It is getting tougher to find traditional Hakka food, especially in hawker centres. I guess the closest option would be Hakka lei cha fan (thunder tea rice).
While on a search for another stall at Shunfu Mart Food Centre off Upper Thomson Road, I chance upon Mei Zhen Hakka Delicacies.
The stall opened in the early 1980s at the now-defunct Lakeview Market & Food Centre along Upper Thomson Road, and has been at its current premises for almost 20 years.
Over the years, the Hakka delights are still made by hand, so I figure that this oldie must be a goodie.
Its Hakka version of soon kueh - known as soon ban ($1.20 a piece, minimum order of two pieces) - is the star. The thin skin is made with, among other ingredients, yam, which gives it a pliable and slightly chewy texture. Each piece has a generous filling of turnip, black fungus, dried shrimp and mushrooms. The turnip is cooked just right, tender but not too soft and with a slight crunch.
I take it back to the office and after about half an hour, the skin - though cold - is not hard and doughy, but still nicely chewy. No additional sauces are needed even though I normally douse the soon kueh I eat with sweet sauce and chilli - this one is tasty enough on its own.
MEI ZHEN HAKKA DELICACIES
Shunfu Mart Food Centre, Block 320 Shunfu Road, 02-26, tel: 9799-0397, open: 7am to 1pm (Wednesdays to Fridays), 7am to 2pm (weekends), closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
I also like the abacus yam ball or suan pan zi ($3.50, $6.80 or $12), which also has a chewy texture and is lightly peppery. It is slightly mushy when I eat it again in the office, but I can overlook that. After all, how often do I get to eat handmade abacus beads at this price?
Other menu items include glutinous rice ($2.20), yam cake ($2), chee cheong fun ($2), and yam porridge ($2). Yes, I realise it's quite a starch overload - so, like me, you have to pace yourself.
I see other diners ordering what I believe is the perfect double combo - two soon ban and a portion of chee cheong fun or yam cake. I do the same: Order that breakfast of champions, then start planning what to take away.