Mary’s Corner, East Coast Road

If Chee Kong Cheah’s Chicken Rice War was ever set in reality, Katong would be the perfect setting.

After all, it is already home to feuding Katong laksa stores, each which have cutouts of Japanese food magazine reviews stuck on their front doors; and feuding Tau Kwa Pau stores. I bet if I squint hard enough, or rather, just walk down East Coast Road, I’m sure I’ll find more food feuds. This afternoon, my colleagues and I decided to have lunch at Ali Baba Eating House. While awaiting my colleagues to place their order, every other table I spotted had what looked like Tahu Telor (which is an Indonesian dish) to me, and it pipped my curiosity. When I went up to the store, I realized, it was, in fact, Tau Kwa Pau. I was admittedly disappointed, but nevertheless proceeded to order it anyway, since it looked popular.

Tau Kwa Pau, which means stuffed beancurd in Teochew and Hokkien, is a Teochew Nonya dish, in what can only be described as the lovechild of Kueh Pie Ti, which is a Nonya savory tart topped with stewed turnip and carrot, and Ngoh Hiang, which refers to the five spices used to season certain Hokkien dishes. Tau Kwa Pau is made up of fried beancurd, and stuffed with three types of fish cakes, bacon bits, diced boiled eggs, diced cucumber and fried shredded yam cake.

What you get is an exciting contrast of tastes and textures, which to be honest, was just weird.

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