Cakes and ice cream can vie for our attention all they want. But at the end of the day, there’s always something special about a warm bowl of tau suan or creamy yam paste. Traditional Chinese desserts are (quite literally) one of the sweetest ways to get a taste of nostalgia. They’re ubiquitous, affordable and so darn’ delicious.
Most of us probably have heard the famous local dessert places such as Mei Heong Yuen and Ji De Chi. But, away from the spotlight are a plethora of smaller local dessert shops that deserve equal credit for their food. We’ve hunted down 10 of these underrated dessert spots that probably only the most seasoned foodies know about.
From iced cheng teng to sesame paste, we’ve scoured all kinds of traditional Chinese desserts that will satisfy you any time, any day!
It’s not every day that you find an establishment that makes their soy-based products from scratch without preservatives and artificial ingredients — which is what makes Beano such a gem find. Founded in 2004, Beano transforms high-quality soybeans from Canada into silken beancurd and creamy soy milk.
Their menu offers a variety of cold beancurd flavours, such as Almond and Rose, and grass jelly desserts. If the traditional beancurd style isn’t exciting enough for you, they also have red bean and taro ball toppings available for a Taiwanese spin!
Blk 6, Everton Park,#01-02
Mon – Fri: 8am – 8.30pm
Sat – Sun: 8am – 6pm
Tel +65 9852 7900
Nearest Station: Outram Park
#2 GONG HE GUAN
Immerse yourself in the homely atmosphere of a 1980s Hong Kong dessert shop at Gong He Guan, replete with wooden stools and worn menus. This quiet shop serves a variety of traditional Chinese desserts, from Sesame Paste (S$3) to Rock Melon with Sago (S$3.80).
Their Tang Yuans (S$1.20 for 3pcs) are a must-get. Bouncy, chewy and bursting with black sesame or peanut lava, they are the perfect addition to almost any dessert. For lighter alternative, the Mango Kwai Leng Guo (S$3.90) will provide some relief on a warm afternoon.
28 Upper Cross St
Tel +65 6223 0562
Daily: 10.30am – 10.30pm
Nearest Station: Chinatown
#3 GREEN SKY DESSERT
It’s almost impossible to miss this stall at Redhill Food Centre armed with gaudy lights, an LCD TV screening cartoons and — wait for it — a dancing man. That’s right, the owner of Green Sky Dessert is known for his sick moves as he churns out bowls of dessert.
But, the stall doesn’t command a queue just for its free entertainment, it’s also for its affordable, comforting desserts. They’ve got an impressive variety for a small hawker stall, with the likes of bubur hitam and green bean soup. But, what most people flock to this stall for is the Tau Suan (S$1.50). Their rendition promises a fragrant, well-balanced gravy enriched with mung beans and you tiao.
Redhill Food Centre, 85 Redhill Lane, #01-60
Tel +65 9636 6509
Wed – Sun: 3pm – 11pm
Nearest Station: Redhill
#4 HOUSE OF DESSERT
Have you ever heard of Lotus Suan? Don’t worry, we didn’t either, not until we found House of Dessert. This hawker stall is one of Tampines Round Market’s prized possession, housing a trove of fantastic dessert stews.
Their Lotus Suan (S$3.80) bears semblance to the more familiar Tau Suan, but whole lotus seeds are used in place of mung beans. So if you’re someone who can appreciate the slightly nuttier and fuller bite of lotus seeds, this is a must-try.
Those who would like to remain in their safe comfort zones can still tuck into a good bowl of Tau Suan (S$1.50) and Red Bean Soup (S$1.50).
137A Tampines Street 11, Tampines Round Market
Tues – Wed: 7am – 3pm
Fri – Sun: 7am – 3pm
Nearest Station: Tampines West
#5 NO NAME CHENG TNG
The owner must have channelled all the energy for thinking of a shop name into the making of the cheng tng itself because, man, that is one solid bowl of Cheng Tng (S$1.70).
Loaded with a generous portion of ingredients, you’ll be stuffed silly with white fungus, longans, and sweet potato chunks. The soup itself is ultra-fragrant, layered with the essence of barley, pandan, red dates and other ingredients.
If Cheng Tng isn’t really your thing, maybe their Ice Kachang will suit your preference.
69 Bedok South Ave 3, #01-490
Tel +65 9181 1909
Tues – Sun: 12.30pm – 8.15pm
Nearest Station: Tanah Merah
One taste of the desserts at Ren Ren and you’ll instantly feel the heart and soul behind it. Run by a senior couple, Mr and Mrs Tang, this homey establishment has been around for almost two decades now. The modest furniture and old-school dishware will have you feeling like you’re just over for a meal at a family friend’s place.
Except, that family friend’s kitchen houses dessert galore. Take it from us and order their Chendol (S$2.90). Infused with freshly squeezed coconut milk, it’s the real deal. Their Fresh Mango with Ice Cream and Pomelo (S$3.90) will fight for your attention too.
Siglap Centre, 55 Siglap Rd, #B1-23
Tel +65 9117 8228
Tues – Thurs: 1.30pm – 7.30pm
Sat – Sun: 1.30pm – 7.30pm
Nearest Station: Tanah Merah
#7 TECK KEE HOT & COLD DESSERTS
Nostalgia has never tasted so good than at Teck Kee Hot & Cold Desserts. This stall has won the hearts of its regulars with its simple yet superb desserts. Their menu includes a mix of hot and cold treats, such as Ice Kachang and Chin Chow Longan.
The Ice Cheng Teng (S$1.70) comes piled with shaved ice, the perfect sponge for the herbally sweet soup it is drenched in. This is our go-to dessert for days when the atmospheric oven is cranked up high. Their Tau Suan (S$1.50) is also a crowd favourite, thanks to its more robust and deeper flavour.
2 Adam Rd, Adam Road Food Centre, #01-31
Tues – Sun: 12pm – 11.30pm
Nearest Station: Botanic Gardens
#8 WOONG KEE TRADITIONAL DESSERT
Yes, you’ve tried soya beancurd before. But, have you had black soya beancurd? Even if you have, Woong Kee Traditional Dessert’s version warrants a visit. Their silken, soft beancurd could glide down a porcupine’s back in seconds.
Not only that, this hawker stall is very health-minded, so they’re pretty shy about the sugar when it comes to their beverages and desserts. But, that just allows the natural flavours of the ingredients to shine even more. We recommend their 3-in-1 Beancurd (S$3.30) which is topped with red beans, gingko nuts and lotus seeds!
1 Kadayanallur St, Maxwell Food Centre, Stall #80
Tel +65 8479 3280
Mon – Fri: 11am – 8pm
Sat – Sun: 10am – 9pm
Nearest Station: Telok Ayer
#9 XI LE TING
How about some warm sweet soups to wash down the grease from your hawker food binge at Commonwealth Crescent Hawker Centre? Run by an elderly lady, Xi Le Ting churns out traditional sweet porridges and soups at only $1 each! While the menu variety is pretty modest, every single one of its offerings is of standard.
Bubur Terigu, sweet wheat porridge, is harder to find these days. But, you’ll find a huge stewing pot of it here at Xi Le Ting. The wheat barley is stewed till soft, imparting its earthy essence into the soup. Another must-try here is the Green Bean Soup with sago, which brags of a smooth creamy consistency.
117 Commonwealth Dr, Commonwealth Crescent Market & Food Centre
Thurs – Sun: 12pm – 6pm
Nearest Station: Commonwealth
#10 YAT KA YAN
Their name is Cantonese for “One Family”, which is very apt for this family business and its homely fare. Specialising in a range of Chinese desserts, Yat Ka Yan offers comforting treats in a bright, friendly atmosphere.
Their Chendol was blameless — doused in fragrant gula melaka and coconut milk. And their Sesame-Walnut Paste is pretty amazing. Thick, rich and not too cloying, it really hits the spot.
190 Middle Rd, #02-08, Fortune Centre
Tel +65 9669 9129
Daily: 11.30am – 9.30pm
Nearest Station: Bugis