Looking for desserts to end your meal? Discover these old traditional desserts that are guaranteed to leave you satisfied and bring back many memories.
Don’t knock ‘em til you try ‘em. These desserts, which are more like warm hugs in a bowl, are pretty endangered as a food species and are a serious throwback for us locals. It throws us right back into the bosoms of our mothers and grandmothers.
Most of these dishes still go by their old-school dialect names and can be found either in a standalone shop or at hawker centres. Here is a helpful list.
1. “Ah Balling”
Also known as ‘tang yuan’, these Chinese glutinous rice balls are soft, slightly chewy and stuffed with peanut, sesame paste and red bean. Typically served in a sweet, gingery broth or a lighter peanut soup. Best eaten on a cool rainy day for that extra gingery warmth.
2. Bo Bo Cha Cha
Bo bo cha cha is served as a warm hearty dessert made up of pearled sago, sweet potatoes, yams, coloured glutinous rice balls and coconut milk with pandan leaf aromas.
A dessert popular among the Peranakans, the Malays also make a version of this with ripened bananas and it is also known as bubur cha cha. The natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes when boiled in pandan-infused coconut milk makes it an irresistible treat, often invoking nostalgia amongst many Singaporeans.
3. Green Bean Soup
A Chinese dessert soup made from green (or mung) beans and is cooling and sweet at once. There are a few versions but most are made by boiling mung beans with pandan leaves, slices of ginger, pearl sago and finished with a fresh coconut milk and gula melaka or palm sugar.
Popular among many, this dessert is highly nutritious as it contains a high level of folate, making it a popular choice among expecting mums and the elderly.
4. Red Bean Soup
Sweet Red Bean Soup Dessert is a popular Chinese warm dessert (or tong sui) made from red beans. The most popular version is made by boiling red beans with pandan leaves and tangerine peel. Sometimes gingko nuts and sago are added for extra heartiness. A delicious and rich dessert known for its cooling properties, you may want to skip on your appetiser to make room for this after your meal!
5. “Orh Nee”
This popular Teochew dessert is made from blended taro paste. Taro is locally known as ‘yam’ and this hot dessert is usually served with gingko nuts to complement the paste.
This dessert is often served at weddings too, as yam pudding signifies fertility while growth is represented by the beans and ginko nuts used. This dessert is undoubtedly a true representation of tradition and is sure to bring back fond memories.
6. “Pulut Hitam”
A dessert of Malay origin, Pulut Hitam is a textured black glutinous rice pudding served with coconut cream. Often sold at dessert shops with the other hot desserts, don’t be put off by its black colour.
Soaked and slow cooked with pandan leaves and then served with a drizzle of rich coconut cream, this sweet black rice pudding will leave you wanting more.
7. “Tau Suan”
Tau Suan is a sweet Chinese dessert made of split mung beans served hot with fried dough crullers (youtiao).
This dessert is an all time favourite due to its sweet, starchy and gooey concoction, making it a lighter alternative to green bean soup. The bright yellow colour of the mung beans makes it an attractive and popular warm dessert. Top this up with slices of youtiao and let it soak in the soup for that extra bite.
Where to Go:
Mei Heong Yuen Dessert
Address: 63 to 67 Temple Street, Singapore 058611
Opening Hours: 12:00pm to 9:30pm, closed Mon
Ah Chew Desserts
Address: 1 Liang Seah Street, Liang Seah Place #01-10/11, Singapore 189022
Opening Hours: Mon to Fri, 12:30pm to 12:00am; Sat to Sun, 1:30pm to 12:00am
115 Tang Shui
Address: 335 Smith Street, Chinatown Complex Food Centre #02-206, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: Mon, 7:30am to 5:00pm; Wed to Sun, 7:00am to 5:00pm; Closed on Tue
8. “Tau Huay”
The base of this popular Chinese dessert is soft and smooth tofu, also referred to as soybean pudding. It is simple but deliciously served in a sweet, clear syrup infused with pandan and gula melaka. A popular treat anytime of the day, it is especially eaten at breakfast and is sometimes accompanied with a piping hot fried dough cruller or youtiao dunked in the warm silky beancurd pudding.
Where to Go:
Lao Ban Soya Beancurd
Address: 1 Kadayanallur Street, Maxwell Food Centre #01-91, Singapore 069184
Opening Hours: 11:30am to 4:00pm, closed Sun
Rochor Original Beancurd
Address: 2 Short Street, Singapore 188211
Opening Hours: Mon to Thu, 11:00am to 1:00am; Fri, 11:00am to 3:00am; Sat, 12:00pm to 3:00am; Sun, 12:00pm to 1:00am