Sinar Harapan: Shiok dry lontong & nasi ambeng at Haig Road Food Centre

·5-min read

As Singaporeans, we’re really blessed to enjoy a array of cuisines at our local kopitiams and hawker centres. I crave for lontong once in a while and I’m glad I found Sinar Harapan at Haig Road Food Centre. This Muslim-owned establishment has been around since the opening of the food centre back in 1977— that’s a total of 45 years!

sinar harapan - storefront
sinar harapan - storefront

I was greeted by the bright yellow signboard with different selections of dishes filled to the brim at every level of the shelf display. My eyes were kind of overwhelmed scanning through the extensive selection of dishes, causing my empty stomach to rumble— I was ready to start feasting!

Headed by 65-year-old Mdm. Suppiah, everything at Sinar Harapan is painstakingly prepared by her and her two sisters— like Charlie’s angels! The three of them start preparations at 5am, taking turns cooking the food, serving, and organising vendor supplies. The third generation, 41-year-old Nurul and her two siblings, help out at the stall a few times a week whenever their work schedule permits them to.

What I tried at Sinar Harapan

sinar harapan - nasi ambeng
sinar harapan - nasi ambeng

Sinar Harapan serves their food in simple disposable styrofoam plates and bowls— nothing fancy. I began my yummy feast with Nasi Ambeng (S$7.50). I lifted the plate to my table and it was pretty heavy! It was loaded with ingredients at every corner.

It consisted of a pile of white rice topped with serundeng (desiccated coconut) and curry gravy, a big piece of beef rendang, begedil, eggplant sambal, achar, sambal goreng, a whole sambal egg, and a handful of lightly blanched bean sprouts and kangkong.

sinar harapan - closeup of beef rendang
sinar harapan - closeup of beef rendang

My teeth bit through the beef rendang without much effort— it was tender and extremely well marinated. The subtle rendang spices came through after chewing the soft meat and I was off to a good start— can I order a whole bowl of beef rendang please?

sinar harapan - closeup of eggplant
sinar harapan - closeup of eggplant

The eggplants were monster-sized and there were two pieces— perfect for someone like me who loves eggplants! The flesh was soft and creamy, and the sambal on top tied everything together nicely.

sinar harapan - closeup of sambal
sinar harapan - closeup of sambal

The homemade sambal belachan at Sinar Harapan tasted like an exact replica of my Peranakan grandma’s version— it made everything taste better! Nostalgic memories came flooding back with the familiar taste of home. Perhaps my only gripe was the achar. It was rather bland and did not provide an acidic kick to the dish.

sinar harapan - lontong
sinar harapan - lontong
sinar harapan - closeup of lontong
sinar harapan - closeup of lontong

I tried their Lontong (S$4) next. It came with a few pieces of lontong, a whole sambal egg, loads of cabbage, and one huge piece of tau kwa served with lemak gravy. The lontong was silky smooth and melted in my mouth instantly. The serundeng was the umami of the dish, giving the lontong delicious coconutty flavours. If Romeo and Juliet were elements in this dish, they would be lontong and serundeng respectively— these two ingredients should never be separated, ever!

sinar harapan - closeup of taukwa
sinar harapan - closeup of taukwa

I swore my fork was on the brink of breaking when I poked it through the piece of tau kwa. It was so huge and had already soaked up the gravy like a sponge. Sinking my teeth through it instantly gave me a sense of satisfaction. The cabbage provided a little crunch which surprisingly worked for me— I prefer it soft usually.

sinar harapan - lemak gravy
sinar harapan - lemak gravy

I wished that the lemak gravy was thicker and gave more oomph as it was on the watery side. There was also a slight sourish aftertaste to it, which didn’t sit quite well with me. I shared my feedback with Nurul and she said they will look into it— such a positive attitude and professional response from them… thumbs up!

sinar harapan - dry lontong
sinar harapan - dry lontong

The highlight of my lunch was the Lontong Kering (S$6.50). Translated to dry lontong, this dish is not commonly found in Singapore and I was excited to try it! It came with four pieces of lontong with a generous sprinkling of serundeng on top, a piece of their legendary beef rendang that I had earlier, begedil, paru goreng (fried beef lung) and sambal goreng.

sinar harapan - closeup of beef lung
sinar harapan - closeup of beef lung

No one in my circle loves paru goreng. They get pretty intimidated by its blackish colour and the fact that it’s beef lung. I love it though. The paru at Sinar Harapan is so tender unlike the countless tough ones that I’ve tried in the past. Smokey and flavourful, I do not mind risking my uric acid levels to spike up just for this!

sinar harapan - closeup of lontong with beef
sinar harapan - closeup of lontong with beef

Mdm. Suppiah was so nice and offered to cut up the beef rendang into pieces for meI was once again back at rendang heaven as I paired the soft chunks of meat with the soft lontong topped with the serundeng— I can eat this everyday for sure.

Final Thoughts

sinar harapan - haig rd food centre
sinar harapan - haig rd food centre

Sinar Harapan is a family business that was first started by Nurul’s grandmother who passed down all her recipes to the second generation— consisting of Mdm. Suppiah and her two sisters. It warms my heart to see the third generation joining forces to provide support to this stall.

Most of our good hawkers are getting old and will probably retire in the near future. Sinar Harapan actually stands for “rays of hope”. Hopefully, we can train new blood to join in the dying hawker scene and hope things will shift around for the better.

Head down to Haig Road Food Centre and pay them a visit. I for sure will be heading back for their lontong kering soon!

Expected damage: S$4 – S$7.50 per pax

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