Crispy wadeh udang
Even if you do not live anywhere near Ang Mo Kio, it is worth making your way to the Nenda’s Fritters outlet in the estate for crispy and airy wadeh udang (prawn fritters, $1 a piece).
The brand has two other outlets in Haig Road and Yishun. But owner Munah Abdullah, 47, says the Ang Mo Kio stall, located at Muslim-friendly coffee shop Kedai Kopi, serves up the best wadeh udang among the three outlets.
Despite all the outlets using the same recipe and ingredients, the human touch at the Ang Mo Kio stall is what makes the difference.
Here, head cook Aisha Ahmad, 56, prepares the wadeh udang and other fried snacks. The batter – a blend of plain flour and urad dal flour – for the prawn fritters is prepared in batches throughout the day and takes one hour to ferment each time.
It goes without saying that the snack is best eaten freshly fried out of the wok. The ones from Nenda’s Fritters stay reasonably crispy even for takeaway.
Each fritter has a crispy exterior with a fluffy interior that can be torn apart easily, and is crowned with a crunchy prawn with a firm texture. The shell is sufficiently crispy enough to bite into without overcooking the prawn meat.
Curry leaves lend a fragrant aroma.
The stall uses frozen sea prawns, which are thawed in small batches to retain a crunchy texture.
Each fritter comes with a light green finger chilli. The chilli is washed in small batches, then kept in the chiller for optimal crispness.
The best way to enjoy the snack is to alternate each bite of the wadeh with a bite of the chilli.
While the stall operates daily from 8am to 7pm, wadeh udang and pisang goreng (banana fritters, $2 for three pieces) are available only from 9am.
Ms Munah was selling fried snacks at pasar malams for some 20 years before the pandemic disrupted operations, prompting her to set up more permanent stalls. She started the first outlet in Haig Road in July 2021, followed by the Ang Mo Kio and Yishun ones in 2022.
Also made in-house is the pisang goreng. The recipe for the batter – a mix of rice flour and cornflour – comes from Ms Munah’s mother-in-law, who used to sell banana fritters.
The banana used is pisang kepok, which is flattened and sharply faceted. The pale flesh is sweet when ripe and complements the crispy crust perfectly.
Another popular snack is Lekor Majesty ($3 a pack). Each pack has around 10 pieces of the traditional fish sausage cracker from Terengganu. The sweet flavour of fish in the cracker comes through without any overwhelming fishy odour.
It is meant to be eaten with a chilli dip, which is prepared with tomato sauce and tastes sweet, tangy and spicy.
The miniature spiral-patterned curry potato puffs – Epok-epok Pusar ($2 for four) – are good too. Pusar refers to the spiral pattern of the pastry.
Though not made in-house, they are supplied by Ms Munah’s aunt, who runs a snack production factory in Johor Bahru. The curry puffs come raw and frozen, and are fried till golden brown at the stall.
The pastry is soft and flaky, and each puff is filled generously with curry potato that tastes sweet and spicy.
Where: 01-74 Kedai Kopi, 108 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4
Open: 8am to 7pm daily
Snacks with a homemade taste
Another snack stall that made the 40-minute drive I take to get there worth it is 2112 Snack Delight at Bukit Canberra Hawker Centre in Sembawang.
It has a rather limited menu, but owner Irene Pang’s housemade yam cake ($1.30 a piece) is the star here. Go for a double-portion block which costs $2.60 because it is that good.
The yam cake usually comes doused in sweet sauce, which I suggest you ask to omit as it blankets the taste of the yam cake.
What is special about this yam cake? It is chock-full of powdery yam cubes which are painstakingly cut by Madam Pang, 55.
Unlike factory-made yam cake, or even housemade ones which pulverise the yam such that you can hardly taste it, Madam Pang’s wobbly and tender version is made up of soft, starchy cubes of Thai yam.
Plenty of flavour and aroma come from the generous addition of thin strips of dried mushroom and minced dried prawn. It has that familiar taste of homemade goodness.
Madam Pang prepares her own fried shallots and adds her housemade shallot oil to the yam cake batter for a flavour boost.
Dig into the yam cake with her housemade sambal, packed with dried prawns, candlenuts, shallots, garlic, red onion and lemongrass. My only gripe is that the sambal’s sweetness level could be taken down a notch or two.
Another housemade snack worth the calories is the glutinous rice prepared by Madam Pang daily. Priced at $2 a plate for dine-in and $2.50 for takeaway (the portion is larger), the glutinous rice is flavoured with shallot oil, and is aromatic from the use of dried mushroom and dried prawn.
The rice, a caramel shade from the use of dark soya sauce, is delightfully tender yet chewy.
Madam Pang’s secret lies in the use of old glutinous rice, which she fries with the various ingredients before steaming for 1½ hours. Old glutinous rice has a harder texture and can withstand longer cooking times.
She prepares two trays of glutinous rice daily. The peanuts that garnish the rice are also fried in-house.
She used to sell breakfast items and snacks at the now-defunct Ji Li Eating House, a coffee shop in Kranji, from 2016 until June 2022, when the coffee shop was torn down.
After taking a break, she reopened at Bukit Canberra in November.
A popular item among her regular customers in Kranji is the prawn fritter ($1.80 a piece, $3.50 for two), made in the style of Chinese bean sprout fritters, except she does not use bean sprouts.
Instead, she packs her fritters with plenty of shredded Beijing cabbage, carrots and a small amount of Chinese celery for aroma. The batter is a mix of wheat flour and cornflour. Each fritter is topped with a medium-sized sea prawn.
Do not expect an Instagrammable moment with this fritter, but it is crispy with a soft yielding interior, and the vegetables lend plenty of crunch.
Where: 2112 Snack Delight, 01-42 Bukit Canberra Hawker Centre, 21 Canberra Link
Open: Thursdays to Tuesdays, 6am to 2.30pm, closed on Wednesdays