Makansutra: Buns from a not-too-distant era
Traditional shop's baked items with old-school fillings are fresh and comforting
Long before the advent of "branded" bread, buns and sandwiches with fancy fillings such as imported ham, blue cheese and organic this and that, there was the "roti (bread) shop".
Folks of a not-too-distant era had relished buns stuffed with true local goodness.
Every filling spoke of who we were. Think buns with hae bee hiam (spicy dried shrimps sambal), orh nee (yam paste), peanut butter and sugar, curry potato and ham and cheese... You get the idea.
Sadly, this part of our rich makan history is heading for the history books. But there is a rare team of old food warriors soldiering on at Serangoon Garden Bakery & Confectionery.
hey start work at sunrise, baking some 17 types of buns. You can see the industrial-size mixers, ovens and proofing racks in their two humble hawker stalls.
Makansutra has ranked them in our food guides since the early 2000s, and we are not about to let them fade away.
The Prawn Sambal bun is a rare treat in today's context.
It came soft, sweetish, gummy and fluffy - how the heartland masses liked it then, and now too. It was spicy enough and had some texture and bite.
The Kaya Peanut bun was surprisingly good. Coated with crushed peanuts, it looked like a croissant gone wrong.
Lined with kaya, it had a strangely comforting texture. It had a crunchy crust with soft insides, and the kaya was not cloying. The chunky crushed peanuts were a delight too.
The bun with curry potatoes is served fresh and hot - if you time your visit well.
The potatoes were moist, with enough spiciness and firmness, and the fluffy bread completed the show.
There was a steady stream of regulars in the one hour I was at the shop. The crowd came and went fast, taking away up to 10 items at a go.
If you love kaya bread, you will fall for the Yam Paste buns.
The not-so-sweet and thick yam paste had a delightful tuber flavour. It is the one to go with your kopi-o siew dai.
I am not a fan of desiccated coconut in bread. I like it in kuEh dada or in desserts.
But the Coconut bread was nicely done with gula melaka and in generous amounts too.
Another favourite of mine was the Otah bun.
The sweetish bread went so well with the fat chunk of spicy otah.
At $1.20, that was the most expensive bun. The cheapest was the Custard bun (80 cents).
Of course I did not tear into all 17 items during that visit, but I will be back for more. I need to try the Hamburger, Tuna, Chicken Sausage and Cheese buns.
Serangoon Garden Bakery & Confectionery
49A, Serangoon Garden Way,#01-45-46, Serangoon Garden Market & Food Centre
6am to 3pm (or until sold out)
Closed on Mondays