The “Curry Pok”
Every Singaporean, heck even visitors and other residents here, have a special relationship with Old Chang Kee. From their iconic curry puffs (now called Curry O; us older folks just call it ‘curry pok’) to more than a dozen of other delights on sticks such as the sotong head, nuggets and fishballs, it was the de-facto place to get a snack when you have the munchies in between meals.
Old Chang Kee Coffee House @ Rex
More than 30 years after Old Chang Kee (OCK) boss Mr Han Keen Juan bought over the business from a unnamed Hainanese hawker back in 1986, the business finally had a Homecoming of sorts by taking over the entire coffee shop where their first ever OCK stall was along MacKenzie Road (junction of Niven Road). Mr Han recalls:
“I remember when there was not even sufficient space to stand on the inside of the shop to sell the curry puffs and I had to do it from the walkway. This very spot holds many memories for me and marks a full circle having grown Old Chang Kee the past 32 years to what it is today.” – Mr Han Keen Juan
Where It All Began
From a small corner stall in a coffee shop, Old Chang Kee Coffee House @ Rex now occupies the entire space that spans three shophouse units. Its old-school charm is jam-packed with lots of retro memorabilia like posters, chinaware and collectables!
From a humble stall to a central kitchen along Petain Road (I remember going past the area when I was a child and getting some olfactory satisfaction of curry puffs), and now having their own space at Woodlands, they ensure consistency to every single puff (pun intended) you take!
(Fun) Curry Times
Did you know that Old Chang Kee actually has a plethora of affiliated brands? You may be more familiar with Curry Times, their sit-down cafe brand, but there’s also Bun Times, and Dip ‘n’ Go, among others. At this coffee house, you get to enjoy signature delights from all these brands, some of which are exclusive to this store!
There’s the Flower Bread which consists of seven freshly baked, pull-apart buns. Nestled in the middle of the golden sesame-topped crust ‘flower’ is an enamel bowl filled with a choice of: Curry Chicken ($11.90); Chicken Stew ($11.90); or Beef Stew ($13.90). (we loved the curry chicken one best, no questions about that!) One good thing is, there’s FREE FLOW gravy, so no need to be shy when it comes to dipping!
Another menu exclusive is the Beef Stew Rice ($9.50) – a nod to Old Chang Kee’s Hainanese heritage. Served in a mess tin, it consists of rice topped with tender beef, radish and carrots redolent with the fragrance of spices. For a modern touch, diners can opt for the Baked Beef Stew Rice with Cheese ($10.90; we got this) which showcases melted cheese and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
If you’ve been to Curry Times you’ll also be familiar with their wide selection of local delights, such as the Dry Laksa Goreng ($8.50), Hainanese Chap Chye ($6.20), and a Curry Times’ special, Nasi Lemak with Dry Curry Chicken ($8.90) with tender, minced chicken coated liberally in curry spices paired with aromatic coconut rice and sides of tangy ‘achar’, fish cake, sambal chilli, fried peanuts and anchovies. You can then end the meal with a piping bowl of Bubur Cha Cha ($5.00)!
And of course, who could forget their signature skewers and fritters! For the uninitiated, try their Curry’O ($1.50) – curry spiced potatoes, chicken and an egg slice stuffed and sealed within a flakey, buttery crust. Other favourites like the Sotong Head OnStik ($1.80); Crab Nuggets OnStik ($1.80); and Chicken Wings ($1.80) are also things that you cannot just walk away from every time you pass an Old Chang Kee stall.
Towards the end of the meal we even got a chance to meet an Old Chang Kee veteran, fondly known as Auntie Aljunied for having spent many years at a branch in the area. Some guests even got to try out folding their own curry puffs, although none could hold up to the nimble, decisive fingers of Auntie!
Bonus: Old Chang Kee has just opened in London! So if you want an escape from Fish & Chips, you know where to go!
Old Chang Kee Coffee House @ REX
19 – 23 Mackenzie Road
Mon-Thu: 11am – 9pm (last order: 8:30pm)
Fri & Sat: 10am – 10pm (last order: 9:30pm)
Sun: 10am – 9pm (last order: 8:30pm)
Reservations: (+65) 6732 1665