Teochew Handmade Pau @ Toa Payoh
Over the years, we have seen many traditional bakeries made their exits because the full-time helpers are getting on in age and young people are unwilling to join the business because of the hard work and long hours. Thankfully, we still have some hope as I have met with many passionate 2nd and 3rd generation hawkers who are willing to continue the legacy. One of them is Teochew Handmade Pau.
They have been selling Teochew handmade pau in Toa Payoh since 1993. Business is very brisk on a Sunday when we visited. Although it took longer time and effort to make pau on their own, they found that it was worth doing this as they could give our customers the best quality food.
Meet Richard, the second generation hawker who gave up his mechanical engineering job to continue this family business. Things were not that rosy when he started out 6 years ago. You know lah, many older generation hawkers do things based on ‘feel’. But this will lead to quality difference day by day. So when Richard started out, one of the first things he did was to quantify the recipe so as to maintain the quality of all paus. He then started a central kitchen which currently only supplies pau to the shop.
Richard has adapted his father’s Teochew-style pau recipe with leaner pork to suit the tastes of more health conscious, younger diners. The kong ba pork has been braised with dark soy sauce till it’s flavourful and tender.
The winning formula has to be its delicate skin as it puffs up nicely to a wonderful fluffy and soft finish. A lot of work goes into hand making such beautiful and smooth paus. Richard and his dad are very particular with the balanced proportion of flour, water and sugar. For example, caster sugar is used so as to prevent the pau surface from becoming dimpled. Lard oil is added into the dough therefore making it more tasty.
They grill their own char siew in the central kitchen before mincing it so as to absorb the sauce fully. They use fish instead of prawns for their siew mais, and replace crab roe with carrot. A lot healthier than a standard siew mai but just as tasty.
Their big bao (pork filling) is not as big as I expected but I think this size is just nice for a snack or light meal. The meat inside is juicy and the dark sauce coats the interior of the bao perfectly so you do not get the feeling of dryness at all.
If you are wondering, by having a central kitchen doesn’t mean that the process is automated. Richard finds that investing in an expensive machine does not maintain quality of the pau. So rest assure that everything is still knead by hand. To take some load of his ageing dad, the workers in the central kitchen will supply some varieties of pau to the shop. This way, business can carry on.
I really like their small paus and this is the 5 paus that you will get to try at Ultimate Hawker Fest 2014! Beware the small bao as you may just keep popping them into your mouth as they are just so good. It is definitely better when served fresh off the steamer.
Watch this video to hear about their story. Excellent video done by the students from Republic Polytechnic. It is promising to see up-and-coming young hawkers who are innovative, energetic and creative about what they do. I am looking forward to more creations from Teochew Handmade Pau.
Teochew Handmade Pau 潮洲自制包点有限公司
Address: Blk 127 Toa Payoh Lor 1, #02-02 Singapore 310127
Telephone: 6254 2053 / 6659 5786
Website: Teochew Handmade Pau
Operating Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 6am to 2pm, Sunday 6am to 12pm (Off on Monday and Alternate Tuesdays)
Teochew Handmade Pau Pte Ltd will be taking part in the Singapore Ultimate Hawker Fest this year. This is a charity event to showcase some of our delicious street food in Singapore. At the same time, it was also an event to raise money for the beneficiaries under the care of TOUCH Community Services regardless of race and religion.
Singapore Ultimate Hawker Fest 2014
Venue: SUNTEC Convention Hall 401-402
Date: 22 Nov 2014 (Saturday)
Time: 11am to 5pm
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