Chai Ho, Clementi: “The satay peanut sauce is the elixir that delivers”

Whenever I’m gallivanting through Clementi Town on my Art Friend and NTUC shopping runs, I will cut through a short covered walkway connecting Clementi 448 Market & Food Centre and Block 449. It’s always a hassle to get through this spot, because of the constant line of people standing under the shelter.

Try shouldering your way through a queue of irritable aunties and uncles jealously guarding their spots in line—you’d think they’d been forced to stand there. 

Tracing back to the start of the line is the life of the party and you’ll find Chai Ho Satay, the bustling epicentre of activity that attracts a queue so long that it snakes through the walkway and runs along the corridor of the opposite block. 

You know what they say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I make plans to find out what’s compelled all the aunties and uncles to line up like soldiers in front of this stall. 

Chai Ho Satay 12

A quick Google search tells me that Chai Ho is open from 10.30am, so I make plans for a satay brekkie.  I get there to find the stall lit up but bereft of any queue, which should already tell me something isn’t right. The moment I approach, the stall uncle gruffly tells me that the satay won’t be ready till 3pm. 2pm, if I want it raw. Raw? I want a hot barbecued breakfast!

But it’s cool; not like I’m hangry or anything. I’m not deterred. The auntie in me reports back to Chai Ho at 3pm sharp that same day, and already there are five people standing in line. It takes a patient 35 minutes, but determination gets me my breakfast-turned-lunch.

Chai Ho Satay 1

What I tried 

Pork satay, chicken satay and ketupat (or rice, as they simply call it here) are the three main items to grace the dine-in menu here. For bulkier take-home buys, they also sell Dried Pork (bak kwa) (S$42), Pork Floss (S$42) and that raw satay (S$0.36 per stick) that so scandalised me earlier. 

A minimum of 10 sticks is required for every satay purchase, but they’re not fussy if you want to mix the type of meat. 

Chai Ho Satay 3

The Pork Satay (S$0.45 per stick) is reliably charred, with a balance of savoury and sweet that assures you that this stall knows what they’re doing. Dunk it in peanut sauce for a generous dollop and tear it off the stick. Little bits of fat add spots of gelatinous texture to the meat. 

Chai Ho Satay 11

The Chicken Satay (S$0.45 per stick) has the same delicious sweet charred exterior, sans the fatty meat. 

Chai Ho Satay 8

I much prefer the way it tears off in strips compared to the pork that is sometimes a little tough to bite off the skewer. In fact, in classic ex-vegetarian-reborn-satay-eater fashion, my first bite of Pork Satay came off so violently that some peanut sauce landed on my camera.

Imagine the condescending judgement of the aunties and uncles in the queue as I cleaned up the mess at my table right in front of the stall. I wouldn’t know, because I was fervently avoiding all eye contact.

Chai Ho Satay 6

Moving on to safer territory, the Rice (S$0.70 per piece) comes in the form of ketupat, which is a rice dumpling packed in a diamond-shaped woven palm leaf pouch. I wasn’t very impressed by the rice here, which I found a little hard and undercooked.

Chai Ho Satay 13

The rice dumpling comes in pre-cut bite-sized cubes, so I could simply skewer them with the satay sticks and eat with peanut sauce. Even then, the delish peanut sauce wasn’t enough to save it from undercooked blandness.

So, let’s move on and talk about the peanut sauce instead, which I think is worth a special mention for carrying the whole meal.

Chai Ho Satay 4

Photographing the peanut sauce was difficult as I tried to capture its texture accurately without letting the sheen on the surface get in the way. Only after a few tries did I realise that there was just that much oil in the sauce, which was precisely what made it so delicious. Even with chunks of peanuts to crunch on, this sauce still manages to achieve a smooth mouthfeel. Sinful, perhaps, but nobody comes here to be a saint. 

Final thoughts

Sure, the satay packs a load of flavour alone, but the peanut sauce is the elixir that delivers. And that, everyone, is what has gotten our aunties and uncles, and hopefully you now, in a smitten column in front of Chai Ho. 

Chai Ho Satay 2

Just remember, they may be open from 10.30am, but you’ll only get the Dried Pork and Pork Floss then. The full party starts at 3pm, so move fast and get in line (unless you want raw satay, then you do you, get there at 2pm). 

Expected Damage: From S$5.20 per pax

Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Chai Ho

448 Clementi Avenue 3, Clementi 448 Market & Food Centre, #01-10, Singapore 120448

Our Rating 4/5

Chai Ho

448 Clementi Avenue 3, Clementi 448 Market & Food Centre, #01-10, Singapore 120448

Operating Hours: 10.30am - 8.30pm (Wed to Sun), Closed on Mon & Tue

Operating Hours: 10.30am - 8.30pm (Wed to Sun), Closed on Mon & Tue