There are 3 kinds of street-style fried radish cake 抄菜头粿 in Singapore: the “black” version, “white” version, and not so commonly, the eggy pancake type.
In the modestly-sized Bukit Timah Food Centre, there are two food stalls – Seng Kee Carrot Cake (#02-182) and He Zhong 合眾菜頭粿 (#02-185) – selling fried radish cake, and both do it the same style. Now, I don’t understand this business logic. Why sell the same product as your competitor located just three units away?
Unable to come up with an intelligent answer to this profound question, there was another issue I had to stress over: Which stall’s chai tow kway should I have for breakfast?
Oh, what the heck, let’s order both and compare! Here are the final entries from the two worthy contenders.
First impressions: Seng Kee’s chai tow kway (CTK) smelled tantalizing, and certainly looked very appealing. The CTK has a beautiful golden brown crust that’s light and crispy to the bite. I suspect there’s some flour batter in addition to beaten egg for that kind of result.
He Zhong’s CTK emitted a drool-inducing aroma as well! This is very much like an omelette. There was definitely more egg than Seng Kee’s. Amazingly, the egg batter is evenly distributed and evenly cooked, testament to the chef’s skill. No rubbery exterior and runny insides, unlike some lesser versions I’ve tried.
Ok, let’s rate them on the following criteria:
1. Frying skill: It’s a TIE. Both are very good, though different in style. I also liked that both are relatively grease-free.
2. The kway 粿 (steamed radish cake): He Zhong wins, but only by a tiny margin. Actually, the kway from both stalls is disappointingly similar, like those supplied wholesale from factory. There’s no radish taste, and is a bit too stiff for my liking. But He Zhong’s kway feels a wee bit smoother and less lumpy.
3. Chai poh 菜脯 (salted radish): He Zhong wins, hands down. Sweetish bits of crunchy chai poh were present in every bite! For Seng Kee’s CTK, there was hardly any chai poh.
Ok, so the winner (based on my own personal taste) is He Zhong. Actually, I liked Seng Kee’s crispier crust a lot, but overall, He Zhong’s version is more shiok (local slang for “satisfying”)!
That said, this “omelette” type of CTK is not my favorite. My default choice is the “black” version. I prefer my CTK to have more kway than egg, and also, I’m a sucker for sweet, sticky black sauce. 😀
Bukit Timah Market & Food Centre
116 Upper Bukit Timah Road