If you ever have to describe the ingredients that go into rojak to a westerner, I am sure none of them would want to eat it. I mean seriously, does fruit salad dressed with a sauce made from fermented prawns sound delectable? Not only that, you get to eat it with a black coloured duck egg that smells of urine (ammonia). To use Singaporeans, that is yummmmeeeee, to them it is the stuff they use for Fear Factor.
There are several things I look for in a great rojak. On the top of the list is a great Hae Kor (Prawn Paste) which must inevitably come from Penang. Secondly, they must use Torch Ginger Flower (Bunga Kantan) to give it that typical rojak fragrance, something quite a few shops omit nowadays. The best rojak shops still include jellyfish in the mix, another ingredient that is often omitted in run of the mill rojak places. Lastly, and for me most importantly, the peanut must be freshly ground.
It is this last point that most shops falter on nowadays. The ground peanuts that are available commercially are often too dry and lacks that wonderful fragrance and moisture of freshly pounded peanuts. For me, rojak is all about a well balanced sweet, savoury, tangy, spicy sauce with crumbly moist ground peanut coating a freshly charcoal grilled piece of You Char Kway. Ahhhh…. heaven.
Now, Hoover Rojak serves a very good Rojak. They have a special machine which mixes the Penang Prawn Paste with their special blend of other ingredients and the sauce is excellent. The other good thing is they also have the jellyfish and of special note is their Century Eggs which are really good! However, I can’t give them top marks because the You Char Kway is not grilled and horror of horrors, they use the dry and tasteless commercially ground peanuts! Still, their Hae Kor and Century Eggs do make up for the short comings but they would have scored a 4.75/5 if only they grilled the You Char Kway and ground their own peanuts. As such I can only give it a 4.25/5.
There are only a handful of rojak stalls that people talk about and this is one of them. The sauce is perfect and the century eggs are excellent. I just wish they would grill their You Char Kway and grind their own peanuts, then it would really be contender for best rojak in Singapore.
Congrats to Hoover for being awarded the Bib Gourmand 2016!