Unlike the Thais and the Vietnamese, we Singaporeans don’t really eat a lot of salads. In fact, the only local salad that we eat is Rojak. There is of course Lou Hei, (raw fish salad) but that is really a festive rather than a regular dish.
If there is one dish that I am usually very apprehensive to take photos of, it is rojak. I find it very difficult to make the dish appealing. It is just a mess of different items all mixed up with this gooey dark sauce and peanuts on top. It is, as its name implies… Rojak.
It might not look good, but if you get a Rojak with freshly toasted You Char Kway, really flavoursome prawn paste and freshly roasted and ground peanuts, it is just heavenly!
The one ingredient that sets rojak apart though is Hei Gor (Prawn Paste). It might seem improbable that a paste made from decomposing prawns can be considered a dessert, but somehow it just seems to work. In case you still don’t know, Hei Gor is made from Belachan which is essentially shrimps that have been left out to rot. The rotting process degrades the protein and releases lots of glutamates which is what makes the paste such an excellent ingredient for so many dishes. It essentially does what Parmesan cheese does, ie gives it a boost of naturally occuring glutamates (MSG).
Anyway, whoever thought of Hei Gor with sugar and tamarind juice is quite a genious because the combination works really well. But of course, you have to start with a good quality Hei Gor and for that there is only one undisputed source and that is Penang. So this stall proudly shows off its Penang Hei Gor with the words “Best Quality” on it to assure you that you are getting the best rotting prawns there is.
Well, the rojak sauce here is good, but I don’t like the peanuts which were commercially bought, so it was too dry. The you char kway were toasted and let to cool too long so they were not crispy, but this should not be a problem during peak hours. Overall, a better than average rojak that is worth eating when you are at this Food Centre. 4/5
After you have eaten rojak from Penang, it is really hard to find something here that can compare! But if you are in Zion Road Food Centre, this one is certainly worth ordering to accompany your other dishes. I wonder how it compares with the original stall at Clementi. Anyone can comment?