Dining

National Day spotlight on local foods: Best muah chee in Singapore

To celebrate the upcoming National Day, we decided to shine the spotlight on traditional foods. In this story, we tell you where to go for muah chee — the sticky, chewy and textural old-school glutinous snack
 

You won’t find the interwebs rife with lists of where to find Singapore’s best muah chee. In fact, this glutinous rice dough and crushed peanut snack is a rare sight. Delectable though it is, the arduous preparation techniques to cook it the “artisanal” way are a huge deterrent to its makers, and many hawkers find it unprofitable to dedicate whole stalls to selling just this dish. 

Still, for many Singaporeans, this is a dessert that reminds them of a childhood where you could buy these snacks from pushcart vendors, or on trips to the pasar malam.

Traditionally, glutinous rice dough pieces are rolled in sweetened, crushed peanut powder, and flavoured with fried shallot oil. Nowadays, you can even find versions flavoured with matcha and pistachio. Read on. Here we handpick a small list of the island’s best muah chee sellers; these include traditional hawkers, upscale restaurants and a even a couple of new-fangled versions.

1. Hougang 6 Miles Famous Muah Chee

Photo: Priyanka C. Agarwal

Arguably, this is the only hawker stall in Singapore that prepares muah chee the traditional way. Here, the freshly prepared glutinous rice flour is pinched by hand, dipped in a fried shallot oil mixture and rolled around in heaps of sugared peanut or black sesame sand. When eaten warm, the stretchy bites are chewy and soft. The discernable hint of umami provided by the shallots and oil adds pleasant contrast to the sugary, nutty powders. We prefer the black sesame flavour as its harder to find, and has a pleasant bitterness. Priced at $3.50 for a medium portion (that can easily be shared), you can opt for either one flavour, or have them mixed.

Where: 480 Toa Payoh North, #B1-01 HDB Hub Gourmet Paradise, Stall 21

2. Kim’s Satay

Kim’s Satay

Photo: Priyanka C. Agarwal

This satay stall at Old Airport Road Food Centre also serves muah chee. Even though it’s their side hustle, the muah chee is here is prepared to order. Scissor-cut lobes of dough are dunked in peanut sand, and further chopped into bite sized morsels that can be picked up by toothpick. The peanuts are chopped coarsely and the larger pieces add good texture overall. $2 per portion.

Where: 51 Old Airport Road, #01-06 Old Airport Road Food Centre

3. The Fruit Tea

The Fruit Tea

Photo: Priyanka C. Agarwal

On level 1 of People’s Park Centre in Chinatown is a nondescript stall, without even a stall number, that sells fruit-flavoured teas. The reason to visit this tea shop — located behind Ya Kun Kaya Toast — is that there’s a variety of snacks available like kueh, bao and even muah chee. Surprisingly, the muah chee here is rather good. The lady manning the stall pinched off dough pieces to order, and the peanut and sugar sand it was tossed in was finely textured. Additional peanuts were heaped into our tiny takeaway box. For $2 a box, it’s an affordable treat.

Where: People’s Park Centre, Level 1, 32 New Market Road, Singapore 050032

4. Jade Restaurant at The Fullerton Hotel

Jade Restaurant at The Fullerton Hotel

Photo: Jade Restaurant

The most upscale version of the humble muah chee can be found in the beautiful confines of The Fullerton Hotel’s Chinese Restaurant. Jade’s Chef Leong’s version is a fusion between muah chee, tang yuan and Japanese style mochi. French pistachios are lightly toasted (but never burnt) before being ground into a semi-fine texture with white sugar. This is stuffed into dough made with glutinous rice flour, cold water, peanut oil, sugar and beetroot (which gives the dough a delightful purple tinge). The dough is steamed to the desired elasticity, and the finished morsels are dusted with fine rice flour. It has the pillowy texture of mochi, but the textural contrasts of muah chee. We daresay that this is the perfect way to end a meal at Jade. The Pistachio Muah Chee is priced at $8 for two pieces.

Where: 1 Fullerton Square, Singapore 049178 (tel: 6733 8388)

5. Lime at PARKROYAL on Pickering

 

Photo: Lime

When indulging in an elaborate Sunday lunch buffet at Parkroyal on Pickering’s Lime, make sure to save room for dessert. Holding its own amidst other sweet treats — like mini Magnum ice creams, strawberry shortcakes and a matcha chocolate fountain — is the live muah chee station, which offers the treat in three flavours. Prepared a la minute, the chewy balls of glutinous rice flour come in traditional peanut and black sesame, or matcha. The matcha’s bitter-sweetness is a welcome change and this is a flavour that would appeal to younger diners. Chewy, and delicious, you can have unlimited helpings. Buffet prices begin at $82++ per adult.

Where: 3 Upper Pickering Street, Singapore 058289 (tel: 6809 8888)

5. Goldleaf Restaurant

Photo: Goldleaf Restaurant

This restaurant has been serving Chinese at Taiwanese classic dishes to patrons since 1971. Traditional, family-style recipes are its forte and are best enjoyed via the Taiwanese porridge buffet. A fitting end to the meal is the Miaoli Black-and-White Muah Chee (S$3.80) each serving comes with two types of muah chee, one topped with brown sugar from Taiwan’s Miaoli region, and another with a mix of black and white sesame powder that has been ground in-house to a textural, gritty finish.

Where: 86 East Coast Road #01-02, Katong Square

6. 想当年 Good Ol’ Days

Photo: Good Ol’ Days

These guys don’t have a permanent outlet, and instead are often spotted at pop-up events, food festivals and carnivals. Peddling their muah chee in three flavours — original (peanut), charcoal and matcha. This version is distinct for its larger pieces of crushed peanut, and even the flavoured versions have peanuts mixed in with the matcha and charcoal. Follow the official Facebook page to know of where they might pop up next. 

Where: Pop-up stall, changing locations