The ultimate Singapore breakfast is still local food. Scrambled truffle-flecked eggs with a side serving of caviar or eggs benedict washed down with a nice flute of breakfast champagne are all nice and good, decadent and befitting of chi-chi foodies – genuine or wannabe’s. But if the morning broke and it was going to herald my last meal – a perfect measure of genuine preferences and honesty in the face of absolute finality – I’ll be heading to the hawker centre for my chee cheong fun, chwee kueh, chai tow kway and the like, plus a couple of kick-ass hardcore kopitiam coffee with so much caffeine it’ll wake even the dead (pun intended.. and which means I may well be saved from the occasion being my last meal). Now, I’m no hawker centre expert and can’t recommend the best stalls – this has never been my beat in food journalism – but I can tell you which ones I enjoy. For my chee cheong fun fix, I like popping over to Anson Chee Cheong Fun (324 Changi Rd, Singapore 419799), which offers one of the most extensive choice of chee cheong fun options that I can think of.
A word on the side here. For those who aren’t familiar with this traditional southern Chinese street food, chee cheong fun is flat sheets of rice flour noodles which have been steamed. It’s generally eaten hot with nothing more than sesame seeds, a sprinkling of oil and chilli sauce or sweet sauce for breakfast. At dim sum restaurants though, you’ll find it made upmarket and served with prawns or char siew enveloped in the folds of the rice flour sheets.
The Anson Special is my go-to brekkie option at Anson Chee Cheong Fun. The chee cheong fun is flecked generously with chai poh embedded into the noodle itself. That means the chai poh has been worked into the chee cheong fun batter even before it is cooked, from the earliest stages of making the noodle. It’s served, cut into rather small slivers, with a sprinkling of spring onions, sesame seeds and a side spoonful of green chilli. If I’m not mistaken, there’s also bits of minced pork in the folds of the cheong fun too. It’s a tad greasy, but it’s really enjoyable, eaten with a cold glass of homemade soy bean milk – nice and beany, cold and quite light. Not the best I’ve tried, but for convenience, it’s quite acceptable.
I tried the yam cake, but didn’t think much of it, with its grainy, coarse texture which I didn’t appreciate. What I did like though, beyond Anson Chee Cheong Fun’s ‘zao pai’ (signature) dish is the soy beancurd sold in tubs and lined up in the chiller by the entrance. It’s the modern version of beancurd with the sugar already worked into the curd, rather than the old fashioned style with the sugar syrup ladled over. Theirs is light in texture but it’s flavour is suitably intense. Eat it on its own, and work it into a home made dessert like adding it to chin chow, and longan, and other old fashioned yummies. I tried the plain and almond flavoured ones, but can’t quite make myself go for the blueberry, pandan and durian versions. Perhaps I’m a purist but it strikes me as sacrilegious to include such ‘additives’. Not necessary and I’m not compelled to try it to be honest.
Lastly their home made tau sar peah is worth buying a dozen home for tea time snacking. Its outer crust is thinly layered, light and crumbly, and its green pea filling is not as sweet as the others you often find. The filling is also nice and light, but packed quite firmly so it doesn’t disintegrate so easily. I have a weakness for tau sar peah and this is a rather more elegant rendition of the traditional favourite.