From lipstick-red ang ku kueh to kueh salat (pandan custard glutinous rice cake) in blue-green contrast, traditional local desserts have always tantalised us with their rainbow colours. And now, they are appearing in swankier environs than the usual old-school kueh shops.
Just opened in June 2016, Peranakan Khek along Jalan Besar is a smart outfit with wooden floors and bare white walls – not unlike nearby cafes in the grungy-hip area. But, instead of serving carrot or tiramisu cakes delivered from a central kitchen, chef-owner Sharon Low serves six types of kueh. Previously a pastry chef at Prive Cafe, Low makes them the old-fashioned way – for ang ku kueh, the skin is made by steaming and mashing sweet potatoes by hand; white sesame seeds are slow-roasted, then added to the split mung bean filling that is carefully stirred over low heat for hours.
Low understands the importance of making the kueh look good, too. “The current food landscape is very visually inclined, thanks to social media, so we make sure the kueh’s all cut cleanly and presented neatly on the counter,” she says. “I hope to elevate kueh to the level of wagashi, where people will see them as lovely gifts with great cultural value.”
PHOTO: Behind the scenes at Peranakan Khek.
At Baba Chews Bar and Eatery, kueh dadar (pandan crepe with grated coconut) is served with gula melaka ice cream and decorated with sliced strawberries. Local culinary icon Violet Oon has also put a fancy spin on the signature kueh dadar and kueh salat at her restaurant in National Gallery Singapore. As part of her recently launched high-tea menu at National Kitchen by Violet Oon, the sweet treats are placed on a three-tier cake stand, together with savouries like kueh pie tee (pastry shells filled with vegetables and prawns).