Think Singapore and a few iconic dishes come to mind.
Chilli crab, of course remains top spot, but another staple lingers in the minds of many: kaya toast. More than just a tourist must-eat (name one foreign celebrity that hasn’t said they wanted to try this while they were here), kaya toast is a classic breakfast menu that’s loved for its simplicity, not to mention the harmonious blend of sweet, toasty, and savoury textures and flavours all at once.
There are only three components to this nostalgic number: cold butter, kaya and bread.
Yet there are tons of variations that can be found. There are those who prefer their bread soft and fluffy, while others like theirs kissed by a charcoal grill for that oh-so-satisfying crunch. Some locales offer the sweeter gula melaka kaya spread, and traditional Hainanese joints tend to serve up a custard-like version that’s much more pandan-forward.
Besides old coffeeshops like Heap Seng Leong, this list also includes a version from Good Morning Nanyang Cafe that replaces white bread with orange ciabatta for a modern twist.
Beyond the ever dependable Ya Kun, here are six other spots to get the best kaya toast in Singapore from.
(Hero and featured image credit: Hungry Onion and @prunedfingers/Instagram respectively)
This story first appeared in Lifestyle Asia Singapore
Tong Ah Eating House may have moved out of the iconic red and white building to a couple of units down along Keong Saik Road, but the food here remains as delicious and modest as before. Diners usually get the Traditional Kaya Toast set, which comes with lightly charred kaya toast, two soft-boiled eggs, and a drink.
You’ll also find the elusive Kopi Gu Yu here, which is a strong cup of local coffee that’s topped off with a slab of butter. Instead of making it greasy, the butter creates a silky texture and heightens the caramelised notes from the coffee. Perfect with toast.
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Chin Mee Chin‘s recent reopening only means one thing: it’s time for us to head back for their super addictive kaya toast. Think a sweet, aromatic mix of handmade kaya slathered on fluffy, charcoal-roasted buns, complete with a thick, generous slab of butter to complete the dish.
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Besides the nostalgic Kopi Gu Yu, many come to queue at Heap Seng Leong for their kaya toast. Each serving is made to order, and the store owner leverages on his years of experience to make the charcoal-toasted bread both deliciously chewy and crispy at the same time. Best had after a quick dip in a saucer of soft-boiled eggs.
(Image credit: @prunedfingers via Instagram)
While you’ll be able to find the usual toasty kaya toast here at Ah Seng (Hai Nam) Coffee, we suggest a serving of their French Toast with Kaya. After being soaked in a generous amount of egg, each slice is charcoal-grilled to golden perfection. The French toast is then slathered with kaya and cold butter before being served with even more handmade kaya on the side.
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Picture this: smooth, silky butter, a delightfully addictive homemade kaya, and thin, warm, and toasty slices of bread — that’s how kaya toast is served here at Keng Wah Sung. The humble establishment serves up a mean cup of Nanyang Kopi too, so you best believe that’s what we’re dipping our toasts into. If you’ve fallen in love with their kaya, you can always buy a bottle home too.
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We might be cheating a little with this recommendation from Good Morning Nanyang Cafe. Located on the second floor of Far East Plaza, the eatery serves its freshly-made kaya not with the usual white bread, but with orange ciabatta. Yes, that combination may seem a little odd, but the subtle citrus notes from the bits of orange zest makes for a refreshing, fragrant touch to the classic dish.
(Image credit: @dorimingo813 via Instagram)