Singaporeans alike all love to feast and bury ourselves in local hawker delicacies. So there’s no doubt our Fried Carrot Cake 菜头粿 is included. No, there’s absolutely no connection or likeness to the western sweet carrot cake eaten as a dessert, nor any real carrots in it.
It is more affectionately known as “Chai Tow Kway” to people who love ordering it. Carrot cake is more accurately known as 萝卜糕, which can referred to both carrots and radish. Somewhere along time, westerners got lost in translation and it was called ‘Carrot Cake’, instead of ‘Radish Cake’.
Carrot cake is made with ‘white carrot’ which is also known as radish cake cubes, stir fried with eggs, preserved radish and then flavoured with seasonings. Chilli can be added upon request to give you that extra kick when having this dish.
Two variations exists; ‘black’ or ‘white’ carrot cake. The black one is fried with dark soy sauce which also gives it’s sweetness, whereas the latter is where the carrot cake is fried only with beaten eggs to form a crispy crust.
Let’s get on to the top carrot cakes we like in Singapore:
1. 松洲萝卜糕 Song Zhou Luo Bo Gao
Not as decorated as many of its modern-styled counterparts, the folks at Song Zhou Luo Bo Gao stuck to their roots and have been producing traditional servings of radish cakes stir-fried with eggs, preserved radish and other seasonings, forsaking impractical decorative garnishes.
Comprising of a generous amount of chye por (salted white radish) and garlic, the carrot cake is expertly fried to a fragrant heap of disarray, just exploding textures of various tastes waiting to be discovered.
Song Zhou Luo Bo Gao: #01-18, Bedok Interchange Food Centre, 207 New Upper Changi Road, Singapore 460207 | Tel: 64446440 | Opening Hours: 6.30am -8pm , Closed Sun
2. 炒菜头粿 Fried Carrot Cake @ Clementi Food Centre
Yes, this stall’s signage is simply labelled ‘炒菜头粿 Fried Carrot Cake’. It’s sign board carries such big words of them that it is impossible to miss it. Another thing that will help you spot this carrot cake stall is the super long queue that will obviously catch your attention. Just a short walk away from Clementi MRT and bus interchange, this is one you have to try when in the area.
Their Black Carrot Cake ($2.50/$3), is out of the world. Even my parents love it. I had mine dabao-ed home for my folks to share. Soft, hot chunks of radish cakes that almost-burn your mouth, enjoy it with chewy egg bits. Psst, I heard that they are usually sold out by 12pm, or earlier.
Fried Carrot Cake: Clementi Food Centre; Block 448 Clementi Ave 3 #01-45 Singapore 120448 | Opening Hours: 7am till sold out, typically closed on Monday.
3. 菜頭粿 Carrot Cake @ Chomp Chomp
Yes, another stall with the mere Carrot Cake words on them, just like the days before branding existed in Singapore’s hawkers. Simple, but enough to capture the attention of hungry patrons craving for a good plate of carrot cake.
Their White Carrot Cake ($3/$4) is more worth having than the black. It is fried until crisp and fragrance attained. It is said that their secret recipe gave their carrot cake an extraordinary flavour which is unique only to them. Not only that, they actually add prawns in to further bring out the flavour. Both thumbs up.
Carrot Cake: 20 Kensington Park Road, Chomp Chomp Food Centre #01-36 Singapore 557269| Opening Hours: Daily 17:30-00:00, Closed on Alternate Tuesday
4. 福顺菜头粿 Hock Soon Carrot Cake
Located at the temporary site situated across the road of the Ghim Moh Food Centre, is home to many stalls of delicious local food fare including Hock Soon. While the main Ghim Moh Food Centre is under renovation and will be reopened anytime before the end of 2015, residents flock to this temporary site to experience the good food there.
Notice that almost all the stalls are reusing their old signboards from the previous location, and not all stalls have shifted together, thus explains why the unit numbers are all jumbled up. This stall is facing the main road/bus stop.
The White Carrot Cake ($2.50/$3), radish cake was slightly soft but made it very easy to chew. Fragrance was mild, but the sweet radish bits and crispy layer of the eggs made up for it. Recommended to add chilli.
Hock Soon Carrot Cake: Ghim Moh Temporary Food Centre; Ghim Moh Road Singapore | Opening Hours: Daily, 09:00 till late, Closed Monday
5. 福明熟食 Fu Ming Cooked Food
With great consistency in the sizes of each radish cake, it is also equally important that seasonings are added adequately without overpowering the entire carrot cake. I like how Fu Ming Cooked Food’s uncle fries the carrot cake till small bits of charred surfaces appear and it gives you that twist in caramelized flavour and texture when eating this.
Fu Ming Carrot Cake: Blk 85 Redhill Lane, Redhill Food Centre #01-49 Singapore 199583 | Opening Hours: Daily 12:00 till late
6. Ghim Moh Carrot Cake
This is the famous and popular carrot cake at Ghim Moh Food Centre, before plans of moving over to the temporary site happened. They have since relocated at ABC Brickworks for almost more than a year now. Run by a loving couple, the auntie still remembers me as a regular patron since the Ghim Moh days.
Black Carrot Cake ($2.50/$3) were sweeter than most I have tried, probably due to the generous amount of dark soy sauce added. Radish bits were slightly salty but it brought a good contrast against the sweetness from the dark soy sauce in my opinion. Spring onions were a tad dry but gave a good crunch, and the carrot cake was not altogether too greasy.
Ghim Moh Carrot Cake: ABC Brickworks Food Centre; 6 Jalan Bukit Merah #01-140 Singapore 150006 | Opening Hours: Daily till 9pm, Closed Monday
7. 海盛菜頭粿 Hai Sheng Carrot Cake
Most carrot cake stalls do both black and white variants of the dish, Hai Sheng only fries it white (with egg). It is said that they make their own carrot cakes from hand, which is applaudable, really, and they are sufficiently moist so you can swallow the goodness easily. Smaller chunks of the radish cake are fried with the usual (and really generous) ingredients.
Their White Carrot Cake ($2/$3/$4) are really popular and demands a long queue. The egg covering the dish is really crispy and good, and they also ensure every piece of cake is consistently covered with the flavoured seasoning. Wow.
Hai Sheng Carrot Cake: Blk 724 Ang Mo Kio Ave 6, Market and Food Centre, #01-09 Singapore 560724 | Opening Hours: 8am till evening
8. Bukit Merah View Carrot Cake
Black Carrot Cake ($2.50/$3) is a must order here The uncle was very generous with the eggs that it covers the radish cake so well with that crisp on the side. It was a regular scene where my family and I would do lunch here, and a must to order this dish each time I pay a visit to this food centre.
Radish cake had a springy texture, which many of us deems as QQ (bouncy). It was mildly oily which helped me not getting that overly sick greasy feeling. Chili was added but it was not as spicy enough as it looks hot. Feel free to request your preferences to the hawker uncle, he’s really nice.
Bukit Merah View Carrot Cake: 115 Bukit Merah View #01-279 Singapore 150115 | Opening Hours: Daily 07:00-14:00;18:00 till late
9. Hong Heng Fried Carrot Cake
White Carrot Cake ($2.50/$3) was my order because because I like how it tastes more balanced than it’s counterpart black version here. Oh, they don’t usually place a piece of leaf on the bottom but I requested for one anyway for better visuals.
Portion was okay, radish cake springiness was adequately done, but towards the softer scale. Topped with spring onions that were so fresh it tasted like it was just cut open, which cuts through the oiliness of the dish giving it that refreshing fragrance over the heavy flavours.
Hong Heng Fried Carrot Cake: Blk 216 Bedok North Street 1 Food Centre #01-71 Singapore 460216 | Opening Hours: Daily 10:00 till sold out
10. 合眾菜頭粿 He Zhong Carrot Cake
The carrot cake at He Zhong is a hit with frequent and new patrons alike. The food centre at Bukit Timah is fully packed with lunch goers and dinner crowds, because there’s so much good variety here. I’m always naking a beeline to this stall for their White Carrot Cake ($2/$3/$5), having stayed just a street away from this thriving place – needless to say most of my dinners are had here.
I had always wondered why there’s such a long queue, until I tried it for myself. Radish cakes were softly moist, well covered with the egg crust which was slightly charred. Everything is held together well and the chunks won’t fall off your chopsticks as you hold them up. Not too oily as well which made me felt less guilty.
He Zhong Carrot Cake: 51 Upper Bukit Timah Rd, Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre Singapore 588172 | Opening Hours: Daily 07:00-22:00
11. Soon Lee Heng Carrot Cake
Ordered Soon Lee Heng’s Black Carrot Cake ($2.50/$3). Very, very fragrant I must admit. Extremely generous portion too, compared to the ones by others of the same price. Eggs were chunky and it complimented the radish cakes well with it’s not overly salty nature.
I requested for chilli, which to my surprise, I actually bit on bits of dried shrimps marinated in spicy chilli. It is more commonly known as Heibi Hiam, which is actually something I love to find from chilli sauces. Probably one of my favorite carrot cakes especially with such effort in the chili.
Soon Lee Heng Carrot Cake: West Coast Food Centre; 726 Clementi West St. 2 #01-180 Singapore | Opening Hours: Daily, 8am till late.