The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 22 March 2013

Nonya cakes and dumplings @ Kim Choo Kueh Chang, Singapore

One of my fond childhood foodie memories when I growing up as a young girl in Malaysia is eating the delicious and colourful Nonya kueh - sweet snacks that come in the form of cakes, pudding and dumplings. There are so many varieties of Nonya kueh that it is quite possible that I haven't tried them all, and I always get confused about the names! As the culture, language, history and food of the Nonya-Baba (aka Peranakan) are integrations of the Chinese and Malays, many of the Nonya kueh are also native to the Chinese and Malay cultures. Basically, the Peranakans are descendants of early Chinese immigrants who settled in Malacca, Penang, Indonesia and Singapore, and they intermarried with the local Malays. My maternal grandma is a Nonya from Malacca, and when I was a little girl, I was told of the cool possibility that we may be descendants of Hang Li Po, a Chinese princess who was married to the Sultan of Malacca in the 15th century. Of course, it's also entirely possible that our ancestry could have humbler beginnings, tracing back to one of the handmaidens who intermarried the local Malays, but let's not shatter the fantasy. I digress. Singapore has its own Peranakan community within Katong, and here we paid a visit to Kim Choo Kueh Chang. I had intentions of only buying some snacks to taste, but I got a bit carried away in my excitement.

Kim Choo Kueh Chang shopfront, with colourful kueh, snacks and bak chang (savoury meat dumplings):

Beautiful assortments of sweet cakes and savoury snacks, and bottles of Nonya kaya (coconut egg jam) were also available for sale:

There were also chiffon cakes and chocolate muffin (top), various kueh sprinkled with dessicated coconut (middle), and ang ku kueh too (right):

Another of my childhood favourite food: bak chang - savoury glutinous rice dumplings with delicious savoury meat fillings. Other filling ingredients also added, depending on type. I got two different types, the Nonya Chang (minced pork, wintermelon cubes and Nonya spices, wrapped in pandan leaves) and the Salty Chang (five-spice-flavoured glutinous rice dumplings with pork, shiitake mushrooms and roasted chestnuts, wrapped in bamboo leaves):

One of the chang, unwrapped:

The glutinous rice dumplings were hefty, and only one would have proved too much for myself. Delicious stuff:

The packet of assorted kueh we bought, still wrapped up:

Kueh Lapis (layered cake) - I love peeling off each layer. This had a subtle overlying taste that didn't belong, and I couldn't figure out where it could have come from - perhaps it came from the food colouring? Hubby thought it tasted fine:

Kueh Dadar (pandan crepe stuffed with coconut and gula melaka) - we really enjoyed this one. :

The crepe was chewy and the coconut filling was moist and not too sweet:

This kueh was like Kueh Talam, but I think the guy said the yellow part was yellow mung beans. Another good choice:

The two bak chang we bought were good and substantial to be lunch material, and the kueh were mostly good. We especially liked the kueh dadar.

Kim Choo Kueh Chang
111 E Coast Rd,
Singapore 428801
Tel. +65 6741 2125

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