The Ordinary Patrons headed East to sample some local delights – Tau Kwa Pau from Katong, Rojak from Old Airport Road and desserts from a local bakery in a HDB block.
A seemingly incongruous start to the “East Sampling” was the rojak from the popular “Toa Payoh Rojak” stall. It is called “Toa Payoh Rojak” because Mr Cheng operated the stall for about 30 years in Toa Payoh before relocating to Old Airport Road Food Centre sometime in 2000. Thus, despite its name, the rojak store is now very much part of the foodscape in the East. It is so popular that the stall has a digital numbering counter so that you do not have to queue physically. You place your order, take a number and wait for your number to be flashed when your rojak is ready. Prices are $3 onwards.
The rojak, with thick prawn paste based sauce and generous sprinkling of grounded peanuts, was delicious. The traditional You Char Kway (dough fritters) was nicely toasted such that it was crispy but not hard. The simple touch of squeezing lime over the rojak gave a slight sourness to the sweet sauce, making the dish more interesting and delectable. The Toa Payoh Rojak is truly an enjoyable authentic traditional rojak.
The highlight of the sampling of local flavours was the Sheng Cheng Tau Kwa Pau (or Say Seng Tao Kwa Pau). Started in 1959, Sheng Cheng Tau Kwa Pau was operating in now defunct coffee shops at the East Coast-Joo Chiat junction. It moved to the Tanjong Katong Village Food Centre a few years ago.
Tau Kwa Pau ($1.50 each) is bean curd crisply fried and stuffed with a generous filling of chopped crispy fish cake, egg, cucumber and fried yam. Duck rice gravy and chilli sauce complete the dish. The mix of tastes and texture of the ingredients makes the simple snack item a really yummy one.
For sweets, we bought cakes from Maple & Market, a local bakery cafe located in a HDB block in Cassia Crescent (near Old Airport Road Food Centre). The cafe of baker Sarah Khaw is small but beautifully decorated with lovely details. Baking is done on the premises with fresh ingredients and in small batches. The cakes range from $3 to $5.50 per slice. They also conduct classes.
The Peranakan-inspired Gula Melaka Cake with Kaya Cream Cheese Frosting is a uniquely Singapore creation and tasted very good. The coconut shavings on top added an interesting flavour and texture to the cake. The signature Maple & Bacon – a Cinnamon cake with bacon cooked in maple syrup and walnuts, in between and on top – and the Root Beer Chocolate Cake were also delightful.
The offerings of local hawkers and home-grown bakery we have sampled were all delicious and enjoyable; and at a total cost per person that was perhaps less that the price of a soup in some restaurants. We are looking forward to trying out more local delights in various parts of our little island.
Toa Payoh Rojak
#01-108 Old Airport Road Food Centre
51 Old Airport Road
Sheng Cheng Tau Kwa Pau
Dunman Food Centre
271 Onan Road #01-05(basement),
Tel: 9068 5188
Maple & Market (Closed)
34 Cassia Crescent, #01-82,
Tel : 6348 8068
The Ordinary Patrons
Singapore Food Blog by Ordinary People looking for Places to Eat