Monnani Kwabaeggi – ‘Ugly’ But Delicious Korean Pretzels!
I was partaking in my daily routine of mindless scrolling through social media when something interesting caught my eye. A photo of an unassuming, misshapen piece of fried dough appeared on my feed. The caption? ‘Monnani Kwabaeggi, Ugly Korean Pretzel’. This was intriguing to say the least. What kind of a company markets its food as ‘ugly’? I decided that I had to check it out.
Turns out, Monnani Kwabaeggi is Korean and literally translates to ‘Ugly Pretzel’. The kwabaeggi gets its ugly shape from being rolled out and twisted before being deep-fried. They are also widely known as Korea’s version of a doughnut. Evidently, these doughnuts are hugely popular in Korea. There are over a whopping 100 outlets in Korea alone. As of last month, the franchise opened its first international outlet here in Singapore!
Tucked in the heart of the Central Business District, Monnani prepares its pretzels using dough that is imported straight from Korea. The dough is said to contain seven different grains and is deep-fried in canola oil, as it is a healthier oil that is low in saturated fat. Don’t go thinking that these pretzels are anywhere close to being health-food though.
Monnani has a wide variety of pretzels to choose from, ranging from sweet to savoury options. After buying all of my pretzels at the counter, I plopped them all down in the small seating area of Monnani. I first tried their Original Pretzel ($1.40), which is simply twisted and fried dough with no additional flavourings. I was given the choice to coat the pretzel with sugar but decided that I should try the pretzel on its own – though I mainly did this to slow my inevitable weight gain. Seeing that this pretzel was served up in a grease-stained brown paper bag, this ‘ugly’ pretzel really lived up to its name. However, its flavour far exceeded my expectations!
The pretzel reminded me of a denser and much chewier version of youtiao. I was immensely satisfied by its doughy and chewy texture, which went perfectly with its crusty and golden exterior. As you chew into the pretzel, a bit of its oil gets released and coats your mouth. This is an addictive and sinful snack that you probably shouldn’t be eating every day.
I decided to try a few of their sweet-flavoured pretzels, including the Yuzu Pretzel ($1.70), Korean Red Bean Pretzel ($1.70) and Nutella Pretzel ($1.90). I was most excited about trying the Nutella Pretzel. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a miss for me. There was way too much of the Nutella filling, which made the pretzel overly sweet. I would instead recommend either the Yuzu Pretzel if you like something that is milder and more citrusy, or the Red Bean pretzel if you’re a fan of sweet red bean paste.
This humble pretzel shows that it can be quite versatile – its savoury version was delicious as well! I had the Chicken Ham and Cheese Pretzel ($1.90), which contained two layers of ham with cheese sandwiched in between. This crusty exterior of the pretzel was contrasted by the creamy and tangy cheese. The ham added a hint of sweetness and saltiness which went brilliantly with the cheese. This is definitely a pretzel I would get as a snack if I was in the area!
If you’re as intrigued as I am by these ugly but delicious pretzels, you’ll find Monnani situated in the basement of Hong Leong Building in the CBD. I guess if there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that we should never judge a book by its cover!
MissTamChiak.com made an anonymous visit and paid its own meal at the stall featured here.
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