What will be the first hawker food you’d recommend to a tourist? *strokes chin* HMMM
Black Muah Chee
Well, given the diverse and wide spread of dishes available, it’s only natural to prioritise our long list. I’ll definitely nominate Chicken rice and Hokkien Mee into the “DieDieMustTry” category, foods like Bak Chor Mee and Prawn Noodles will go into the “BetterEatBeforeYouLeave”. And then there’s the “EatIfStillGotStomachSpace”, where i’ll throw in foods like Kway Chap and Carrot Cake.
But let’s take some time here to shine the spotlight on some wallflowers. Foods like Tutu Kueh or Tau Sar Piah probably didn’t spring into our minds. But these little gems are part our Singapore hawker heritage too, and without our due recognition, they’ll slowly fade away with the memories of each passing generation. For today, i’ll be sharing the story of an underrated snack that many only eat when a Pasar Malam sprouts up; Muah Chee.
For many years, i’ve only tried Muah Chee from Pasar Malams. And i have to admit, i’ve belittled this simple snack and never imagined it possible for someone to raise it to the level of an artisanal delicacy. Mr Teo started making Muah Chee at the age of 14 and took over his father as a second gen hawker, building on the 60 years of heritage.
Mr Teo and his Father
In the past, Mr Teo and his father would prepare all their raw ingredients by hand, from milling rice to get flour, to roasting and grinding peanuts for the coat. Many steps of the preparation process has been made easy with the help of machines, but i can guarantee you that Mr Teo’s Muah Chee won’t be JUST any Muah Chee. Mr Teo still insists on using his hand to proportion each ball of Muah Chee, carefully and swiftly pinching each small globule, giving each one a dab in shallot oil, before giving them a good toss in either either grounded peanuts or black sesame. According to Mr Teo, the Muah Chee loses its “spring” if you snip it with scissors. And i have to admit, the Muah Chee here is definitely much more tender than the typical chewing-gum-texture. The coat of peanuts or sesame is fragrant and my only gripe is that i have to wet my fingers to pick up the leftovers!
Into the peanut toss
Artisanal Muah Chee made by the hands of Mr Teo is literally the only one of its kind left standing! Some may complain about the rather steep prices, but if we continue to complain and not support out local hawkers (and spend our money on Japanese Mochi instead of Muah Chee haha), we’ll soon witness the extinction of these little gems. Currently, Mr Teo’s stall is at the basement food court at Toa Payoh Hub, and he will continue to shift until he can find a place to settle down. So catch him before he shifts again!
Address: B1, Toa Payoh HDB Hub (480 Lor 6 Toa Payoh)
Opening Hours: 12pm to 10pm
Prices: $3.50 – $5.50