While the filling is indeed crucial to making the puff what it is, the crust is equally vital. A crisp crust that's substantial enough to give the puff a decent crust-to-filling ratio with each bite is what we're looking for.
Here are five stalls that we frequent for this golden parcel.
Old Chang Kee
Multiple locations. Full list of outlets here.
What started as a humble stall in a now-defunct coffee shop along Mackenzie Road – they've got an outlet at Rex Cinema on Mackenzie Road – has evolved into an empire with over 50 franchised outlets around the island as well as branches abroad in Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia. For many, Old Chang Kee's deep-fried purses are the gold standard for curry puffs. There are, however, two main camps when it comes to a curry puff crust; you either like it thin, crispy and almost wafer-like or doughy and crumbly that's reminiscent of shortcrust pastry. Old Chang Kee's belong to the latter.
Tanglin Crispy Curry Puff
Hong Lim Food Center, 531A Upper Cross Street, #02-36
Opening hours: 7am to 3pm, daily. Closed on Sundays.
And here's a puff whose crust belongs to the crispy, flaky camp as its name suggests. Tanglin's curry puffs are fried fresh and stuffed with a variety of three fillings. On top of the usual curried chicken and sardines suspects ($1.50 each), they serve a delicious fish otah filling ($1.60). Prices are on the steeper side but the Tanglin's puffs are well worth the extra cents.
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Amoy Street Food Centre, 7 Maxwell Rd, #01-21
Opening hours: 8am to 4pm, daily. Closed on Sundays.
Distinction: Bib Gourmand
They went from baking bread to stuffing curry puffs so they know a thing or two about pastry and it shows. The curry puffs from J2 is beautifully light and flaky, which is a result of closely watching the temperature of the oil, we're told by owner Lee Meng Li. “The temperature of the oil must be just right to be able to create that perfect golden crust," he shares. "The curry puffs also cannot be left in the oil for too long, or the fillings might leak. If that happens, the entire vat of oil cannot be used anymore."
448 Market & Food Centre, 448 Clementi Ave 3, #01-31,
Opening hours: 6am to 6pm, daily.
Word of advice: head down early. The hawker stall at 448 Market & Food Centre has a varied menu, hawking a veritable smorgasbord of kuehs, biscuits and tarts but the star of its display are its curry puffs, which tend to sell out way before 6pm. The puffs here are deep-fried to a toasty golden hue and generously packed with a tasty, meaty filling of curried chicken, potatoes and a hard-boiled egg.
Rolina Traditional Hainanese Curry Puff
Tanjong Pagar Food Centre, 6 Tanjong Pagar Plaza, #02-15
Opening hours: 9am to 2pm, daily.
Unlike Fong's Dee, the menu here is lean. Rolina only hawks puffs in two flavours: curry and sardines. And according to Uncle Tham, a name affectionately coined by his customers, he hasn't changed the recipe in 53 years since he started selling handmade curry puffs outside Novena Church. At $1.20 a moderate-sized puff, it's easy to write Rolina's off as pricey but the price isn't unjustified. The filling is made fresh everyday and what truly sets Rolina's curry puffs apart from the rest is its crust, which is a cross between the typically thin dough of an epok-epok and the doughier, crumbly crust associated with Old Chang Kee's. We call it the best of both worlds.