Dining Out 3 minutes 29 October 2017

Breakfast Club: Ham Chim Peng for the Early-Riser

In this list, we champion six stalls that serves the crispy, golden bun for breakfast (and dinner).

bread breakfast Singapore Hawker

It resembles an Asian doughnut without the hole, ham chim peng is Cantonese for deep fried dough fritters and is traditionally salty. Today, it comes in an assortment of flavours and fillings but it is often overlooked for its gloriously golden dough-stick sibling, you tiao.

We’re told that refined coconut oil is one of the best to be deep-frying with but every hawker has their own secrets and tricks they employ for the perfect snack we usually associate with breakfast. All that really matters is that at the end, we get a toasty, warm and crispy fried bun singing of sweet and savoury flavours.

Here are six spots to visit for your ham chim peng fix that are best consumed on the spot.

Ham chim pengs getting crisped up in hot oil
Ham chim pengs getting crisped up in hot oil
Kim Soon
Kovan Hawker Centre, Hougang Street 21, Block 209, #01-18
Opening hours: 5am to 2pm (or till sold out), Mon to Fri; 5am to 4pm (or till sold out), Sat & Sun.

To beat the queue at Kim Soon, one has to chase the rising sun. Visit past 8am on a weekend and you’ll have to wait your turn with a queue number. This humble outpost at Kovan Hawker Centre has a serious following and they often sell out before their 2 or 4pm closing hours. Their fried buns are made fresh every day with their own yeast starter; prep work for the dough begins 10 hours before they open. At $2 for three varieties of fried buns (ham chim peng, butterfly or you tiao), it’s one of the pricier options on the market but that doesn’t deter Kim Soon’s customers in the least.

Farrer You Tiao
Empress Road Market and Food Centre, 7 Empress Road, #01-99
Opening hours: 6am to 1pm, Tue to Sun. Closed on Mondays.

There should be a word to describe the disappointment of biting into a bun expecting a hunk of creamy, luscious filling only to find it superbly hollow. But that’s certainly not the case with Farrer You Tiao’s ham chim pengs. At only $0.90 a pop, their salted red bean bun is a real winner.

Ham chim peng topped with sesame seeds, a characteristic of a fried bun filled with a red bean paste
Ham chim peng topped with sesame seeds, a characteristic of a fried bun filled with a red bean paste
You Tiao Man
127 Toa Payoh Lorong 1, #02-05
Opening hours: 6am to 2pm, daily.

The beauty of a good ham chim peng lies in the oil it is fried in. The oil has to be changed frequently or the deep-fried buns will be at risk of getting burnt on the outside and undercooked inside. You Tiao Man is a 50-year-old institution that’s been using quality produce for their fried buns. Only refined coconut oil and premium flour make the cut here. If you pay the stall a visit today, you’ll find young faces behind the till; the family business is now seeing its third generation taking over the helm. The result is the humble hawker stall embracing technology – You Tiao Man’s deep-fried buns can now be delivered to you via food delivery app. Just be sure to check if they deliver to your postal code.

You Zha Kueh
Blk 216 Bedok Food Centre and Market, Blk 216 Bedok North St 1, #01-43
Opening hours: 6am to noon, daily.

Like You Tiao Man, this hawker stall at Blk 216 Bedok Food Centre and Market makes use of refined coconut oil for the deep-frying of their buns. They also claim to be vegetarian so customers need not worry about the use of lard or butter adopted in the processing of their food. The prices of their ham chim pengs start at $0.60 for the plain, red bean and glutinous and $0.70 for a salted green bean option.
Deep-fried Chinese dough sticks called you tiao find their way out of the oil
Deep-fried Chinese dough sticks called you tiao find their way out of the oil
And if you’ve got a hankering for the salty-sweet snack past noon, here are a couple of stalls that will take care of that craving.

Hum Jin Pang
Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayayanallur Street, #01-28
Opening hours: 2pm to 8pm, daily.

Unlike the stalls we’ve mentioned earlier where you tiao is their main attraction and their ham chim pengs, a side act, the salted fried dough fritters here are the star. Customers will remember an elderly man and his wife here but his daughter has since taken over the manning of the popular stall. But the unique thing about Hum Jin Pang is that it’s all DIY, which means customers have to fry the fritters, coat them with sugar and bag them on their own. The hawker stays behind the window to knead, shape and drop the dough in hot oil to order. If it’s your first visit here, it can be a little daunting but it’s easy once you get the hang of it. Two variants are served here: red bean paste and a plain bun coated with a five-spice powder, salt and sugar. The latter has our vote.

Hock Heng You Tiao
Tanglin Halt Food Centre, Blk 1A Commonwealth Drive, #01-11
Opening hours: 4pm to 8.30pm or until sold out, Tues to Fri. Closed Sat to Mon.

Getting your hands on the fried fritters from Hock Heng is a bit like trying your luck at the lottery. The stall is only opened four days a week for four and a half hours each time. And if you arrive any time after 7pm, the chances of you procuring one of their famed ham chim pengs is pretty slim. But if you do, they’re chewy, fluffy and best eaten on the spot. Choose from two flavours: salted or filled with a lotus seed paste.

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