I haven’t been this pissed since eating Saveur.
With Darren planning a trip to Beijing, it got my nostalgic senses twinkling. It was a trip of a thousand highlights, but one of the high points has got to be the breakfast I had at Beijing South Railway Station before my intercity commute to Tianjin. It didn’t come recommended, nor was it something that I expected, but any well-heeled traveler will know that it’s when you least expect it that you find something out of this world. To me, it was the best dou jiang in the world. Yet, I didn’t even realize it until I returned to Singapore.
豆浆 (pronounced: dou jiang) is soy milk. 豆奶 (pronounced: dou nai), which is the word we’re more familiar with, also refers to the same thing although proponents of Chinese Mandarin and Taiwanese Mandarin insist that the word is incorrect, both linguistically and factually. Because it’s a non-animal based product, it cannot be considered a “milk”. In addition, the Chinese word for milk denotes a female gender. So, the word “jiang”, which means drink, beverage or liquid is therefore more suitable.
While Googling “dou jiang in Singapore”, the search narrowed down to “Yong He Eating House” which piqued my interest. In Greater China, the words “Yonghe” have become synonymous with Chinese breakfasts. The name has its origins in the district of the same name, which is famous for its soy milk. Many breakfast eateries have since incorporated “Yonghe” into their names, but the most commercial brands associated with it are Taiwan’s Yonghe Doujiang Dawang, and the newer but larger Yonghe Wang from China. Despite the legacy of the former, it’s the latter that has gone global ever since it was taken over by Filipino fast-food conglomerate, Jolibee. Naturally, a restaurant called “Yong He Eating House” was going to garner my attention.
Unfortunately though, as soon as the food and drinks arrived, we kinda knew that this was going to suck. And it did.
Okay, I’m probably overeacting. It was just “okay”, and literally, nothing to write home about. There were probably a gazillion spots across Singapore which sold better soy milk than this. What I really enjoyed about Yonghe Wang’s dou jiang and you tiao combination was the intense contrast of the two very different foods. The lightly crisp and silky saltiness of the you tiao was perfectly balanced by the thick, rich, creamy sweetness of the soy milk. At Yong He Eating House, the anticipation of the divergent schools of flavor coming together as one never came. Instead, the dou jiang was more diluted than a hawker centre’s stockpile of soy milk saturated in ice and water. Instead of enhancing the beverage, Darren’s warm version seemed intensely muted.
The braised pork rice just, existed, only as a means to fill my hungry stomach. Come on, man! Braised pork is such a idiot-proof dish, and still it ended up dry and lacking in seasoning.
Unlike others, I don’t give stars – I hate to rate restaurants in such a methodical manner. To me, eating is more than just whether the food’s good or whether the service is good. It’s a spiritual experience: it’s about the atmosphere, the feeling, and what it inspires. But, I’m gonna make an exception.
2 stars for being edible.
1 star for exploiting the “Yonghe” branding. As commercialized as Yonghe Wang is, the food was actually good.
0 stars for existing.
So, that’s a 0/5 stars for Yong He Eating House. And yes, I’m angry.