Charcoal Traditional Toast, Sin Ming: “One of the most underrated kaya toast gems of Singapore”

There’s perhaps no more iconic breakfast for Singaporeans than kaya toast with its unmistakably fragrant burst of pandan flavour, the blissful texture of the toast, and the kopi and eggs that so perfectly supplement the basic ensemble. While places such as Tong Ah and Heap Seng Loong have gotten plenty of limelight in recent times, there’s one kaya toast institution that has gone under the radar of kaya toast enthusiasts—Charcoal Traditional Toast at Sin Ming.

Located in the same famous coffee shop that the legendary Sin Ming Roti Prata was once housed in, this is a stall that is easily missed out by many people who make the journey down to Sin Ming for a sinful slice of prata dough.

Charcoal Traditional Toast

What separates this seminal throwback to the golden age of Singaporean hawkers is in their stubborn refusal to abandon their time-honoured charcoal grill preparation—hence the self-explanatory name of Charcoal Traditional Toast, though some might know it by its name of ‘Sen Yen’, instead.

Honestly, there’s nothing cooler than watching someone stick to their guns and churning out slice after slice of kaya toast using the intense smoke out of the charcoal grill. There’s something about these age-old practices that really invokes a sense of nostalgia and romanticism for the old souls in us.

What I tried

You won’t find a huge assortment of choices while looking through Charcoal Traditional Toast’s menu. There’s the humble and familiar Traditional Toast (S$0.70/slice) that most people would happily go for and there’s also a more unique French Toast (S$0.70/slice) if you prefer something that’s a slight departure from the style that most of us would be familiar with.

Charcoal Traditional Toast 2

With how scant the menu is, I just went ahead and ordered everything on the menu. Coming in at just S$5.20 in total, this was a pretty filling meal that was easily worth its price. If you’re looking for a satisfying and comforting meal with all the fixings of the quintessential Singaporean breakfast.

As far as kaya toast goes, this is perhaps one of the most underrated places in Singapore—there aren’t many places still serving Traditional Toast still using charcoal as the basis of flavour in this timeless Singaporean classic.

Charcoal Traditional Toast 3

Their commitment to these methods is the difference maker which infuses the slices of bread with the most intoxicating aroma of charcoal smoke while keeping the bread immaculately soft almost like mounds of cloud.

While the kaya didn’t have anything special that essentially set it apart from most other popular kaya toast hotspots in Singapore, it was definitely a blend that was generously exuberant in its pandan fragrance while being nicely smooth and not too cloying. The smooth, silky touch of butter just elegantly elevated everything.

french toast

Conversely, the French Toast was a change of pace from the commonplace kaya toasts you can find. Charcoal Traditional Toast’s idea of French toast is wildly different from what most people think of when they hear the words.

The “French” aspect of this toast comes from the use of baguette instead of what you’d expect in the form of the fluffy, eggy, pan-fried brunch classic you’d commonly find at the various brunch spots all around. If you appreciate a more boisterous crunch, the crust will certainly satisfy.

kopi C

If you’re hoping to find a slick new coffee alternative to the modern cafes in the vicinity, this probably won’t impress any speciality coffee lovers. The Kopi C (S$1.20) at Charcoal Traditional Toast was enjoyably potent while not being too acidic, while the Soft-boiled Eggs (S$1.20) boasted of nice jammy yolks—it wasn’t particularly something that would impress anyone.

Final thoughts

As a place that’s just the most classic representation of the ultimate Singaporean breakfast, Traditional Charcoal Toast is a place that will make most of us feel a surge of heart-warming nostalgia.

soft boiled eggs

Is this the best place for kaya toast in Singapore? Maybe not. If you prefer the wafer-thin crisp that the likes of Ya Kun provide this probably wouldn’t be what you’re looking for. But if you like your bread soft like pillow cushions, you’ll find heaven here.

Expected damage: S$3 – S$5.20 per pax

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Price: $

Our Rating: 5 / 5

Charcoal Traditional Toast

24 Sin Ming Road, Jin Fa Kopitiam, #01-51 , Singapore 570024

Our Rating 5/5

Charcoal Traditional Toast

24 Sin Ming Road, Jin Fa Kopitiam, #01-51 , Singapore 570024

Operating Hours: 7am - 9pm (Mon to Fri), 5.30am - 5pm (Sat & Sun)

Operating Hours: 7am - 9pm (Mon to Fri), 5.30am - 5pm (Sat & Sun)