Eating satay is usually a cumbersome sit-down affair - you need to slice the ketupat (rice cakes), dip the skewered meat in the sauce and worry about dripping the sauce.
However, Leo Satay, a six-month-old stall in Ci Yuan Hawker Centre, has found a nifty way for customers to enjoy satay on the go.
The stall, housed in a spacious community club space in Hougang, serves a Satay Cup Set (right) that costs $2.80.
Think of it as satay served like an ice-cream sundae - it comes with five sticks of chicken or pork satay perched on a bed of ketupat cubes, and onion and cucumber slices, and soaked in luscious satay sauce, which fills up two-thirds of a plastic cup.
A trademark of Hainanese-style satay, the sauce is topped with a dash of zesty pineapple puree.
01-31 Ci YuanHawker Centre, Ci Yuan Community Club, 51 Hougang Avenue 9
Open: 3 to 10pm (Tuesday to Friday), noon to 10pm (weekend), closed on Monday
Rating: 3 stars
The Satay Cup is great for those with small appetites or those who prefer not to dip their satay in the communal sauce bowl.
The stall is an offshoot of wholesale supplier Leo Satay Foodstuff Manufacture, which supplies satay to eateries, hotels and catering companies.
The business started as a street hawker stall in the 1960s before relocating to hawker centres in the Upper Thomson and Lakeview estates.
These stalls have closed and Leo Satay has been focusing on its wholesale business since 1996. The satay recipe has been passed down over three generations and is now used in its central kitchen in Bedok North.
The tender but slender pieces of meat are richly flavourful, with a robust burst of spices such as five-spice, coriander, curry and chilli powder. Thirty ingredients are used in the marinade.
However, what are sorely missing from the satay are the charred bits and smoky flavour. This is probably because the stall assistants use electric-powered grills instead of charcoal ones.
The stall sells up to 4,000 satay sticks (50 cents for a stick, minimum order of 10 sticks) and more than 100 Satay Cups daily.
The satay sauce fares much better. It is chunky, viscous and generously studded with chopped nuts, which add more bite to the meat. The acidity of the pineapple puree cuts through the heaviness of the meat, making it seem less oily and cloying.
The stall also uses the satay sauce in its Bee Hoon Set ($2.80), which also comes with three sticks of satay. The intense nutty flavour of the sauce shines through the bland bee hoon, making it quite an appetising meal if you are feeling more than peckish.
With the mess of eating satay contained in a cup, the satay cup is such a convenient idea that I wonder why no one has thought of serving it at night markets.
Until then, this is where I am getting my satay snack fix.