1A Crispy Curry Puff: The original 1A is not the 1A you know!

With Damien


I am sure that when you see this type of multilayered curry puff, you would immediately think of 1A curry puffs right? This very unique and indeed very Singaporean snack can now be found in many shopping centres around the island. But did you know that there are really two 1A curry puffs in Singapore? There is one which operates all the franchise stalls in Singapore, then there is another one which is still operated by a feisty old grandma in Henderson. Guess which one came first?

This is yet another one of those copycat hawker stories, a phenomenon which I am sure you are familiar with in our country. Just think of Rotiboy, Doughnuts and Bee Cheng Hiang and you know what I mean. It seems to me that we Singaporeans are much better at copying others than coming up with original stuff. Just look at home renovation designs for instance. You know, at one time it looked like every newly wed couple's master bedroom has that obligatory photo hanging above the bedhead. I think the phenomenon boils down to two very strong character traits of the Singaporean. The first is that we tend to be very Kiasu (scared of losing out) and the 2nd being that we are a conformistic society. So, being Kiasu, it is much easier to copy an idea that works rather than take the risk with something new. And being a nation of conformists, we, like a shoal of sardines or a flock of sheep, just follow what the others are doing. Don't know what to do? Just follow law!

Anyway the story of 1A (there is no A1 curry puff as far as I know) is just another case study of this phenomenon. As you probably guess by now, the stall in Henderson (according to them) is the originator of this particular type of curry puff. It turns out that it was first made around 17 years ago by this Teochew Ah Mah (Granny) who was at the time making fried Poh Piah (springrolls) and Soon Kueh. One day she just decided to combine the two and came up with the multilayered crispy curry puff that we are all so familiar with. The Curry Puff later became known as 1A Curry Puff as their stall then was at Blk 1A Eunos Crescent. According to them, the other 1A was started by someone who used to work at their store.

If you do an internet search, you will find other stories about how this curry puff originated and I am not in a position to say what really happened. But I do find Grandma's story quite plausible (It's between a sweet old granny and a businessman, so who would you believe?). If you have more information to shed some light on this, do let us know.


Crispy Curry Puff $1 ea

Anyway, the curry puffs here are really good. The skin is crispy and thin, more like a Malay Epok Epok rather than the Chinese style Curry Puff which uses short crust pastry. The filling is also quite moist, almost as if there was a bit of gravy in it. I actually quite like the Sardine Puff which really reminded me of the Malay version except that you get the multi layered crispy skin. 4.25/5


The Ah Mah who invented the Crispy Skin Curry Puff

Conclusion

I don't know if there is such a thing as copyright of Hawker's names but I do notice that there are many hawker stalls claiming to be the "original" stall of famous brand names. At times it can be quite confusing and sometimes it can affect the business of the real original stall. Just the other day I spied a banner somewhere in Bukit Timah proclaiming that they were the original 132 Mee Pok and recently I also wrote about the confusion over Eng Seng black pepper crabs. Is this something we all just sit back and accept as part of our society, (like the fact that you almost never get your handphone back when you lose it), or is it something that we should work towards changing?

So, if you are a curry puff lover, you should check this one out and see if this "original" crispy skin curry puff is better than the rest. And do let us know your version of the 1A curry puff story.


Update 25 June 2012
They have moved to 好地方 Blk 127 Kim Tian Road, #01-01 Singapore160127




Soon Soon Huat
1A Crispy Curry Puff
Blk 94 Henderson Road
#01-276 S(150094)
68415618
Free Delivery
From 8am Closed Mondays

27 comments:

Holy Drummer said...

Interesting, I thought there was the one and only 1A who started the franchise. I ate their curry puffs since they were at Eunos Crescent.

It gets confusing here. I recall that the stall @ Eunos Crescent closed down for a period of time. But after a while, it 'resurrected'.

If your account is true, then that means tt the ORIGINAL packed up and left for Henderson, with a copycat (The franchise owner or yet another imposter?) re-opening at the original location to capitalise.

Now with the franchise, the prices have since shot up and the standards have gone down - in terms of quantity, at least - this is in comparison with the ORIGINAL Eunos Crescent.

That said, I think the franchise owner had the right business sense to entrepreneur-alize the recipe and I don't fault him for introducing it to a wider market.

Since I've tried both - my verdict: No difference in taste, really. Anytime way better than Old Chang Kee in my honest opinion - But nothing fantastic nor fanciful either, save for the fact that the franchise introduced many new and novel flavours (I dunno about Henderson)

For the record - 1A is my Dad's favourite curry puff. Lighter than the usual short crust~.

Not a fan myself, but If i have to - I'd go for Lagoon's or Marine Parade's~

sumosumo said...

old chang kee has gone down the drain....
it now dosen't sell just curry puffs.. but other crappy fried food on skewers like fried fish balls, fried sotong balls, fried crab sticks etc etc.. wat kind of crapy franchise is that???! selling fried stuff on sticks which are mass produced in factories?!!!!

as for the 1A curr puff... i think the one that damine bought from amoy street hawker centre during one of the makan sessions was a pretty good version of this style of curry puff. cant remember the name, but u cld ask him. in fact i thought it tasted lighter, tastier and less oily than 1A.....

Holy Drummer said...

Yup the one mien bought was excellent stuff. We had it at Beo right?

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm I agree that the standard of "1A" curry puff has gone down the drain (with reference to the one with multiple outlets). In fact it cannot even hold a candle to Wang Wang. Now the interesting thing is Leslie's photograph. I seem to remember that yellow box packaging as I used to buy 10 or more at 1 go. Looks like I must make the trip to Henderson :)

khim said...

sumo, r u referring to e curry puffs tat damien brought us during e crispy pork curry rice session?

ya, i think tat curry puff is really light & moist! i like it a lot.. i can at least eat 3 of those.. hehe..

ya, i remembered damien mentioned it's from amoy street too.. but alas, i can't remember e name too.. =(

jems said...

Tried this 1A and Henderson and agree I like the moistness inside :) and at $1 for a relatively huge piece I think it's pretty good value :)

^j|eQi^ said...

Hi, I used to live in that block and my grandma still lives there. I'm sure they are not open on Sundays too. :(

wahcow said...

after reading all the comments, i am now confused....which is the real deal ??

but anyway, this is a "surprise" find in the middle of a block of HBD flats.
When is the ter kah at the same coffeeshop going to be blogged ?

ieat said...

Well, the ter kah sold out the day I went, so it is back on the bottom of the to do list.

Anonymous said...

there is an 1A curry puff stall at AMK hub. u mean that's the fake one?

tytan said...

As for 1A curry puffs, i suggest to try the Selera curry puffs opp. the former Rex cinema.the curry in the puff veri omph!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I found a handphone and returned it once...

Anonymous said...

After trying the curry chicken and sardine puffs at henderson last year, I can't eat any other puffs. The A1 puffs at basement of Taka are a shadow of the henderson ones. I remember the first time I went to the henderson coffee shop, the old aunty highly recommended her sardine puffs. Being sceptical, I ordered one to share with my friend. After one bite, we both proceeded to order two more for each of us. Henderson's 1A is unbeatable!!

Anonymous said...

sumosumo,

old chang kee sells 35000 curry puffs a day. so obviously at least 35001 (including myself)ppl and many more disagree with your facile criticism of Old Chang Kee curry puffs.

I honestly hope food critics don't go down the road of food nazis. It is one thing to rave about your favourite food; but it is quite entire another to criticize someone else's favourite food based on your own narrow preferences.

liverpool1965 said...

Old Chang Kee, $40 million in sales last year...33% revenue coming from its curry puffs...guess Mr Han is doing something right by offering other products besides the usual staples !:)...

Anonymous said...

Huh..."Go down the road of food nazis?"

Personally, If I don't fancy certain food I'd like to express my personal views. What's wrong with that? (in fact you just did so yourself too)

But before you get me wrong...I don't question your preference....Good for you if you like Old Chang Kee's curry puffs.

ieat said...

Yes everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But there are some opinions which are inappropriate to be expressed in a blog. It is up to everyone here to ensure that their comments are appropriate and that it is done in the right spirit.

taiSEKwong said...

if u like the taste, eat it more. If u dun fancy it, spent ur $ elsewhere..where ur tastebuds agrees with it! simple as that. Food and taste is a wide variances to diff types of ppl. 1 review cant speaks for all...the only logical way to find out its to EAT IT & SEE whether ur taste aligns to what is being reviewed!

ieat said...

Yes I think you hit the nail on the head. Everyone should just taste for themselves and form their own opinion about the food.

Anonymous said...

to me delicious food comes first

Anonymous said...

recently i saw a shop selling curry puff at blk 349 jurong east ave 1 while having lunch there with colleagues... size bigger than brands and selling 2 FOR $2.40... very worth it... the taste is not bad... good curry taste, thin crispy crust and very fresh.... no harm trying for all....

laetitia said...

i live in eunos, so i remember my mum buying me A1 curry puffs wayy back in 2003 for me to eat before i went for my part-time job. it was the best curry puff ever, but eating it every week i got sick of it.

i've never tried the franchise outlets though, they charged more for a smaller curry puff

so they are still available at the eunos crescent coffee shop?

Anonymous said...

Anyone tried the tip top curry puff in AMK?

Jyoan said...

I really LOOOVVVVVEEE 1A curry puffs. Because I prefer more watery curry, and 1A has it. I also like the way the franchise version has come out with many flavours. Totally love the durian one. Hot, smooth, durian cream flowing into my mouth... ... Heavenly.

Even my mother likes the sardine one very much. And the normal one too. Definitely way better than Old Chang Kee.

I never understand why Old Chang Kee is making the money though.

Sen said...

Tried the curry puff today, really excellent stuff.

Anonymous said...

Is the Henderson Road one still in business?

I remember eating a A1 curry puff that comes with orange packaging from Bukit Batok.

So the original one should be 1A with yellow packaging from Henderson since the one at Eunos now is another guy capitalising on the name? Or did I read the blog wrongly?

xy said...

The curry puffs at duke-nus cafe is the best I have eaten and it's cheap. For $1, it is filled with lots of meat and made freshly with their really big oven. It's usually sold out after 3pm.

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