We all know how much millennials and Gen Zs are sticklers for the retro nowadays, ranging from donning vintage tees to listening to radio hits influenced by the 80s. For food, it’s the same with many youngsters seemingly gravitating towards some old-school gold, in particular min jiang kueh.
Sure the cutesy discs of Belgian chocolate and matcha of trendy new stalls like Munchi have gotten most of the social media attention. However, there’s another newcomer that’s been getting some traction too, by virtue of its old-school authenticity—Kueh Pulau Pinang at Buangkok.
Kueh Pulau Pinang is possibly most renowned for one thing, their owners. Run by an affable elderly couple in their 80s, the stall doesn’t just deliver a certain retro-tinged endearment, but also a warmth from two sincere souls that remind me of my own grandparents.
There’s not much to speak of in terms of set-up; it is quite literally just a makeshift counter with a squeezed stove beside where the septuagenarian hawker works his magic in the congestion of the small corner. And really, you don’t need much more than that for min jiang kueh, the simplest and homeliest of childhood snacks which I swear joy is derived through nostalgia more than taste.
What I tried
It was honestly quite a surprising sight that greeted me when I arrived at the run-of-the-mill food court hidden away on the second floor of a retail complex in Buangkok. There was a sizeable queue that formed right in front of their Kueh Pulau Pinang’s non-descript metal counter.
Many of the customers were middle-aged so there’s no mistaking them for clout-chasing juveniles and were bona fide regulars staying in the area. After a short wait, I made my way to the front of the queue and asked for one of each, the owner affectionately gave a run-down on all his offerings and cordially apologised that his coconut filling was sold out.
No matter, since I always preferred red bean over coconut when it comes to min jiang kueh, along with my curiosity that was more directed towards Kueh Pulau Pinang’s interesting savoury options including Ham, Egg & Cheese.
And I’ll dive right into it—my pick for best min jiang kueh here is the Ham, Egg & Cheese (S$1.80) combo which was priced slightly north of the normal offerings’ S$1. It was an easy pick really because this is easily the most comforting and reassuring breakfast “sandwich” you could get for under S$2.
I don’t know how Kueh Pulau Pinang does it but this was strikingly similar to the classic Egg McMuffin, except you swap out the dry crumbly muffins for the soft chewy delight that was their min jiang kueh.
On the other hand, the Cheese & Corn (S$1.30) creation was less compelling as it didn’t quite hit with the same coherent warmth as the pseudo-Egg McMuffin did. That’s not to say it was bad though, I just enjoy my savoury breakfast items with more of a meatier bite.
The sweet corn was an enjoyable touch definitely and if you want to indulge in the min jiang kueh here at Kueh Pulau Pinang, then you’d have to get used to the sweet corn because there is going to be a lot of it.
I’m not kidding, you could find loose debris of sweet corn floating around in other classic permutations such as the Peanut (S$1). Whether it was intentional or not, I’m not quite sure but it did add a nice bit of moisture to the dry nuttiness of peanuts. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of peanut min jiang kueh and the rendition at Kueh Pulau Pinang wasn’t quite able to convert me either. I thought it was the weakest flavour of the four I tried.
So then, how did my classic go-to of Red Bean (S$1) turn out here? Pretty damn good, really. The aforementioned sweet corn made another cameo here—or rather, topped the bill alongside the main star of red bean.
I gotta say, the combination of the slight salinity of the gooey yellow spread was actually a masterstroke when paired with the fragrant sweetness of red bean. In my friend’s words, “It’s almost like a weird Asian version of peanut butter and jelly”—a sentiment with which I fully concur.
If you’re looking to #supportlocal and #savefnbsg, look no further than Kueh Pulau Pinang and its personable owners. Besides that though, it’s worth coming here for the old-school Penang min jiang kueh that was an absolute steal.
For those looking to jump onto the heritage food craze and hunt for the best min jiang kueh in Singapore, don’t forget to add this new spot to your bucket lists.
Expected damage: From S$1 per portion
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