Paul and Alice Tan own Alice’s Makan, a Malaysian food stall in the CBD that doubles as a sweetshop and cake wholesaler.
Each cake – whether it’s pounded, rolled, baked or steamed – needs to be made by hand and served shortly after. And like many South East Asian cooking traditions, there are no sacred recipes, either. The chef knows the outcome they want and intuits their way to the finish line.
Since leaving Malaysia some 40 years ago, Alice has produced many different cakes, but one she’s always made is angkoo. It’s a cake traditionally reserved for weddings, birthdays and new year. Structurally it’s like ravioli, but with a thick, bright-red outer layer. Within is a crumbly mung-bean and peanut paste. Another favourite among Alice’s customers is serimuka, a dense but wobbly pandan and glutinous rice cake topped with a layer of salted coconut cream.
His char kway teow – a fried flat-noodle dish widespread in Malaysia as pad thai is in Thailand – is among the best you'll find in town. Traditionally it’s fried in pork fat with hunks of lard croutons, prawns, bean sprouts and chives. But most Malaysians will say a good one will be smoky, rich and hearty without being particularly intense in flavour. Just like this one.
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