SINGAPORE - Mr Chung Ah Lay, the third person in Singapore to die of complications from Covid-19 on March 29, is remembered fondly by foodies as the owner of OK Yong Tau Foo in Mosque Street.
Makansutra founder KF Seetoh, wrote a tribute to Mr Chung on Facebook on Sunday and reminisced about what he called the "Rolls Royce of yong tau foo".
OK Yong Tau Foo closed down in 2009 and Mr Chung, 70, was working at Japanese restaurant Fish Mart Sakuraya before he was admitted to Singapore General Hospital at the beginning of the month.
But for foodies such as Mr Steven Yeong, 68, the former hawker has left an indelible mark with his handmade yong tau foo, comprising pieces of beancurd and vegetables stuffed with minced pork.
"It tasted very different from what is available today," the owner of the Riverinn chain of restaurants said. "It had an authentic taste that brought back memories of my childhood living in Nanking Street in Chinatown."
Food doyenne Violet Oon, 70, called it one of the "originals". She remembered it was the soup and the filling of the yong tau foo that made it special.
"He had the reputation of making the best yong tau foo in Singapore," she said.
"In those days when moving around was not so easy without the MRT, we used to make 'pilgrimages' by car, taxi and buses to stalls like these from as far away as Katong, Sembawang and Bukit Timah."
Seetoh said he had been going to the stall since the 1970s when he was a child. It was then located in a coffee shop in Mosque Street near the New Bridge Road junction, but moved a few doors down the street in 2002.
Before the move, the stall was very popular and customers had to wait a long time for their food during peak hours. But business was less good in its last few years.
It was also known to be expensive. Just seven items, enough to satisfy an average appetite, could cost more than $10.
The stall boasted a wide variety of items, including jelly fish and stuffed Chinese mushroom wrapped in caul.
"Everything was handmade," Seetoh said. "The pieces were chunky and salted fish was added to the minced meat."
He remembered when he interviewed Mr Chung in 2006 that the latter had a sense of pride that would not allow him to compromise on the quality.
Seetoh said: "The fishballs were made from scratch using yellowtail fish; the bones would be roasted and used to make the soup.
"And customers really enjoyed it because they recognised the quality."