What a way to start the day: Breakfast in Toa Payoh

Dieticians say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

I woke up this morning, squinting against the glare from the window and wondered what would be the perfect food for the day’s most important meal. The answer came almost naturally – breakfast at the Toa Payoh market. Toa Payoh in general has some good hawker food. I love taking my friends to revisit all the hidden gems I discovered during the 6 years I worked in the area.

This morning, the only other person up at 7am was my brother. He’s always regarded breakfast with great importance, so he eagerly accepted my offer of a ‘traditional Singaporean breakfast tour’. This was our ‘itinerary’:

First, to cleanse and refresh the system – a glass of sugar-cane juice, freshly squeezed between 2 fat rollers, sweet and icy cold.

Next: To indulge the senses and awaken those tastebuds (and overdose on your body’s daily fat requirement) – some pan-fried ‘chai tao guay’ cake (which is actually a sort of turnip cake). The lady who runs the stall lovingly cooks it on a giant pan, until the outside is golden crisp, and then smears it with chilli, so that it looks…well sort of like the picture below… This means a 30 min wait, especially when there’s a breakfast crowd, but damn it’s good! Even my self-confessed chai tao guay-connesieur brother agreed. The stall is only open weekend mornings, but during the week they remain open through lunch as well.

The mixture of turnip and egg is soft and fluffy, their texture contrasting wonderfully with the crunchy bits of ‘chai po’, that are liberally sprinkled over.

This plate of black chai tao kuay came for the guy with whom we shared the table . I secretly snapped a pix because it looked so good – the sweet black sauce all carmelised down to burnt crispy bits. According to our ‘neighbour’ it tasted pretty good too. Also a 30 min wait – from the other carrot cake stall.,

While waiting for the carrot cake to come: Distract yourself with all the other delights that the market has to offer. Like the small paos that are freshly made everyday. There are both savoury and sweet varieties

Yes…you don’t have to tell me what this resembles…

The pao fillings include the usual char siew, chicken, tao sa etc. They also make mini ‘khong bak’ (braised pork belly) paos which are really fun to eat if you like the big ones.

Lastly: To cleanse the palate and soothe the stomach, a snow-white bowl of porridge. This stall is very popular for their wide variety of porridge and mee suah.

I had a bowl with meatballs and ‘pei dan’ (century egg). The porridge itself is very tasty and oh so smooth. Perfect for dunking with crispy ‘you char kway’ (dough fritter). The only thing I don’t like is the ‘manufactured’ fried onions – which, to me, is one of the biggest food travesties.

This market also houses my favourite fishball noodle stalls of ALL time. The noodles are cooked to just the right texture and coated with a mouth-watering vinegar and chilli sauce. Their fishballs are bouncy and have a lovely bite. And the owner’s brother, who serves, is pretty cute and never forgets a customer’s face (service with a smile rarely seen at hawker centres). It’s not on the itinerary because sadly, I had no more room after all that ‘chai tao kuay’, paos and porridge. Moral of the story, the more people you go with the more food you get to eat!

Lorong 1 Toa Payoh Block 127 Market & Food Centre
Open daily for breakfast and lunch (dinner-time stalls may differ)


About Mizdee

Food, food, food. Apart from love, it's the other thing that makes the world go round. When I'm sad it's a comfort, when I'm happy it's a celebration and when I'm not hungry, it's just greediness. But hey! Why not? Life is short too pass up a good meal.

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