Photo: candlenutsg / Instagram
The fragrance of 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.
1. Peranakan Khek
Run by chef-owner Sharon Low, this artisanal kueh store is serious about the quality of its kuehs. Expect kuehs to be made with premium gula melaka from Malacca and freshly-squeezed coconut milk. Seven types of kuehs, including kueh bingka ubi, ang ku kueh, kueh salat and kueh dadar are all on the menu for around $2 to $2.50 per piece. All kuehs require a pre-order of at least three days, so make sure you put in yours in time.
Where: 11 Cavan Road, #01-03; open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 11am–6pm, Sundays and public holidays from 11am–5pm (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays).
2. Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry Bakery
Specialising in traditional, old-school pastries, this store has been around since the 1970s, and is now run by fourth-generation kueh-makers. It takes pride in traditional methods of preparation, and offers a large variety of old school kuehs and Chinese cookies — all year round. Perfect for the budget snacker, the kuehs start at just $0.70 per piece. You’ll want to try their famous kueh dadar and putu ayu, both prepared using traditional methods.
Where: 55 Tiong Bahru Road, #01-39; open daily from 6.30am–9.30pm.
3. Ji Xiang Confectionery
Open since 1988, Ji Xiang Confectionery is best known for its famous ang ku kueh, which has a large cult following. It has 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 features in dramas like Channel 8’s The Successor, and on popular food blogs like TheLionRaw and ieatishootipost.
Where: 1 Everton Park, #01-33; open daily from 9am – 5pm.
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, 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.
5. The Pantree
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, open Mondays to Fridays from 8am to 6pm.
6. Baba Chews
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, open Sundays through Thursdays from 6.30am to 11pm, at the same times on Fridays and Saturdays with extended closing hours until 12am.
7. HarriAnns Nonya Table
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 start at around $1.10 per piece.
Where: #01-01A Bugis Junction Towers at 230 Victoria Street, open Mondays to Sundays from 7am to 9pm; #B1-03/04 Ocean Financial Centre at 10 Collyer Quay, open Mondays to Fridays from 7am to 8pm.
8. Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery (Traditional)
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. Get 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, Open Mondays to Saturdays from 6.30am to 6pm, and Sundays from 6.30am to 2pm.
9. Chalk Farm
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 is 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, open daily from 10am to 9pm; and B1-83M Parkway Parade at 80 Marine Parade Road, open daily from 11am to 9.30pm.
10. Chinta Manis
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: this 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.
11. Kim Choo Kueh Chang
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, open daily from 9am to 9pm.
12. Hainan Xiao Chi
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, open Tuesdays to Sundays from 7am to 1pm.