Hong Pancake, Old Airport Rd: “These Min Jiang Kueh are so worth the trip”

Hong Pancake 8

I’m not a morning person, though I try very hard to be. I’ve read all the literature extolling the joy and countless inherent benefits of greeting the sun or whatever. The CEOs do it, the athletes do it, but I only do it when there are pancakes or min jiang kueh worth going down to the coffee shop in your pyjamas, bleary-eyed and fighting with the aunties who already know the secret joys a place like Hong Pancake brings.

If you haven’t felt the stone-cold disappointment of going to a hawker stall to find out that they are already packing up for the day (at 9.40 am, no less!), I sincerely hope you never will. Hong Pancake is no stranger to turning people down, and after the first time, I decided I never want to feel that way again.

Hong Pancake is what some people in the upper echelons of the food world might call ‘rustic’ and an apt description indeed. It sits comfortably at the corner of Block 21 of Old Airport Road at a bustling coffee shop that is a whole poetically messy cacophony of sounds in the early blue of the morning.

There’s the uncle to the right of Hong Pancake clanking out plates of greasy chai tow kway, the oily smoke billowing from his seasoned wok. This is interjected by calling of orders across all different dialects coupled with a glorious mingling of smells that makes breakfast such an exciting time of day.

Yes, noisy if you’re in the throes of a deep slumber but a heartening scene that reminds me that despite Ms Rona, our hawker culture is still as strong and as boisterous as ever.

What I tried

Unlike most places that prepare a huge pancake and cut it up to different pieces at Hong Pancake, it is a made-to-order, a la minute affair.

Hong Pancake 7

There are four golden pans continually filling up with pancake batter followed closely by perfectly toasted ones sliding off. I’m cautioned of the waiting time, but I’ve stood in line for those overrated BAKE cheese tarts as well as at two-hour lines for a two-minute ride at Disneyland—this is nothing. I’m good, and I’m ready.

As you can imagine, I was not about to let this opportunity slip by and like the cat who got the cream; I went home with a total of four pancakes. I would like to think of myself as the patron saint of the avant-garde and someone who embraces the new with gusto but with min jiang kueh, I’m a strait-laced Mrs Grundy. No funky flavours, please. Which is why the Peanut (S$1) pancake is the only one you need to concern yourself with.

Hong Pancake 4

Crispy edges but with a thick, chewy centre, the pancake revealed a delicate balance of textures that was so simple but oh-so-elegant. Now, the filing is the other half of the equation and what you get here is the freshest peanuts, coarsely ground with sandy sugar pieces that give you that satisfyingly delightful crunch as you bite down. It’s hard to not to wolf this down à la greedy little munchkin style.

Hong Pancake 1

Besides peanut, the other flavour that serves as an excellent barometer to how much you are going to like the rest of the stall’s bakes is the Coconut (S$1.20). The shade of a Stabilo highlighter, I’ll never tire of how the shredded coconut takes on an almost fluorescent hue when liberal lashing of jaggery sugar is added.

Hong Pancake 2

With ingredients as humble as these, there is almost no room for error. Use a cheaper brand of coconut, and you won’t get that nutty fragrance; a generic brand of sugar will be sweet, yes, but like an overplayed pop song, there’s no complexity.

It’s safe to say that there is a reason Hong Pancake sells out a mere two hours after they open—they don’t scrimp on ingredients.

Hong Pancake 6

From the savoury selections, I was truly impressed by the Cheese (S$1.80) pancake that made me question where this pancake was all my life. You’ll have to appreciate the little dusting of sugar that made this taste all the more nostalgic and old-school.

Final thoughts

Like many things in life that are worth waiting for, Hong Pancake is an exercise in patience and perseverance. Few things make one crawl out of bed with a barely made-up face and an outfit that can’t even be excused by Singaporean standards but, my oh my Hong Pancake you are so worth the trip.

Expected Damage: S$1 – S$2.50 per pax

Price: $

Our Rating: 5 / 5

Hong Pancake

21 Old Airport Road, #01-111, Singapore 390021

Our Rating 5/5

Hong Pancake

21 Old Airport Road, #01-111, Singapore 390021

Operating Hours: 7.30am - 10am (or until sold out) (Tue to Sun), Closed on Mon

Operating Hours: 7.30am - 10am (or until sold out) (Tue to Sun), Closed on Mon