Tony Johor Kaki Travels for Food · Heritage · Culture · Diplomacy

International Awards Winner · Singapore Malaysia Food Travel Blog 🇸🇬 johorkaki@gmail

Chuan Ji Bakery Hainanese Delicacies • Menu & Food Review • Flavours of Old Singapore Hainanese Favourites

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Chuan Ji is a little Hainanese cakes and food joint tucked away inside 
MacPherson Mall. Relatively low profile, Chuan Ji has its own loyal following who love their artisanal, traditional Hainanese cuisine and flavours.

Restaurant name: Chuan Ji Bakery Hainanese Delicacies 川 记


Address: 401 MacPherson Road, MacPherson Mall #01-17, 368125


Nearest MRT: Mattar station


Tel: 9835 3779


Hours: 12:00 noon - 6:00pm (Tues, Thurs, Sun off)



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The little bakery and eatery is in a corner at level 1 of MacPherson Mall.

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The quaint little bakery cum eatery filled up quickly once it opened for the day at 12 noon. Owner Chong Suan was a little short handed today as his partner called in sick and his mum was on her way to help out. The customers were all very understanding and waited patiently for their orders.

Chong Suan left his mechanical design engineer career to launch Chuan Ji in 2013 as he couldn't bear seeing the Hainanese legacies of his grandma and mother fade away. This eatery was set up with the single minded mission to preserve Singapore Hainanese flavours. 

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The menu is simple - traditional Hainanese staples, cakes and Malay kueh. The prices are very reasonable.

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We started with Hainanese kopi (coffee) while we waited for our orders to be served. I had a kopi O - truth be told, I wasn't expecting much (a lot of Nanyang kopi nowadays are thin, ashy and bitter).

But, I was delighted with Chuan Ji's kopi O - it was aromatic and nicely sweet bitter in a pleasant way. Its body was smooth and round or kau (unlike the watery and rough feel of typical kopitiam kopi nowadays). Yeah, must order a Hainanese kopi at Chuan Ji.

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The Hainanese beef stew came with rice and sambal (price $9.50).

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The chunks of beef were stewed till soft tender and moist. The meat was infused with mild sweet savouriness from the vegetable stew which left room for us to taste the meat's gentle beefiness. I love it.

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The sambal that came with the beef stew set was sharply spicy and a bit tangy. It really woke our taste buds to discern the delicately tuned sweet savoury beefy flavours of the beef.

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Come to Hainanese eatery must of course order their pork chop rice (price $8.50).

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The slab of lean pork was flattened and tenderised with a mallet and needless to say battered with crushed cream crackers (the Hainanese way). The pork chop was fried to a beautiful golden crisp outside) and slathered with a thick brown sauce.

The thin fried pork chop was tender inside while the outside delicately crisp. The pork chop tasted savoury in layers, outside a bit more and inside the meat was milder and had a subtle sweetness. The brown sauce and green peas added more layers of savoury flavours.

The lettuce salad was surprisingly crunchy, juicy and refreshing.

Chuan Ji also have Hainanese fried chicken chop which I shall try next time.

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After the mains, Chuan Ji's curry puff and fried soon kueh 😄

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This was my first time tasting a deep fried soon kueh. Not my first time tasting a thick sweet savoury sauce but I haven't had this old taste profile for longer than I can remember.

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The skin made of rice and tapioca flour was fried to a golden brown crisp. Inside, it was layers of savoury sweetness from stewed bamboo shoot and jicama with dried shrimp for umami flavour. Perfect with the savoury sweet sauce.

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Pardon the messiness 😂

Chuan Ji's curry puff has thin crisp flaky skin which is nice but the memorable thing was the taste profile of the curried potatoes. The mildly spicy sweet savoury taste profile was familiar and something I have not tasted for a very long time (harking back to my school tuck shop days eons ago).

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Seeing everyone around us having Chuan Ji's kueh koh sui and taking away multiple packs, they must know something we don't 🤔

Only one way to find out.

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I was quite blown away.

Chuan Ji's kueh koh sui is made with a blend of rice and tapioca flour. The steamed soft cake is flavoured with pandan and gula Melaka. Grated coconut pulp and a bit of salt added more sweetness and tinct of salty balance. There was also a subtle rice sweetness.

Really flavourful and fragrant. The best thing was the texture of the kueh - Chuan Ji got the golden ratio of rice and tapioca flour spot on.

Chuan Ji also have ondeh ondeh but we just have no more tummy space.

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Come to Chuan Ji must order their signature Hainanese Flaky Biscuit.

It's an old recipe created in the 1920s by the grandma of third generation boss Chong Suan. Chong Suan's grandma ran a bakery named Nam Tong Lee 南同利 at Purvis Street (Hainanese enclave of old Singapore). She made this biscuit known as Su Yan Bing 酥盐饼 only once a year during Mid Autumn festival, hence it was considered the Hainanese mooncake. Today, this biscuit is available at Chuan Ji all year round but cannot be found in Hainan, China any more.

The Hainanese biscuits baked in-house has light, flaky, buttery skin filled with a blend of 13 ingredients. There's tangerine peel, fried shallot, melon seed, sesame seed, spring onion, pepper, Chinese five spice, etc. In the mouth, it's an interesting complex mix of savoury, sweet flavours with a subtle peppery aftertaste.

The Hainanese is the smallest Chinese community in Singapore and they were the last Sinkeh to arrive here beginning in the 1880s. But, Hainanese influence on Singapore food culture is well beyond their numbers. Read about Hainanese influence on Singapore food culture 👈 click


       
                     
             
             
               
               
             
           
           
           
                                                                                                                                                                         
           
             
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            A post shared by Tony Boey Johor Kaki (@johorkaki)          

       
     
         
  
Written by Tony Boey on 20 Oct 2021

2 comments:

  1. Hi Tony, did I see the photo correctly - a box of 6 of the Hainanese flaky biscuits costs $28?

    ReplyDelete

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