Traditional, old-school pastries are still in style.
The fragrance of the pandan and grated coconut, the sweet taste of spices and the eye-popping colours… These are the trademarks of Singapore’s beloved Nyonya kuehs.
From sago kueh, to kueh lapis, ang ku kueh and ondeh ondeh, these traditional snacks are still classic favourites today. But getting good Nonya kuehs is not always an easy feat.
From old-school kueh shops to Michelin-starred eateries, we’ve rounded up 12 places you have to hit when the craving for a Nonya treat is coming on strong.
Open since 1988, Ji Xiang Confectionery is best known for its famous ang ku kueh (or red tortoise cake), which has a large cult following. It’s come a long way from its humble beginnings, where the owners would make just two flavours of ang ku kueh in the kitchen of their HDB flat. Now, it’s been featured in dramas like Channel 8’s The Successor, and on popular food blogs like TheLionRaw and ieatishootipost.
Where: 1 Everton Park, #01-33, 081001; open daily from 9am – 5pm. Visit their website here.
Head to this one-Michelin-star Peranakan restaurant for a swanky dinner in ambient surrounds, and finish off your meal with one of its decadent kueh desserts. Serving a highly seasonal menu of premium items, the absolute must-try is the kueh salat – paired with young coconut sorbet and sprinkled with coconut cookie crumbs. It may be a little dressed-up in modernity, but the flavours are lip-smackingly traditional. The caveat: It is only served along with the dinner set menu ($118++ per person), and only 20 servings are made per night. If you’re not having the set but want a taste of something sweet, look for the ala carte items like Mao Shan Wang Ice Cream, Durian Puree and Kueh Rose ($12 each).
Where: 17A Dempsey Rd, 249676; open Sundays through Thursdays from 12pm to 3pm and 6pm to 10pm, and at the same times on Fridays and Saturdays, with closing hours extended until 11pm.
Visit their website here.
Not a fan of old-timey flavours? Make a beeline for The Pantree, which serves Min Jiang Kueh (peanut pancake) with more than 15 types of unique fillings such as creamed corn, chicken floss and even luncheon meat. At only $2.50 to $5 per pancake, it’s highly affordable. Each item is also made to order, ensuring that everything is served hot, crispy and fresh.
Where: 5 Straits View, 018935; open Mondays to Fridays from 8am to 6pm. Visit their website here.
Durian lovers and those with a sweet tooth will adore Baba Chews, which on Fridays and Saturdays is open until midnight — meaning that if you’ve got a late-night hankering, this is where you need to be. The artisanal store specialises in pandan crepes stuffed with D24 durian mousse ($14). Enhanced by the taste of additional shredded coconut cooked in palm sugar, this sinful creation is topped with a scoop of gula melaka ice cream. This extremely modern take on kueh makes a perfect plate that appeals to the food Instagrammer in all of us.
Where: Katong Square at 86 East Coast Road, 428788; open Sundays through Thursdays from 6.30am to 11pm, at the same times on Fridays and Saturdays with extended closing hours until 12am. Visit their website here.
Breakfast and lunch sets here include 4 bite-sized unique kuehs and a hot drink ($5). Some of the options at the HarriAnns Nonya Table chain include: Rainbow Lapis, Kueh Salat, Gula Melaka Talum, Pink Fairy (coconut cream top, azuki beans bottom) as well as rainbow ondeh ondehs with different fillings. Pick from flavours like yam, black sesame, peanut, cheese and even chocolate. Prices are start at around $1.10 per piece.
Where: #01-01A Bugis Junction Towers at 230 Victoria Street, 188024; open Mondays to Sundays from 7am to 9pm; #B1-03/04 Ocean Financial Centre at 10 Collyer Quay, 049315; open Mondays to Fridays from 7am to 8pm. Visit their website here.
Plan to buy an entire kueh haul at this one-stop store, which offers a huge menu of the handmade treats. You’ll find favourites such as ang ku kueh, kueh lapis sagu, ondeh ondeh, gula melaka talum — all for $0.40 and up. The hard-to-find Teochew kuehs, gu chai kueh and peng kueh, here as well. The family business has been in operation since the 1960s, and is known for its superbly refined selection.
Where: #01-21 84 Bedok North Street 4, 460084; open Mondays to Saturdays from 6.30am to 6pm, and Sundays from 6.30am to 2pm. Visit their website here.
Chalk Farm’s kueh salat is a big hit, and in fact was hailed as the best in Singapore by Epicure Magazine in 2017. It’s pricey at $5.80 per piece, but it’s a big enough portion for two to share. While the regular menu of cakes features Mandarin Whiskey cake, Rum and Butterscotch and 24 Karat Brownies, Chalk Farm’s kueh offerings include Durian Salat and Kueh Lapis.
Where: #B1-K24 Paragon at 290 Orchard Road, 238859; open daily from 10am to 9pm, and B1-83M Parkway Parade at 80 Marine Parade Road, 449269; open daily from 11am to 9.30pm. Visit their website here.
With a staggering selection of 30 classic nonya kuehs, you’ll be able to find everything from sago lapis to chendol agar agar and durian salat (prices start at around $0.80 per piece). Food for thought: Peranakan patisserie uses agar agar made from seaweed and not animal products, making this an option for vegans and vegetarians.
Where: Found at various locations, from Changi Airport to China Square and myVillage. Visit their website for locations.
Primarily famed for their rice dumplings, Kim Choo — in business since 1945 — also sells a large variety of Nonya kuehs. This Joo Chiat shophouse establishment has a mouthwatering assortment of everything from kueh lapis and kueh salat, to beng kang ubi and kueh dadar (around $2.80 for a box of 4 pieces). You might also be tempted by the traditional Nonya rice dumplings ($2.50 and up).
Where: Head to Kim Choo’s boutique gallery at 60 Joo Chiat Pl, 427784; open daily from 9am to 9pm. For more locations, visit their website here.
Thirty years of honing their craft means that this hidden gem is one you shouldn’t miss. It was awarded the title of “Heritage Hero” by Slow Food SG, a nod to its commitment to traditional — and laborious — work. Try the yi buah, a kueh made from rice flour, wrapped in banana leaf and stuffed with shredded coconut, ground peanut, gula melaka, sesame seeds, ginger, and dried persimmons. It’s finger-licking good with a slightly spicy kick from the ginger, and you’d be hard-pressed to find it elsewhere.
Where: #01-35 22 Lor 7 Toa Payoh, 310019; open Tuesdays to Sundays from 7am to 1pm. Visit their website here.
By Zoe Zeng, July 2018 / Updated by Muneerah Bee, February 2019
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