Last Updated: September 14, 2020
I remember coming across One Kueh At A Time on my Instagram feed earlier this year. Intrigued by their unique take on traditional Teochew kuehs, I immediately contacted owners Nick and Karen to check if their new location at Pandan Loop was opened for business.
I was welcomed with a reply from Nick inviting me to visit after they had settled down. Fast forward four months and one ‘Circuit Breaker’ later, and I finally got to taste Nick’s long-awaited hand-made soon kuehs.
Travelling from Punggol, it took me approximately 2 hours to reach One Kueh At A Time. Guided by my Google map, I alighted bus 285 only to find myself amid a sea of industrial buildings. Doubts and uncertainty suddenly kicked in; am I at the right place?
One Kueh At A Time is nestled within the premises of Lim Chee Guan’s Factory. Located at level one, the entrance to the eatery is bereft of a signboard, with just a little sticker by the push button on the glass door stating “Press and hold for One Kueh”. This is probably Singapore’s best kept soon kueh secret.
But behold; beyond the glass door is a high-ceiling air-conditioned space—a welcome respite from the heat of Pandan Loop. A row of floor to ceiling windows flooded the space with light every which way you look, giving it a sense of space that’s expansive and, in some ways, comforting.
Raw, unfinished, factory-like sensibilities set the tone—a setting befitting the area One Kueh At A Time is situated in. The cafe showcases the use of utilitarian materials such as wood and cement coming together as one alongside their eclectic range of furniture—a curious mix of family heirlooms and hand-downs from their previous location.
One Kueh At A Time specialises in soon kueh. Here, Nick and Karen manually wrap their kuehs by hand using Nick’s family recipe. Original Soon Kueh aside, the cafe also serves up a range of unique renditions such as the Bak Kwa Soon Kueh and Smoked Chicken Soon Kueh.
I started off with the Original Soon Kueh (S$1.60), a classic that’s filled with a savoury mix of turnips and black fungus. Shaped beautifully like Japanese gyoza, the smooth and translucent skin beamed under the reflection of sunlight as it was placed on my table.
Thin, yet chewy with a resilient bite, the skin retained every bit of moisture making them very easy to devour. Every piece of the soon kueh was generously filled with turnips, bursting with mild pepper. The best part of this was the contrast between the gummy-like skin and crunchy filling. Pop one, no, maybe 10 to be satisfied.
With a fiery red filling glowing under the crystal-like skin, One Kueh At A Time’s Bak Kwa Soon Kueh (S$2.50) was one which I approached with caution. “Why is this bak kwa so red?”, I thought to myself.
Only later did I realise that instead of using radish, beetroot is used in their Bak Kwa Soon Kueh. As a result, the filling was not as crunchy and dry as compared to the rest. The little red dynamite exploded with flavours in my mouth; smoky-sweetness from the bak kwa together with hints of earthiness from the beetroot. An interesting combination which at the same time is strangely familiar.
When placing your order at the counter, you will see bottles of hae bee hiam on sale. A recipe from Nick’s friend’s mother, the hae bee hiam is also incorporated into their Sar Niah’s Hae Bee Hiam Soon Kueh (S$2.50).
As much as I enjoyed One Kueh At A Time’s radish filling, I felt that the hae bee hiam was a bit too overwhelming for this soon kueh. The natural sweetness from the turnips got lost in the strong umami taste of the dried shrimps. It would have fared better with a little more spice to bring the oomph factor of the filling.
Smoked Chicken Soon Kueh (S$3) is their latest addition to the family. If vegetables alone are unable to satisfy, the Smoked Chicken Soon Kueh will do the job. Mixed in between the turnip filling are tender shreds of wok-smoked chicken—a flavour that will suit both the young and old.
Every bite of this moreish soon kueh was immaculate tasting. The sweetness of the turnips went hand-in-hand with the savouriness of the chicken. Together with the Classic Soon Kueh and the Bak Kwa Soon Kueh, this is a must-try trio when you visit One Kueh At A Time.
“We believe that Singaporeans are foodies who will travel for food,” said Karen when I questioned their decision to move to Pandan Loop.
Indeed, with the top quality soon kuehs One Kueh At A Time is selling, there is no doubt that fans and regulars will make trips from the other side of our island just for a plate of these hand-made kuehs.
It might be a bit of a chore making your way there, but once you reach the cafe, sit down and take your time to savour their kuehs—it will be worth it. Do be reminded that Nick and Karen only produce a limited amount of kuehs a day, so you’ve got to WhatsApp them for reservations to ensure that your trip is not a wasted one.
Expected Damage: S$3.20 – S$6 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
One Kueh At A Time
230 Pandan Loop, #01-K1, Singapore 128415
230 Pandan Loop, #01-K1, Singapore 128415