Makansutra: Heritage Corner is yummy new kid on the Nonya block
Folks behind Heritage Corner came together out of true makan passion and camaraderie
There are many places offering this cuisine, but you can count on one hand just how few authentic Nonya hawkers there are in Singapore.
They include Charlie's Peranakan Food, Rumah Baba Fred, Babas Peranakan and now, the new kid on the block to watch, Heritage Corner.
Those behind this stall at Chang Cheng Food Court in Tampines are a group of oldies and goodies who decided to hawk what they did best in their private kitchens all these years.
It is led by closet chef and acclaimed musician Stephen Francis and his wife Emily, former art and creative director Richard Tan, entrepreneur Evelyn Lim and private kitchen chef Susan Tan.
You can tell they came together in the name of true makan passion and camaraderie.
I have had the pleasure of wolfing down at their private dinners, and now, they have decided to offer it to everyone.
On any given day, there are at least five people in the team, each managing a certain speciality.
The mee rebus was sold out when I was there at 11am, but there was the dry mee siam kering ($5.80). They are not stingy with the rempah used to fry the mee siam beehoon. It is flavourful on its own, and if you stir the sambal in, it becomes a party in the mouth.
Ms Susan Tan handles the Nonya fare and whips up the rempah and all the sauce base fresh, in the kitchen and on the fly.
The chap chye ($2.50) is not like the Chinese version but redolent with prawn stock infused into the greens.
The ayam buah keluak ($4), without pork or lard, is done sambal buah keluak-style (the black nut paste is fried with sambal and simmered with chicken). The balance is rich and nails the target with just the right sensation of sourness and sweet with earthy and spicy tones.
The rare item is the ikan pari kuah lada ($4.50), which is stingray done with a peppery and sourish rempah base.
I had not come across this item on hawker menus, even restaurant ones, as most say it is too homely a dish.
I would have given this full marks if not for the Heritage Corner guys attempting to please uninitiated customers who feel it is too peppery. I mean, there is a reason why they call it kuah lada (pepper curry).
So Ms Susan Tan promises to stick to her grandma's makan roots from here on.
Heritage Corner also has a unique otak jantan ($2), which comes with the otak sitting in a little pool of lemak coconutty curry sauce.
A slice of that with some of the curry over soft basmati blue pea flower rice and you will know why I say Heritage Corner is the one to watch.
Its range of Nonya kueh is astounding too.
Mr Tan, a Baba, handmakes 70 per cent of them, comprising bite-sized lemak and less sweet nibbles such as onde onde, rainbow and regular pandan lapis and ang ku kueh ($3.80 a box of two to four pieces).
If all these Nonya terms sound complicated to you, tuck into "homeland favourites" such as Stephen's moist and moreish char kway teow ($5.80) and the Nonya laksa ($5.80) done with a rich rempah with no bean sprouts and cockles - just like how the Nonya people originally intended it to be, here and in Malacca - as well as the crab meat fried rice ($8.80).
And yes, the prices are reasonable.
866A Tampines Street 83
Chang Cheng Food Court
Tampines Central Community Complex
Opens 8.30am to 8pm daily