Support 86-year-old Uncle Tan’s handmade Cantonese-style yusheng one last time

Savouring yusheng is a yearly affair for most who celebrate Chinese New Year, but let’s face it, most over-the-counter and restaurant renditions use factory-made ingredients which likely contain preservatives. I recently found out from Melvin Chew, the owner of Facebook group, ‘Hawkers United – Dabao 2020‘ that his favourite home-based handmade yusheng will be running for the last time till 24 Feb 2024.

Coincidentally just a few months back, I visited Melvin’s stall, Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap.

handmade yusheng - picture with owner

For nearly 5 decades during the CNY period, 86-year-old Uncle Tan has been selling his homemade yusheng in his humble flat. Unfortunately, his wife who used to handle order calls passed away last year, prompting him to consider retirement.

Curious, I contacted Uncle Tan’s son, Ben, to find out more.

“My father started his cooking career as an apprentice at the age of 11, and later on in the 1980s, he established Red Horse Restaurant at Tiong Bahru, becoming its head chef”, Ben shared.

handmade yusheng - chinatown complex market
handmade yusheng - chinatown complex market

“After closing the restaurant, we were among the first to sell yusheng at Chinatown Complex Market and Food Centre for around 20 years, which got Melvin, whose stall was at the same hawker centre, addicted to it!” Ben exclaimed with a laugh.

“Ours is a traditional Cantonese-style— it isn’t nice to look at due to its messiness, but its taste is fairly good. Would you like to order one? Ben asked me.

handmade yusheng - flat
handmade yusheng - flat

Determined to support Uncle Tan, I agreed and made my way down to self-collect (no delivery and strictly only cash payment upon collection)

handmade yusheng - uncle & son
handmade yusheng - uncle & son

When I arrived, Ben had just returned home from work and I had the opportunity to click a picture together with both father and son. Uncle Tan had hearing aids on and was using a walking stick when I greeted him. It’s no wonder why Ben is currently helping his father with all the heavy duty stuff.

Here are the prices for the yusheng:

Vegetarian Yusheng

  • S$24 (small)

  • S$28 (medium)

  • S$32 (large)

Jelly Fish Yusheng

  • S$27 (small)

  • S$32 (medium)

  • S$38 (large)

Abalone Yusheng

  • S$38 (small)

  • S$55 (large)

I ordered the small Jelly Fish Yusheng and paid Uncle Tan in cash (he doesn’t own a handphone).

handmade yusheng - yusheng
handmade yusheng - yusheng

Unlike store-bought ones, the Jelly Fish Yusheng was devoid of any bright neon green or red hues. It was a melange of jellyfish, coriander, pickled ginger, ground peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, julienned carrot and radish, and finely-shredded kaffir lime leaves.

A packet of crackers, 2 calamansi, sesame oil and plum sauce is served alongside.

handmade yusheng - sauce pouring
handmade yusheng - sauce pouring

After tasting Uncle Tan’s yusheng, I now grasp why it receives high praise from personalities like KF Seetoh and chef Benny Se Teo.

handmade yusheng - salad closeup
handmade yusheng - salad closeup

Unlike traditional versions that have five spice powder and seasonings, Uncle Tan’s version tastes fresh and less sweet. The jellyfish also adds a satisfying crunch.

If you’ve not made plans for your CNY’s yusheng, why not support Uncle Tan and have a taste of his handmade goodness? I’m already planning to have it again for my upcoming CNY reunion dinner.

To order, simply drop a WhatsApp message to Ben at +65 9322 3271.

Do note that collection time is from 10am – 6pm daily.

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