Singaporeans travel a lot, more than many in this world. Because we are so receptive of world cultures, we have friends around the world, connected with that six degrees of separation. Your friends can bring back Chinese sausages from Hong Kong, banana chiffon cakes from Hokkaido, preserved mangoes from Philippines and fine dates from the Middle East, very recognisable snacking pleasures form those lands. But, what is the ultimate makan souvenir from Singapore? Kaya, Bak kwa, Bak Kut Teh spices, laksa packs, bottle of sambal..etc? How about a little of all these executed via the mind of a serial snack entrepreneur.
Daniel Tay is a wizard in the pastry kitchen and he wanted to be more than just a good baker. So in 1998, with a $300,000 loan from his father, he set up Bakerzin, a bespoke cake boutique that dazzled with this decadent eclairs and the signature Lemon Meringue pie and cakes. Before long he was opening his 30th outlet in Singapore and the region. He sold it in 2007, stayed on for 6 years to implement new strategies and then promptly set up Foodnostics in 2013. He introduced local flavoured cheesecakes with his Cat and the Fiddle kitchen, dabbled in mooncakes and also Old Seng Choong, a local cookie boutique in honour of this late father’s defunct bakery. But what makes this stand out is the menu curation. It is absolutely local and totally gift-able.
His candy-land style cookie shop is very tempting and the batik/Nonya inspired tin packaging design is culturally correct and not overdone nor decadent. They offer 15 varieties of uniquely Singapore flavours. I’ll start with his Cereal Prawn ($19.80) cookie- this is by far one of the easiest to devour. It comes finely crispy to the last bite and has bits of dried shrimps all over inside out, and topped with a little shrimp atop. The savouriness gets you first before the gentle sweetness of the cookie dough surfaces. Their best seller is the Bak Kut Teh ($19.80) cookie, perhaps made so by tourist who eat across his mall at a famous Bak Kut Teh stall. But his is done Malaysian style, with hints of herbs like danggui. Not what I like in a cookie but obviously I am a minority here. Then there’s his range on Nonya flavour bites. His Laksa ($19.80) version is one of the best I’ve had. The spiciness is not tourist-polite and it heats up your palate after just one little piece. The laksa spice is nicely balanced and does not lean toward laksa leaves or lemongrass flavours. I also like the Smokey Bak Kwa ($19.80)- you can see little bits of the sweet pork jerky and the sweet savoury flavour sits so well in such cookies. The smokiness comes across through the well grilled bak kwa bits. If you like them spicy but not overly so, hit his Hae Bi Hiam ($19.80) cookie. The spicy dried shrimp flavour is present and it’s easy on chilli.
Daniel more than fully repaid his dad. He continued his legacy and in the spirit of an entrepreneur, he now looks East to China for even bigger opportunities. Nicely done and inspire us all on, Daniel!
Old Seng Choong
Clarke Quay Central
6, Eu Tong Sen St, #01-48
Order online www.oldsengchoong.com