I’m not a big fan of tau sar pneah although Nic is. He loves them to bits and can eat a few at one go, especially if they’re going with brewed coffee.
Soh Peng’s little adventure with finding tau sar pneah the last time she visited was enlightening, especially for me. I was a little intrigued about the best tau sar pneah in town, or at least the best type you could cart home to friends and family.
Anyway, Nic actually liked Chuan Hoe brand of tau sar pneah. This brand was recommended by the lady at a stall in Chowrasta market. He said it was moist and redolent of fried onions. Sometimes the no-brand stuff can be rather lovely.
But he also liked Ah Leong’s freshly baked tau sar pneah too. Ah Leong is a little nickname we gave to this nondescript, hidden gem of a biscuit maker located behind De Tai Tong dim sum restaurant on Cintra Street. Ah Leong is actually Leong Chee Kei – the name of this tiny biscuit shop on the ground floor of the very Hong Kong-style, 1970s People’s Flats.
Leong Chee Kei (not sure if that’s his name or the name of the shop but hey, it does not matter) sells freshly baked traditional style cakes and biscuits. It opens every day from 10am to 6pm (except Sunday because the baker does need a rest).
I was introduced to this pastry shop by Jo, a Singaporean no less, one day after we’d had a filling lunch at De Tai Tong. She said she wanted to show me a superb little shop behind this dim sum place.
Leong Chee Kei is famous for their freshly baked coconut tarts which tend to sell out fast.
Their pepper biscuits are also crunchy and famous (come to think of it, which biscuit is not famous in this shop?) and so are their traditional style egg cakes – you know, the soft and spongy cake in the 80s before we all got caught up in crepe de mille or cheesecake or macarons. (You can read more and salivate over this quirky Chinese bakery goodies over at CK Lam’s blog.)
They sell all sorts of traditional biscuits so the best time to come is in the morning, 10-ish or so when the baked goods are just cooling off under their furious fans, ready to be packed and bought by tourists. Yes, tourists have also discovered that the best stuff is just plain un-branded and needs a bit of a curious nose to find. Oh and they do quite a good walnut cookie (“hup tow soh”) too – the size of a large American cookie but tastes very crumbly and rich.
Despite being famous, this shop has retained local prices (at least they seem quite local to me).
This shop sells pretty good tau sar pneah and possibly good enough to rival the big boys. In fact if you ask me, theirs could be lots better ‘coz it’s handmade, made the day or even the day before (it’s not sitting in some shop for yonks) and you’re supporting one of the few local bakeries – possibly the last of its kind because I doubt the owner’s kids will be doing this manual biscuit baking any time soon.
Which reminded me of another food-nostalgia-reflection story of a Ban Chang Kuih seller we spoke to at one of the street corners near Cintra Street. It’s the story of how there is no wrong or right, but of how circumstances change.
And that is another story for another day. Do remind me.