HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!! I have a celebratory post coming up soon but thought that a little local hawker fare needed to be injected into this space.
In the mean time, I hope you enjoy the post and that the Year of the Horse brings happiness, health, success and wealth in all aspects of life to you all!
Each trip to Singapore holds minimal ‘clean eats’ but maximal taste and enjoyment. Rojak is my attempt at incorporating a salad type meal into my day….but who am I kidding? It tastes too good to be true.
In regards to the ‘technicalities’ of this hawker dish, Singaporeans gravitate towards the ‘Chinese-style’ Fruit Rojak, which traditionally consists of:
• Bengkoang (turnip)
• Taupok (a puffy and deep-fried tofu)
• You Tiao (Asian dough-fritters)
• Chopped nuts
• Dressing – haeko (shrimp paste), sugar, chilli and lime juice
Some places like to include more unique additions:
• Raw mango
• Green apple
• Century Egg
All the ingredients are tossed together in the dressing, which is hopefully plentiful until the flavours of the dressing are absorbed into the more ‘neutral’ tasting dry components.
This trip, I have undertaken the tough task of deciding upon the (subjectively) Best Rojak in Singapore, so I visited three Rojak stalls which were either recommended to me or which I had discovered on previous trips.
Soon Heng Rojak
Location: Gourmet Paradise Food Court, 480 Toa Payoh Lorong 6, #B1-23, HDB Hub Toa Payoh
Operation Hours: 11:00am to 8:00pm daily (Closed once a month)
At peak hour, the line for this stall is quite spectacular. So much so that the food court has implemented an ‘airport-type’ queue barrier.
In terms of price, this Rojak can not be faulted. The ingredients are fresh and what’s more, the sauce and peanuts are more than plentiful. This is a highly organised operation with one staff having complete responsibility over the toasting and cutting of You Tiao.
Unique additions: Cuttlefish
Location: 261 Serangoon Central Drive, Serangoon, 550261
Opening Hours: 7:00am to 8:00pm, daily (or depending on the mood of the ‘Uncle’ hehe)
<forgot to snap a photo…shame on me!!>
Recommended by my auntie, we ‘tah pawed’ (take-away) a box home for dinner and put this relatively ‘unknown’ stall to the test. Absent was the line of hungry customers, however the caricature-like sometimes ‘grumpy’ but funny uncle selling his Rojak reassured me that this stall was true-blue local hawker.
There was slightly to little dressing for my liking and Mumma and I both found the You Tiao a little dry…on that note, a good You Tiao is essential for a good Rojak in the eyes of my family hehe. This was slightly different from the usual Rojak with extra acidity from the green apple, which I quite liked…the more greens the better.
Unique additions: Green Apple
Balestier Road Hoover Rojak
Hoover Rojak is what the locals like to describe as ‘Shiok!’
My family has been visiting this stall for about 6 years now. I am quite sure that any Singaporean that you speak to about Rojak will drop the name of this stall and rightly so; not only is there abundant history behind this stall but the quality of ingredients is “the best” according to the jovial Uncle behind the counter. Like Soon Heng Rojak, the lines for Hoover Rojak are long, but are slightly less orderly.
Mumma’s theory is that there is a special way of tossing the Rojak to achieve the perfectly ‘soaked’ ingredients. The ‘You Tiao’ was moist and although it may not be for individuals foreign to the idea of a black egg, the added Century Egg makes the perfect addition to the concoction! In addition, the Uncle who started this stall prides his product on its incredibly fresh ingredients…over the Chinese New Year period he takes a break simply because suppliers do not have the best and freshest ingredients in stock! No wonder why this stall has stood the test of time!
Unique additions: Century Egg, Jellyfish
• This is the third dwelling of this stall
• In the early days of the ‘push-cart’ stall, the Rojak was sold at the bargain price of 10 cents a portion!!
• The Uncle in charge (now in his late 60s) is passing on the trade secrets to his children
• The Rojak at this stall is consumed by my numerous generations – from the stall’s first customers to their children and grandchildren!! What a legacy this stall has built over the years!!
If you are on a tight eating schedule in Singapore and eager to try out the local Rojak, I would rate Balestier Hoover Rojak as the ‘must-try’ and best stall to visit, especially since it is located at Whampoa Makan Place which has a vast array of other renowned stalls (post coming soon!). Of course this is all subject to personal taste and I am eager to hear from anyone who has more suggestions!
Albeit the sinful ‘You Tiao’ and abundant peanuts are stars of the dish, I like to think the vegetables and fruit balance out the cholesterol killers…but I don’t think anything will stop Rojak from being one of my favourite ‘go-to’ hawker fares.