will SCOLD you. Somehow people keep blocking her and of course got reprimanded (but she had her reasons for doing so.)
– Uncle would ask if you want a) vegetables b) ikans billis c) noodles or bee hoon d) soup or dry e) Sauce or not. Just say “Add everything. Noodles or bee hoon. Soup or dry.” DO NOT be wishy-washy. Give clear instructions.
– Auntie would bring the metal container out to the table. But some customers kan cheong wanted to take the bowls from her. Of course kenna scolded again.
– An indicative pricing could be anything from $8 to $20 plus. My pot you see in the photo was $14.
The star of the Yong Tau Foo to me was the soup base, cooked with deep fried ikan billis and pork belly. Tasty, full of flavours, surprisingly not overly salty or oily.
As for the items themselves, I say… go for the Pork Belly.
Some of the deep fried items would sound good on paper, but became soggy after a while. The good thing is, they are all fried rather fresh (at 11pm plus.)
Worth a visit? For the experience, yet. Food, certainly better than the average YTF anytime, but not life-changing. (The queue was the life-changing experience.)
I read many reviews which wrote about the fierce and grumpy auntie. Actually, I would like to think about this from other perspective.
Whenever she ‘scolded’, she didn’t use a harsh tone. In fact she said “Please”, “Can you” (in Mandarin). It was only after customers pissed her off – I saw one entering her stall to get a bowl out, then she would get more aggressive.
The weird thing is, despite repeated times of her telling people NOT to block her way, people still do so.
Overheard: Look at this, if there is a war in Singapore, we probably won’t survive.
Soon Li Yong Tau Foo
115 Bukit Merah View, #01-78 Bukit Merah View Market & Hawker Centre, Singapore 151115
Opening Hours: 12am – 3am (Note: Hours vary and stall may open later than midnight, and close earlier than indicated.)
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November 28, 2016