Tapow Tdot

This is the man behind Toronto's hottest new hidden restaurant

One of the city's newest and hottest food pop-ups is doing one thing very well — serving a tasty Malaysian dish out of an unsuspected location.

Chef Vei Chong is a man of many talents — aside from running one of the city's most buzzed-over weekly food pop-ups, Tapow Toronto, he's a filmmaker and artist, having worked in the film industry for nearly the past decade.

Born in Malaysia but having grown up in Toronto, Vei has trained and worked at a number of restaurants during his culinary career spanning the past 11 years  — training at street food and fine dining institutions in Singapore and Malaysia and working in Montreal and Toronto.

He currently maintains a day job working as a line cook in a long-term care home in order to fund his passion project — his pop-up, Tapow T0r0nto that takes over Dipped Donuts' Kensington storefront each Thursday serving nothing but Malaysian Hokkien Mee.

"Hokkien Mee originated in Malaysia from the descendants of Fujian Chinese migrants that felt homesick," Vei tells blogTO, adding that he trained with descendants of the dish's originator in Malaysia, learning and perfecting his recipe.

While various versions of the dish can be found, Vei's favourite rendition includes a "combination of thick rice noodles and thin vermicelli in a sweet and savoury caramel dark soy sauce."

As for the rendition Vei is serving out of his top-secret (well, not anymore,) pop-up space, he includes "cabbage, pork and shrimp, with crispy pork fat on top," which he says is "closest to the original."

After running the pop-up for the past five weeks, word has been slowly growing about the droolworthy Malaysian dish, with more and more patrons showing up each week, though, Vei admits, the adventure hasn't been without its ups and downs.

"Being a takeout restaurant, it is quite dependent on weather conditions for a good business day," he tells blogTO, but, he adds that he's "just started receiving repeat customers."

As far as what the future holds for the pop-up, Vei tells blogTO that his sole focus, for the time being is "delivering the best quality of Hokkien Mee," but he also plans on exploring offering a vegetarian version of the dish and seasonal hot sauce.

In terms of opening a restaurant of his own, Vei tells blogTO that he's happy working in partnership with Dipped, though he is looking into adding a single seat for customers at the pop-up, so "the dream is closer than you think!"

In any event, Vei is just happy to be able to do what he loves, which is serve good food to a city that loves to try new cuisine and dishes — dishes like Hokkien Mee.

"Every day that I do stay open is more enjoyable than the last, and every day that I get to serve the cuisine I want to is a blessing," he tells blogTO.

You can visit Vei and Tapow Toronto every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. out of Dipped Donuts, located at 161 Baldwin Street, to try Hokkien Mee for yourself.

Lead photo by

Vei Chong

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