Soo Teck Lim Vegetarian Confectionery

The crowd at Soo Teck Lim on a Saturday afternoon.

A friend of mine posted on Facebook a picture of Soo Teck Lim Vegetarian Confectionery about a week ago, declaring the tau sar piah sold here to be “the best in Singapore”. Despite being on something known as a diet, tau sar piah unfortunately falls under the category of one of those things I absolutely cannot resist. I… just can’t. That’s how I found myself here yesterday afternoon, marvelling at how there actually exists a shop in this day and age which (a): does great business while (b): managing to elude online coverage thus far. I guess the fact that I looked to be the only person of non-retiree age present at the shop may go a long way in explaining this.

You get to pick and choose from an array of tau sar piah (birthdates included to aid in your decision-making process).

The shop was a flurry of activity – there was a queue in front of a lady standing at a rack of assorted pastries, another behind the lady solely in charge of doling out tau sar piah, and a third one at the cashier’s. People were outside the shop working on adding the finishing touches to mooncakes whilst surrounded by trays of bean paste fillings that had been laid out to cool. It was a little chaotic, but everyone seemed to know what they were doing. As I made my way around trying to make sense of the way things were ran, a frazzled looking man emerged from the kitchen holding a tray of newborn mooncakes, moving swiftly to slot it into one of the holding racks outside the shop.

Busy busy.

What I loved about this shop was how unabashedly Teochew it was. I know this is Hougang and I know we’re talkin’ old school bakery here, but I was still caught off guard by the aunties speaking to me in dialect. Dude… that almost never happens in Singapore. The aunties didn’t even seem to register my surprise, like it never crossed their minds that I might not be able to understand what they were saying. I was very pleased to be considered one of them. Never mind that I actually am. I then proceeded to flex my, ahem, linguistic muscles by replying in Teochew. A little stilted due to years of non-use, but perfectly comprehensible, if I may say so myself. Cue tears of pride and joy.

Isn’t the little pineapple marking the cutest thing ever? Tau sar piah, $20.80 for a box of 10.

For all the humble and homely qualities that Soo Teck Lim so effortlessly embodies, it must be said that their pastries don’t come cheap. At a little over $2.00 per piece (assuming you buy a box of 10), the price point places the tau sar piah here as one of the most expensive I’ve come across. Don’t be a wuss and let that stop you; just think about how illogical it would be to willingly fork out $4.00 for that ridiculously tiny lavender bundt cake from Carpenter & Cook [PLUG] Post coming right up! [/PLUG] yet refuse to part with $2.00 for a notoriously hard to make tau sar piah.

Salty bean paste, 酥皮豆沙 (咸).

I got a mix of flavours for the 10 tau sar piah: Salty, sweet (酥皮豆沙 – 甜), pineapple (酥皮黄梨) and black sesame (黑芝麻豆沙 – 咸). Those flavours are listed in order of preference, post-tasting.

Let’s start with the not-as-good. Notice I didn’t say not-so-good. That’s because all the tau sar piah were, objectively speaking, brilliant. In spite of the conspicuous absence of lard in their Teochew pastries – I’m sure you see the word vegetarian in the shop name right – the tau sar piah crusts were both flaky and crisp. I didn’t take very well to the black sesame flavour because it was quite peppery (??), and I would’ve preferred a pineapple filling with a chunkier texture as opposed to the smooth jam that was used here.

The sweet and salty flavours were, on the other hand, faultless. The sugar level in the bean paste used for the sweet tau sar piah was nicely reined in, allowing for the texture of the freshly and finely ground bean paste to shine. As for the salty tau sar piah, the crumbly mung bean filling with its subtle notes of five spice powder and just the slightest dash of pepper, was so, friggin’, amazing.

Teochew yam mooncake (潮州芋泥饼), $11.30 each.

It being the week before Mid-Autumn Festival and all, I got waylaid on the way to the cashier’s by this yam mooncake. Can’t blame me, the poor thing wore his heart on his sleeve… Now come slap me through the Internet if you can. Teehee.

The yam mooncake here was decent though not mindblowing. The filling, in line with Soo Teck Lim‘s philosophy of keeping things “not so sweet” (it’s even printed on their paper bags), was where the absence of lard was keenly felt. It was devoid of the depth of flavour that the Eater Palace mooncakes possess, what with the latter’s shallot-y orh nee fillings. Crust-wise it didn’t fare so well either. Truth be told I was expecting quite a lot more for an eleven-dollar mooncake, but I suppose they’ve done as well as they can for vegetarian mooncakes. As you can tell I am a firm believer of the necessity of meat in one’s diet.

Spoilt for choice.

Would I go so far as to call the tau sar piah sold here the best tau sar piah in Singapore? I’d argue that it’s definitely up there with the big boys in the Balestier area, but returning to Soo Teck Lim isn’t going to stop me from craving the buttery tau sar piah from Loong Fatt. Them’s apples and oranges, and sometimes a pig girl just wants to have it all.

Soo Teck Lim Vegetarian Confectionery
Block 210, Hougang Street 21
#01-257
Singapore 530210

Opening hours: 9a.m. to 10p.m., daily.
Tel. No.: 6287 0198

N.B.: I’m a little confused about the opening hours. According my friend this shop is open only for the 2 to 3 week period prior to any major Chinese holiday (that would be the Lunar New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival), because the proprietors and staff are getting on in age. On hindsight I don’t remember ever seeing the shop open on the occasions that I’ve passed it by, save for yesterday’s visit. I tried to verify this with a man working at the shop, but he told me that they’re open daily. I’ll be back after Mid-Autumn Festival to confirm this.

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Comments
3 Responses to “Soo Teck Lim Vegetarian Confectionery”
  1. Rchelle says:

    hi:)

    was the shop open after Mid-autumn Festival?

    Thanks!

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