To-die-for tau fu fah, anyone?

At ‘BiuGo Taufu Fah’ they serve a huge family bowl to be shared.

A local delight, the ‘tau fu fah’ has its place in most Asians’ heart. The jiggly, sweet goodness is a traditional dessert. However, with modernity seeping into the delicacy, ‘tau fu fah’ of today is seen topped with balls and pearls. At BiuGo Taufu Fah, there is even a matcha-topped ‘tau fu fah’.

A modern twist on a traditional dish

Soft, smooth and silky — these are the words to describe a perfect bowl of ‘tau fu fah’, or in English beancurd pudding. A traditional delicacy from China, ‘tau fu fah’ has seen a spread during the migration period in the early 20th century.

Ong posing with his ‘BiuGo Taufu Fah’ animated logo of himself.

Both the Mainland Chinese and Malaysians enjoy the dessert, added with sugar. Though there are also variations among the Chinese who enjoy it with chilli oil or salted soup. But in Malaysia, beancurd pudding is often enjoyed just on its own, with sugar or gula apong syrup. The modern version sees ‘tau fu fah’ topped with sweet potato balls, taro balls, or herbal jelly (guilinggao). But the variation does not stop there.

Locally owned ‘BiuGo Taufu Fah’ puts in a twist on their ‘tau fu fah’ menu with rarely seen flavours. Aside from topping his beancurd pudding with purple rice, and pearls, Alaric Ong throughout his endeavour had thought of several flavours to add above his pudding.

“We have ‘tau fu fah’ topped with Osmanthus flowers, which is beautiful and nice to look at. The flowers enhance the taste of the ‘tau fu fah’. Then we also have matcha flavoured beancurd because I love matcha in general,” he said.

According to him, matcha topped with beancurd on its own is already mouth-watering. However, adding matcha and purple rice as toppings is a different, more extraordinary type of gastronomical adventure. Eating it cold, ‘BiuGo Taufu Fah’ would leave the matcha cold, but ensure the purple rice is warm. The beancurd pudding is fusion of cold and warm, hence a delight.

Another rarely seen flavour on top of ‘tau fu fah’ is Biugo’s ginger sauce. Usually served warm, Ong said the combination is good for post-partum mothers who are undergoing their confinement. Having had a sip, the ginger sauce was authentic and original. It was able to warm the body, the whole merge was interesting and a must-try, especially during cold days.

Memories from childhood

Like most Sarawakians — the 42-year-old Ong grew up having tasted the traditional delight. “I love ‘tau fu fah’ so much. It reminds me of my grandmother. She used to buy ‘tau fu fah’ packed in plastic bags for me. Then we would pour it in a bowl and eat it.”

According to him, ‘tau fu fah’ was not always packed in plastic containers. “If you don’t remember it being packed inside the plastic bag, you might be too young. Nobody does that anymore,” he added.

With the fond memory, the entrepreneur hopes to bring back the traditional dessert, but with a twist of his own — the unique flavours that represent the characteristics of his brand.

Before he delved into this industry, Ong revealed his passion for business. “When I was in my 20s, I was already doing business in the construction industry. But in my mind, I always had the interest to open up a dessert stall.”

‘Biugo Taufu Fah’

Realising his dream in 2016, Ong dipped his toes into selling his favourite dessert, ‘tau fu fah’. “The beginning of my dessert journey started at the Mooncake Festival Bazaar at Carpenter Street, Kuching. I opened up a stall and the response was good.”

Seeing the positive feedback, Ong was motivated to continue his dessert stall. However, he was met with obstacles. “I decided to open a stall at an open air eatery at Jalan Kempas. I set up a table and covered it with a table cloth. It was a very simple kiosk. But, in the first month, I did not have any buyers.”

Not one to give up, the following month, Ong said he improved the outlook of the kiosk to attract more customers. “I also promoted my dessert on social media. It was then, that I learned how important social media is as only then, does business pour in.”

Formerly known as ‘Whak Whak’, Ong rebranded his dessert brand to ‘Biugo’ which directly translates to ‘elder cousin brother’, a fond calling in the Mandarin language. The name represented how as an elder brother, he was able to provide the traditional delicacy to the younger generation.

Asked about his patrons’ favourites, Ong said ‘tau fu fah’ with toppings is often what the younger generation would order. Whereas, the older ones would skip it. “But to me, a good bowl should be eaten warm because of the texture. When you enjoy it warm, the texture is smooth. Meanwhile, a cold texture is harder and not as smooth.”

Opened inside of Go Fun Kee Jalan Rock 2 1/2 and Go Fun Kee Jalan Song, ‘Biugo’ will see a future opening in Miri, alongside Go Fun Kee as well.

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