When I first came across Kaya Kaya when I was wandering around Hong Lim Market & Food Centre, my attention was caught by the exciting kaya toast flavours displayed on the menu: Vanilla Butter, Garlic & Herb and Furikake Oishi.
With kaya toast being a classic favourite among Singaporeans young and old, it almost feels sacrilegious to “taint” this simple, unchanging dish with the addition of unorthodox flavours.
After intriguing me for weeks, my curiosity finally got the better of me and I decided to try out these unique kaya toast flavours for myself.
What I tried at Kaya Kaya
I ordered all three available Kayak Toasts on the menu: the Kaya Butter Toast (S$2.40), the Vanilla Butter Toast (S$2.40) and the Garlic & Herbs Toast (S$2.60).
The first thing I tried was the classic Singaporean breakfast dish: the Kaya Butter Toast.
I was served two small toasted sandwiches filled with kaya and a slab of butter in the middle. Given the price of the toast, I had definitely been expecting something a little bigger.
The toasted bread was crunchy yet easy to bite into, while the kaya was smooth and sweet. However, I did find it to taste a bit one-dimensional with not much fragrance or complexity. The square of butter on top added a rich and creamy taste to the entire toast.
I would have liked for there to be a more generous amount of kaya within the toast, especially at its price. While the Kaya Butter Toast tasted traditional and comforting, it was really quite average.
Next, I had the Vanilla Butter Toast, which came with two thick slices of white bread spread with a layer of butter and drizzled with a sweet milky sauce.
While I had expected the vanilla butter to be a variation of kaya toast (after all, the stall’s name was literally Kaya Kaya, which led me to think that this hawker stall would be some kind of kaya toast specialty store), I was extremely disappointed upon receiving the Vanilla Butter Toast, which was simply regular vanilla butter toast with no kaya.
I had initially assumed that the Kayak Toast labelling on the menu had been a typo, but in hindsight, I believe that the word “kayak” may have been in reference to the round, slightly boat-like shape of the bread slices.
When this realisation dawned on me, the novelty that had drawn me to this stall to begin with disappeared in a flash. Regardless, I took a deep breath and decided to give the Vanilla Butter Toast a try.
The toast had a crispy exterior and a chewy interior. The surface had been toasted with butter, donning a tantalising yellow surface. The sweet sauce drizzled on top was definitely the stand-out, as it was milky with vanilla undertones and a buttery aftertaste.
However, the layer of butter was too thin for my liking as only the surface had absorbed it while the underlying layers of the bread remained plain. Maybe that’s just my ultra-indulgent self talking, but this toast would have been miles more aromatic if the more butter had been used, to allow for more flavours to seep into the thick bread slices.
The final toast I had was the Garlic & Herbs Toast.
Like the Vanilla Butter Toast situation, my initial impression was that the Garlic & Herbs Toast was a variation of kaya toast, but instead I was served a plate of garlic bread. Despite that, the toast had a crisp yellow surface peppered liberally with dried herbs, and I had high hopes.
I was very surprised at the strength of the herbs. Most prominently, I could taste the distinct aroma of dried oregano, and I was quite impressed at the garlic aspect of the toast too. Compared to other garlic breads, the Garlic & Herbs Toast was not sweet at all and leaned fully towards the savoury side.
Similar to the Vanilla Butter Toast, I was let down at the meagre amount of butter that barely seeped into the bread slices. Given the thickness of the bread used, I would have preferred for there to be a greater amount of butter to balance out the neutral flavours of the bread a little more.
I’d say that the Garlic & Herbs Toast was my favourite of the three toasts as it tasted very different from other garlic breads I’ve had, and the strength of the herbs really appealed to me. However, those who dislike the taste of oregano, or those who prefer sweeter toasts, may not enjoy it as much.
Ironically, despite the store name being Kaya Kaya, there was only one actual kaya dish available on the menu. Disappointment at the misleading menu aside, I found the toasts to be pretty average, but still comforting enough to remind me of the old days.
I’d give the Kaya Butter Toast a skip as there are plenty of cheaper and better versions out there, but the Vanilla Butter Toast and Garlic & Herbs Toast were interesting enough for me to enjoy.
I was most excited to try its Furikake Oishi toast, but it had been taken off the menu. Even if it wasn’t a furikake-d version of kaya toast, I had still been looking forward to trying something so unique, but alas, it was not even available. The same went for the stall’s Icy Fraps, which were listed in flavours such as matcha and oreo.
If Kaya Kaya were to consider a menu revamp to introduce more kaya toast flavours like I had been led to believe and actually live up to its name, perhaps I would revisit it — and cross my fingers that its full menu would be available.
Expected damage: S$2.40 – S$4 per pax
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