It’s always easier to settle for something factory-made. It’s cheaper, requires less effort to procure and hey, an unseasoned customer probably can’t even tell the difference between something made by machine and one made by hand. For something like Grass jelly, or Chin Chow as the Hokkiens call it, manufacturing it on a large-scale doesn’t require skill; just a simple increase in the proportions of ingredients. And to be honest, how many of us can appreciate hand-made Grass Jelly, let alone tell it apart from one that’s made on a factory line?
Well, i’m sure i can’t. Haha XD. But i can certainly tell apart a passionate Grass jelly maker from a machine! As a first impression, i was already pleased with the porcelain bowl and metal spoon used to serve the Grass jelly. It gave that picturesque nostalgia that brings you back to the days when Mdm Sim first started selling her Grass jelly (not that i ate her Grass jelly back then, but y’know, that’s how i imagine it to be). Today, the same recipe from 1946 is carefully preserved by her grandson, Mr Yeo.
Mr Yeo wasn’t around the day i visited the stall. His father and mother were there to manage the stall instead and i had a nice chat with them! I initially thought the elderly couple were the main owners of the stall, but they explained that it was really their son Mr Yeo that decided to carry on the passion of his grandma. It was Mr Yeo who decided to start a stall to sell his grandma’s Grass jelly, not his father. I’m glad that her recipe didn’t just fade into history; it simply skipped a generation! Or, as the couple put it “传孙不传子!”. Can we expect other extinct hawker stalls to suddenly reappear like this? I hope so!
My grandma tells me to eat Grass jelly to chiak liang or to balance the yin in my system after eating a “heaty plate of fried kway teow. If eating Grass jelly can cool my system when i’m running on a fever, i’d gladly eat bowls of it than pop a Panadol in my mouth. Granny Sim’s Grass jelly is refreshingly pang (fragrant) from the boiled Mesona Chinensis and has a QQ spring to every mouth. Drizzled with a light syrup, and topped with shaved ice, this bittersweet dessert will definitely cool your system on a hot day. Also, the porcelain bowl and metal spoon helps retains the frost of the whole dessert for a tad bit longer, giving you just enough time to appreciate every spoon.
I was told that in the past, the Grass jelly was served without the shaved ice. Just pure jelly, carried in buckets and sold on the streets. Imagine having to bring an additional bucket of ice along; that would have been a back-breaker! With the growing demand for variety, Mr Yeo offers a variety of toppings, from sea coconut to longan, but i like mine plain.
To sum it up, if you’re like me and can’t really tell the difference between factory-made and hand-made Grass jelly, then head down the Zhao An Granny. It’s definitely tasty and at least you can be sure that you’re eating jelly made from a 70 year-old recipe that staves away from preservatives and unhealthy colouring. To Mdm Sim and Mr Yeo, this bowl of obsidian black jelly is definitely one of the best i’ve had so far. Thank you! ^^
Address: 505 Beach Road, #01-58 Golden Mile Food Centre
Opening Hours: 10am to 8pm
- Grass Jelly – $1.30
Rating: 4.8 /5