From croissants to cocktails, the golden salty yolk has become a favourite pairing in Singapore.
Yolks are yum. There’s no debate to egg on here. But try it the way the food loving populace of Singapore does it—on everything from macarons to ice cream—and it’s hardly a breakfast story anymore. If you haven’t heard of this trendy culinary excess, the salted egg yolk is a sweet and savoury golden sauce made of brined duck eggs, which has become something of a Singapore staple this past year.
So, of course, when I got the call to fly to the Lion City, the Merlion statue was the farthest thing from my mind. Instead, I found myself plotting a mission—to hunt down as many salted yolk delights as possible. Imagine my joy when, as I board our Scoot plane, I notice that it has the largest splash of yellow you will ever see at an airport. Clearly the Universe was giving me a go ahead.
Bulls eye beginnings
Hours after landing, I get my first runny yolk on the trip. An old-school bulls eye at the brand new Ibis Styles Singapore on MacPherson Road. As I swipe into my gorgeous room for the next couple of days, with a spectacular view of the pool below and ruler-straight traffic lines further in the distance, for a moment (a teeny one) the poke of the egg yolk takes a back seat.
Our guide thinks it appropriate that our first stop be a place close to home, Little India. Bollywood tunes blare, cell phone shops boast names like MGR Mobiles and gold jewellery showrooms are everywhere. No yolks, but it’s ok. As Mr Incredible says in the beginning of that movie, “I’ve got time.” Four days to be precise.
Hawking crab masala
I am sure I will find the answer to my yolk cravings at the Tekka Hawker Centre where we head for lunch. But after not one but two walk arounds that throw up everything from goose and duck rice to South Indian meals with crab masala served on a banana leaf, it is evident I’ll have to reroute my craving to something more traditionally local. So we settle for a delicious bowlful of laksa and chicken rice with chilled soy milk to wash it down.
Rose blossoms for tea
Heavy lunches call for a nap or a walk after. We pick the latter, to make the most of our trip, and end up on Haji Lane, home to indie designer stores, graffiti walls and adorable little cafés. We head into one called Shop Wonderland that has dried flowers on the walls, which also seems to inspire their patisserie selection. Dessert is a delectable slice of rose blossom cake with raspberry icing. As I polish this off, I feed my yolk obsession by asking the girl at the counter whether they can get me a fix. “Oh, we don’t have any,” she says. “But head over to Toast Box. I’ve tasted salted egg yolk there and it’s pretty good.”
Golden lava on toast
Our party of four really make an effort to find Toast Box. And we put off shopping at a premium Singapore mall in the bustling Bugis junction to do it. But when we do find it, there is just no question about lost opportunities—freshly made toast served with cold ‘kopi’ beats an evening of shoe shopping any day. I order the French toast oozing with a golden lava-style yolk that is sweet and rich. That first bite will be stuck in my memory and Instagram forever. The kaya topping, which is a delightful coconut and egg jam, come in as a close second.
The egg-cellent cocktail
Happy with the first taste of my yolk adventure, I return to my room to locate my next stop. I figure perhaps a bar would give me a glimpse of Singapore’s night life and throw up some new yolk experiences. So I set my sights on The World is Flat by Tanuki Raw, Shinkansen and Standing Sushi Bar, just 15 minutes away from my hotel on the much-talked-about Orchard Road. But not before I double check their yolk offerings. Founder Howard Lo promises a wide selection of favourites on the menu with a yolky twist, including chicken wings and a salted egg yolk char siew pork donburi.“At this point, every type of F&B business here has gotten in on the trend. Whether it’s a fast food or budget dining spot to a high-end eatery, everyone is doing something with salted egg in it. It’s also hit that saturation point where it’s starting to get some backlash, some of that, ‘oh man, not another salted egg yolk dish!’” he shares.As we get used to seeing chicken wings that are doused in something other than the usual BBQ sauce, we ask this food entrepreneur what the most unconventional dish he’s tasted a salty yolk with. He responds, “There’s a spot called Operation Dagger, at Ann Siang Hill, that serves a salted egg yolk cocktail. It hits the spot as it has a whole salted egg yolk in it. Plus the extra fun of the rum makes you feel happy.” How about that?
Other memorable highs in my food diary include the award-winning oven-baked spring chicken at the Mercure Bugis’ restaurant, Sauces, and a Mediterranean assortment that has me gobsmacked at a must-try dinner spot called Artichoke. But much shopping and market hopping later, my palate still leaves me wanting one final yolk experience. This time around, I look out for sweet instead of salty. And I find what I am looking for with the salted yolk ice cream at Tom’s Palette, run by husband and wife duo Chronos Chan and Eunice.
The story behind it is as interesting as the flavour. After falling in love with a salted egg custard bun in Hong Kong, they were inspired to translate the flavour into ice cream. Five years ago, Chronos remembers, “Everyone was sceptical, since no one could relate it to a dessert. But a month after the launch, it was in the newspapers and people came from all over for it. We’ve been selling it every day since then.” An egg yolk-infused ice cream may sound a bit off, but people say the flavour is the most perfect blend of sweet and salty. It gives caramel popcorn a run for its money.
The writer was invited by AccorHotels and Scoot.
By Sonali Shenoy