Get us in your inbox

Search
Bukit Merah View Carrot Cake
Photograph: Bukit Merah View Carrot Cake/Facebook

Makan Spotlight: Fried carrot cake

The best places in Singapore to get this delicious hawker staple

Cheryl Sekkappan
Written by
Cheryl Sekkappan
Advertising

Mention carrot cake to Singaporeans and most would think immediately of the fried version also known as chai tow kway. This delicious hawker staple consists of cubes of radish cake stir-fried in a hot wok with garlic, eggs and chai poh (preserved radish). But fried carrot cake wasn't always so fancy – when it was first brought over by Teochew immigrants from China, the dish simply consisted of rice cakes (no radish added) fried with dark soy sauce.

As the dish evolved, the white version was eventually developed – effectively splitting fried carrot cake lovers into two camps. Both have something going for it: black carrot cake is sweet and addictive, with beautiful caramelisation thanks to the dark soy sauce; white carrot cake is clean-tasting, and because it is only seasoned with light soy sauce or fish sauce, allows the salty notes from the chai poh and egg to shine through. 

Whatever your preference, fried carrot cake is a hawker dish that all Singaporeans can be proud of. There are many excellent renditions of the dish in our coffeeshops and hawker centres – here is but a snapshot of some of the best to try. 

RECOMMENDED: The best hawker centres in Singapore and Makan Spotlight: Roti John

Bukit Merah View Carrot Cake
Photograph: Bukit Merah View Carrot Cake/Facebook

Bukit Merah View Carrot Cake

Bukit Merah View Carrot Cake has a history that stretches back easily 60 years, and is now run by a duo of brothers (there used to be three, but one left to pursue another path). At one point, this was one of the last places in Singapore where you could get traditionally made radish cake – instead of using rice flour, the brothers would mill broken rice into a fine grain, create a paste from that, before adding white radish and turnip. Now, they get the cakes from a factory that uses the same traditional technique. We can't say the taste has suffered; both the black and white versions (from $2.50) are served chunkier than usual with a good amount of wok hei. 

  • Restaurants
  • Hawker
  • Bukit Timah

He Zhong Carrot Cake has been at Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre since 1973, and remains one of the more popular stalls there. You will only be able to find white carrot cake here, with the radish cake homemade daily with a special recipe – rare to find in Singapore these days. Each plate is heaped with savoury white carrot cake in large, chunky squares, packed generously with chai poh and fried to a light, golden crisp. 

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Hawker
  • Bedok

Mr Quek Sio Tee has been selling carrot cake since the 1950s. He began frying it back in the kampong with his brother before moving into a hawker centre at Bedok. There, he continues to dish out his signature black and white carrot cake ($4), but his old age and weak knees make it difficult for him to stand behind a stove all day. Luckily, he has a protégé. His daughter, Elenda Quek, left her job as a teacher to continue the family business. And together with her mother and cousins, the family now runs six different hawker stalls, all selling the same carrot cake that the elder Quek used to prepare. 

Fried Carrot Cake

Started in the 1960s by Ng Keng Chow as a pushcart in Tiong Bahru Market, Fried Carrot Cake is now helmed by his son and grandson at Clementi 448 Market & Food Centre. The carrot cake (from $3) here is cooked in batches and served piping hot to hungry queues. Expect a balanced plate of moist yet crispy carrot cake – and if you like it eggy, then you'll be glad to know that the chefs are generous with eggs here. Expect up to 30 minutes of waiting time at peak hours, but good things are always worth waiting for. 

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Bedok

For some seriously good heartlands grub, make for Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre. It houses famous shacks like Song Zhou Fried Carrot Cake’s stall (#01-37). Order the white version of the dish ($3-$5) – it’s fluffy, comes in a generous portion and has just enough chilli for a decent kick of spice. The black version is just as good, with an addictive sweetness that doesn't overpower the rest of the ingredients. 

  • Restaurants
  • Hawker
  • Buona Vista

One of Singapore's more famous carrot cake hawker stalls, Ghim Moh Carrot Cake now has an additional outlet at ABC Brickworks – more hope for hungry visitors to beat the queue? Nevertheless, expect homemade carrot cakes at Ghim Moh Carrot Cake, which the more discerning will immediately be able to tell apart from commercially made ones. A plate of white or black carrot cake starts at $2.50 and it's hard to choose which is better. Just go for a small portion of each and be sure to get more chilli for that extra kick. 

Advertising
618 Sim Carrot Cake
Photograph: 618 Sim Carrot Cake

618 Sim Carrot Cake

For something a little different, head to 618 Sim Carrot Cake for their version of carrot cake with prawns ($5). Fresh prawns are diced and mixed into the egg and radish cake for frying, giving the dish an extra crunch and umami kick. The regular white carrot cake ($3.50) is just as delicious, and unusually, comes served with a large dollop of chai poh on the side for those that can't get enough of it. Run by Mr. Sim Yih Hao, who took over from his parents, 618 Sim Carrot Cake is probably one of the best carrot cakes you can find in the North. 

Makan more

Advertising
Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising