The elusive Old Chang Kee restaurant
You won’t find a Singaporean who doesn’t know Old Chang Kee. A household name for curry puffs, you’ll catch the familiar whiff in every neighbourhood. What began as a small stall outside Rex Cinema in 1956, has astonishingly grown to a business with over 80 local outlets today.
But Old Chang Kee’s story doesn’t end there. Living up to its top brand status in this year’s Influential Brands awards, they’ve even ventured out and created an Old Chang Kee restaurant - Curry Times. Hidden in plain sight across the island, we dropped by the outlet at Changi Airport to check it out for ourselves.
Here’s the lowdown on what all Curry’O fans can expect!
Old school curry delights
Even in a hurry, no one should skip their curry selection. Concocted from the exact blend of spices and herbs found in your favourite Curry’O - a secret formula locked up in a bank safe.
A must try is their Curry Chicken ($8.50), which comes with a choice of rice, loaf, or plain prata. With succulent chicken and mushy potatoes simmered in a thick, mildly spicy curry base, we had zero complaints. No joke, we wiped the bowl clean with our soft bread within minutes.
Something that’s always a hit among mums, the Curry Fish Head ($29.90) easily makes for a feast. A gigantic pot kept piping hot by an electric cooker, the fragrant aroma of curry will kickoff those hunger pangs right away.
While the spices in the fish curry may be a tad overpowering, its generous portion of ingredients more than make up for it - dig into a chockful of meaty fish head and seasonal vegetables!
My favourite dish of the night - Sambal Chicken Super Drum Rice ($8.50) - consists of a whole chicken leg smothered with sambal chilli, a perfectly fried egg with an oozing yolk, and nonya achar. The chicken skin was undoubtedly the star - crisp and not too oily, adding the flavourful oomph to complete this simple dish.
Curry Times is more than your one-stop-shop for curry. Their menu includes non-spicy and vegetarian food options, as well as an array of nostalgic drinks and traditional desserts!
A surprise twist in drinks and desserts
From left: Bandung with Basil Seed, Coffee Chendol
I still drool at the thought of their Coffee Chendol ($4). The thick brew reminded me of those you’d find in the streets of Vietnam. Topped with shaved ice, red beans, attap seeds, and silky pandan jelly, it’s definitely worth your cheat day carbs. Of course, for those who prefer a lighter thirst-quencher, grab a cup of Bandung with Basil Seed ($3), a healthy alternative to bubble tea.
If you only have space for one dessert, go for the Bubur Cha Cha ($5), available hot or cold. Think twice before choosing to share it with your friends, because after one mouthful, you won’t want to stop. The rainbow-coloured sweet potatoes are more than a delight to the eyes, and go perfectly with the creamy coconut milk base.
No doubt overshadowed by its colourful sister, the Yam Paste with Gingko Nuts ($4) is visually unassuming, but it’s one of those dishes where simplicity shines through and conjures happy memories of growing up, especially for those from Teochew families.
A side of Singapore we like to remember
Overall, the feel of Curry Times shouts Singapore in the 70s; the space decked in traditional wooden tables and chairs, old-school calendars, and vintage tableware. Even old Chinese music played in the background.
And all in the Singaporean spirit, they didn’t leave out the freebies. Help yourself to as many of your favourite ice gem cookies as you want from a ginormous container!
Journeying through Old Chang Kee’s colourful creations
You can’t make a trip to Old Chang Kee without a piece of their curry puffs. While the puffs aren’t sold within Curry Times, the Changi Airport outlet houses a small stand next door so you can dabao as many puffs as you want after your meal. Keep a lookout for their limited edition coloured puffs available at Old Chang Kee stalls islandwide!
The beginning: Red Spicy’O
Making its grand entrance for Old Chang Kee’s coloured puff series, the Red Spicy’O ($1.80) was introduced during Chinese New Year earlier this year. Not like self-proclaimed spicy versions whose only kick is a kick in the nuts for the money you’ve wasted, this puff is so hot that it’ll leave a fiery sting in your mouth. We can’t wait till its return.
In stores now: Green Chicken Rendang’O
The Green Chicken Rendang’O ($1.80) boasts a unique rendang flavour. So refreshing that you could eat 5 of it and still not feel jelat! As with all Old Chang Kee puffs, tender chicken pieces and cube potatoes were bursting at the seams - nothing short of generous.
New: Black BBQ Chicken’O
New kid on the block - Black BBQ Chicken’O ($1.80) will introduce the first ever black puff into the scene. With pastry made from bamboo charcoal, it’s the healthier choice and no stains will be left on your teeth. The filling lathered in tangy barbecue sauce and black pepper bits almost makes it taste like a chicken pie. Keep a lookout for it from November to December!
The Old Chang Kee legacy
Keep your eyes open, for Old Chang Kee isn’t just an old name. They’ve expanded into the restaurant and cafe scene with Curry Times and other sub brands like Dip N Go and Bun Times; and are spicing up the game with innovative new flavours that you’re bound to fall in love with.
But don’t worry, even with their rise up to fame, their signature curry flavour still tastes the same!
About Old Chang Kee
Old Chang Kee started out as a small stall in a coffee shop near Rex Cinema in 1956. Since then, they’ve grown the business into the big league with over 80 outlets around Singapore today! While their signature curry puff still retains its original taste, Old Chang Kee’s offerings have expanded to include a wide variety of food products. Check out where your nearest Old Chang Kee outlet is here.
About Influential Brands
Influential Brands is a consumer insight driven awards programme which provides a platform for brands to celebrate their achievement; for consumers,, businesses and stakeholders to recognise the brands’ efforts in arriving where they are today. The study conducted by Influential Brands is purely consumer drive and the Top Brands are selected by consumers through their perception and preference, demonstrating the level of impact and influence of the brands in each consumer’s life.
Influential Brands seeks to identify consumer preferences, their behaviors, values and to understand how the ever-changing environment affects consumer experience in the purchase journey. The Programme is tailored to enrich the brands’ relationship with their consumers through ongoing meaningful conversations and engagement.
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This post is part of Influential Brands 2016, where we highlight the most influential brands in Singapore.