Cheap & Good

Cheap & Good: Sweet soup worth slurping up at Xi Le Ting

The desserts, which include (clockwise from above left) red bean soup, cheng tng and green bean soup, cost 90 cents a bowl.
The desserts, which include (clockwise from above left) red bean soup, cheng tng and green bean soup, cost 90 cents a bowl.ST PHOTO: YIP WAI YEE

At Xi Le Ting, a traditional Chinese dessert stall at Commonwealth Crescent Food Centre, a granny in her 70s has been making sweet soup using the same recipes for almost half a century.

There are four types on offer here: green bean soup, red bean soup, cheng tng and sweet wheat porridge - all served hot and at 90 cents a bowl.

A friend who grew up in the area introduced the place to me, having patronised the stall since she was a child. Back then, the stall was housed at the now-defunct Commonwealth Avenue Food Centre.

She spoke of how afraid she has always been of the grumpy stall owner, but would keep returning because the offerings are homey and good.

When I visited the stall on a quiet weekday afternoon, the petite lady, hunched over the counter as she separated and counted her coins, looked a little annoyed when I interrupted her to place my order.

She attended to me in a brusque manner, but eventually broke into a slight smile when I told her that I had come on the highest recommendation.

My favourite is the fragrant green bean soup, which is cooked with sago and coconut milk. The mung beans are cooked down to a pulp, so each spoonful tastes smooth and creamy.


    02-70 Commonwealth Crescent Market & Food Centre, 31 Commonwealth Crescent; open: 11am to 7pm daily

    Rating: 3.5/5

The texture of the red bean soup, on the other hand, is completely different. The beans are whole and distinct and are boiled in a translucent, watery soup.

I usually prefer my red bean soup thick and grainy, but this is a good alternative, given the stuffy heat of the hawker centre.

For those looking for something refreshing, the cheng tng would be the best option. It is sweet without being cloying and is filled with white fungus, dried longan, barley as well as a slice of dried persimmon.

My judgment may be somewhat clouded, knowing that the desserts here are cooked by a granny dressed in traditional samfoo, no less - but they sure taste like nostalgia in a bowl.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 27, 2017, with the headline 'Sweet soup worth slurping up '. Subscribe