Let the Judging Begin

Fu Yu Kopi Shop - Tomato Kueh Tiaw

Fu Yu Kopi Shop - Tomato Kueh Tiaw

Last weekend I was given the honour of judging a culinary competition at a local mall. Thank you to the organizers (you know who you are) for this chance. I’ve never judged a cooking contest before and even though this wasn’t Iron Chef, I enjoyed it tremendously. I was given a few sheets of paper, one for each contestant, with the judging criteria on it. I was to mark each of them according to a few criteria which included creativity.

Picture of Bao Qing Tian

Me as the judge in the competition

Sadly this was the part that was missing the most from the competitors. Because each competitor was given the same ingredients for a salad or an open sandwich, they had to be very creative to get a dish that stood out from the rest. They had to find their purple cow. Unfortunately what they came up with was the same dish. Oh well. They are young. They still have time to learn to be creative.

Sometimes I do wonder if it is our school system that is stunting the growth of creativity in youngsters. After all, in school we are told not to do mistakes, to do things by the book, to memorize this passage or formula and to do all that is necessary to pass the exam. While this is ok for the skills and knowledge that the left side of our brain uses, it is definitely not the way to encourage the growth of our right brain creativity.

This is really a shame because thinking outside the box is definitely a skill worth learning no matter what profession we choose. Would we have the Bird Nest Stadium if the architect decided to conform to the standard of what a stadium should be? Would we have the works of arts of impressionist artist if they decided to conform to traditional standards of French Art at the time? Would I be able to even write this article if the engineers at Xerox PARC did not think outside the box? Would we Kuchingites be able to enjoy a plate of tomato kueh tiaw if not for a brave and creative chef that decided that it isn’t crazy to make a sauce from ketchup to put on fried kueh tiaw?

I actually have no idea who invented the tomato kueh tiaw. If any historians know the answer, I would love to hear from you guys. I would love to find out the story behind it. Maybe it was created out of necessity or maybe it was invented accidentally or maybe the chef was big on experimenting. How ever it came about, the dish is now part of the unique Kuching cuisine.

This leads me to today’s dish review on Fu Yu Kopi Shop’s tomato kueh tiaw. Fu Yu Kopi Shop is located in between Jalan Sekama and Jalan Lumba Kuda. It has been around for a long time and houses a few good stalls including an award winning laksa. But one of its biggest attractions is the stall selling various fried noodles with their famous deep fried fish.

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Their tomato kueh tiaw is quite good by itself. The sauce is not overly sweet or sour. The kueh tiaw is fried nicely and the prawns are nice and fresh. If I had to judge and this was all that they served, they would have still garnered a decent amount of points.

But they are more than that. Their uniqueness lies in the deep fried fish that they serve with all their dishes. I like how the nice crunchy texture of the fish complements the wet kueh tiaw in the beginning. As you eat, the fish does absorb the tomato-ey goodness of the sauce giving it another level of flavor.

This difference of theirs is probably the reason for their success. They are certainly not the best tomato kueh tiaw in Kuching but this unique selling point is enough to bring me and a lot of other patrons back to their stall. Don’t take my word for it, judge it for yourself!

P.s. Their fried cook noodle is also very nice. Served with fried fish as well.


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