This is the second blogpost in our series Singapore & Malaysia food trail 2013. Check out our previous blogpost in this series:
Mysaucepan and I are on a 3-week eating spree and will be blogging about our street food adventures with lots of photos and tweets about hawker favourites and local delights that will also cover Chinese New Year 2013 – The Year of the Snake.
We would love your feedback on which are the foods you love and would also welcome any suggestions and recommendations that we should try during our trip in Singapore and Malaysia.
“I used to deliver coffee and tea to all the offices around here when I first started in 1983. I don’t do it now because I’m getting older and my business is also more famous so customers now come to me instead.”
~ Mohamed Rafeek, Proprietor of Rafee’s Corner
The food and hospitality business is a people business.
In order to succeed, it’s not just about how good your food is but also about how you engage with your customers. Those customers who have been patronising your business for a long time will also eventually become your friends.
And even though it is my first time at Rafee’s Corner, a humble food stall serving ginger tea and all kinds of hot and cold beverages at Amoy street Food Centre, I am sure that I have made a friend in meeting its proprietor, Mohamed Rafeek.
Whenever I am in Singapore, I long for a local breakfast which I miss back home in Sydney.
So today, we sassy onto Amoy street Food Centre looking for a snack and stumble upon Mohamed Rafeek. Easy-going and affable, I believe this is the kind of trait that every small business owner needs to have.
“Sir, your kaya toast and eggs will be ready very soon” he reassures me with a smile.
There is something wholesome and honest about soft boiled eggs with a dash of light soy sauce and a sprinkle of white pepper that reeks of a South East Asian food experience.
You need to have this breakfast with a serve of kaya toast and butter in the early hours of a humid morning in Singapore or Malaysia to get its full effect.
The kaya toast at Rafee’s Corner is exactly what I have been yearning for since I arrived in Singapore yesterday – a slather of kaya or coconut jam and butter sandwiched by grilled white bread.
The heat from the toast is gently melting the kaya and butter. Each bite is crispy with a slight chew on the inside and the savoury sweet combination of the coconut jam and butter is truly heaven!
To me, this simple piece of toast is Asia’s answer to the best of French pastries.
And of course, the way to eat this breakfast is to dunk some of the crispy toast into a bowl of soft boiled eggs. Check out that gooey egg yolk, hello!!!
If you order the breakfast set which consist of kaya toast, two soft boiled eggs and coffee, it will set you back S$3.10 or A$2.60.
For anyone who has not tried this breafast before, let me tell you this simple meal is something you cannot miss whilst in Singapore.
A breakfast in South East Asia cannot be complete without a teh tarik or kopi tarik ~ tea or coffee prepared in the local tradition of a strong blend that is mixed with sweet condensed milk and then “pulled” by pouring the beverage from a height to create a frothy head on the top.
Although I am not a coffee drinker, Rafeek’s coffee makes me love Singapore and what it has to offer. It is not too sweet and has the beautiful and unmistakable aroma of local coffee.
Some people do find the “standard” teh tarik or kopi tarik to be too sweet in which case you can request for a little less of the sweet condensed milk by saying kurang manis – literally meaning “less sweet” in Bahasa.
“I have been to China and New York and this year, I am coming to Australia” Rafeek tells us as we sip on our coffee and teh halia or ginger tea.
“The Singapore Tourism Board wants to promote the best of Singapore’s hawker food and I am part of this promotion” he tells us enthusiastically.
“Good on you Rafeek” I tell him. “With coffee and tea this good, you are welcome in Australia anytime!” I add.
“My father started this business in 1958 and I took over in 1983” he tells us proudly.
“I used to deliver coffee and tea to all the offices around here when I first started in 1983. I don’t do it now because I’m getting older and my business is also more famous so customers now come to me instead” he adds.
I believe the Singapore Tourism Board is proud and active in promoting the best of its food and hospitality to the world and so it should. Why not share the best of what you have and let people from different cultures experience the tastes and flavours of Singapore’s local cuisine.
Rafeek tells us that he will be coming to Melbourne in October 2013 for the Singapore food festival where selected street vendors selling Singapore hawker-style food will congregate to showcase the best that Singapore has to offer. Rafeek will obviously showcase his skills in coming up with pulled teh tarik or kopi tarik among other items on his menu.
“Okay, you’re taking some photos for your food blog, let me comb my hair first” he says with a laugh.
“Don’t worry Rafeek, you’re looking very sharp and your teh tarik is awesome” I reply.
Thanks Rafeek for sharing your wonderful story with us and we will definitely be recommending your teh tarik and kaya toast to all our friends and family who might be coming to Singapore.
Your hospitality is heart-warming and your friendliness infectious.
Because of you, my stay in Singapore will be a lot more enjoyable. And we will be back.
Amoy street Food Centre
7 Maxwell road
Tel: +65 6221 4978 Mobile phone +65 9027 5131
Monday – Friday 6.30 am – 6.00 pm Saturday & Sunday 6.30 am – 2.30 pm
… Delivered by FeedBurner