Halal menu to make you holla
This is a good idea on many fronts. It has baffled me for the longest time why there has not been a serious attempt to make our beloved national toast and kaya breakfast spots officially halal.
Enter Mr Benny Se Teo, who has come up with a halal kopitiam that offers clever tweaks that cater to all, not just Muslims.
After the success of his halal Eighteen Chefs cafe chain, Mr Se Teo saw the potential for such an eatery two years back.
So earlier this week, Seng Kee The Black Seed served its first meal.
ORIGINAL: (Top) Roast duck sandwich with arugula. (Above) Mr Benny Se Teo cooling off with pandan iced tea.
"We are already planning to open three more this year, in the east and in Orchard," says Mr Se Teo, adding that they reach out to recruit workers in housing estates and on social media.
Up to a dozen more outlets are planned.
Mr Se Teo says: "You won't really make money with just one or two outlets if you plan for the kind of expansion plans we have in mind."
It helps that this ex-con entrepreneur chef knows the art of treating staff and customers.
So watch out for him.
Glance at the menu and you'll spot some innovative items apart from the usual kopi, teh, kaya toast and half boiled eggs.
The pandan iced tea ($3.80) was refreshing. You can taste the sweet aroma of the leaves. Not much sugar, if at all, was needed.
Then there was the chicken rice sandwich ($7.80), which swaps the rice with an airy and crispy focaccia bread. The sandwich portions are huge and can fill two tummies.
While the sandwich was a comforting dish, I felt something was missing. I think a dash of Colman's mustard would have done the trick.
I also like the roast duck sandwich ($7.80), done with a splash of hoisin-like sauce and covered with a bed of arugula, also known as rocket.
The bits of fat inject just enough gaminess. Duck is something not commonly found in Muslim fare here but I am sure this will work.
Again, I think a dollop of sambal in this sandwich (and you can ask for it separately) will give it a nice kick.
The beef rendang bread bowl ($7.80) was moist and rich - as it should be. It sat in a bread bowl that absorbed all the goodness of the rempah.
I like their chee cheong fun with sambal cuttlefish ($7.80). I could not stop eating it. The sambal belachan that came with it was so intense, it should be banned.
The only thing that held me back was the cuttlefish - if they had only soaked it till it was a little softer. I would be on my knees for this one.
And I have to go back for the devil's curry bread bowl.
KF Seetoh, the founder of Makansutra, dabbles in street food businesses like Food Markets, his own TV shows on cable, publishing food guides, consultancy and online content. He is also the creator of the World Street Food Congress. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Seng Kee The Black Seed
#01-71/72, Bugis Junction, 80, Middle Road
7.30am to 10.30pm daily