My favorite place for a budget high tea in Singapore is the Chilli Padi Nonya Café (Heng Mui Keng Terrace). Its high tea buffet is only available on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays is only S$8.80+ per person (less than S$10 after tax).
I visited the Chilli Padi Nonya Café once when it was still in Bugis. The spread then was OK and the noodle dish was a Penang Assam laksa.
Then the café moved from the populous Bugis to the in the middle of literally nowhere Heng Mui Keng Terrace.
The first time I went to the Heng Mui Keng branch, it took me a long while of searching and a phone call to the café to find the place.
The café was huge but the place was very very empty. Compared with Bugis branch, it was practically a ghost town.
Unless you are in a large group, there’s no need to make a reservation.
Food selection at Chilli Padi Nonya Café
The Chilli Padi Nonya Café serves Peranakan food which is unique to Southeast Asia. (Don’t believe the propaganda that the Peranakan Museum tells you. Peranakan culture is not only in Singapore.)
The food selection for high tea is rather limited. But some of the dishes are so good that it’s actually worth going there just to gorge on them.
My most favorite dish is the curry laksa. You take some of the thick noodles, put it in the strainer and let it soak in the hot water a while.
Then, you put the noodles into your bowl and pour the coconut milk-filled curry gravy. DO NOT put your noodles directly into the curry gravy. (I’m looking at you middle aged man who went on Feb 17.)
The taste is divine!
My second favorite dish is the kong ba bao (which unfortunately doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry).
You need to DIY with this dish. There is a steamer of white fluffy Chinese bun skin. Take one of this.
Take a fatty slice of the kong ba which is next to the steamer. Take a slice of lettuce so your mom won’t nag you.
Once at your seat, put the meat and lettuce into the bun. Eat while warm.
The kong ba is seasoned so well that I do not mind the fatty bits at all.
My third favorite is this: Pai tee which is a a little dough cup which you fill with braised turnip. Yummy!
Pai tee translates as “top hat”. Isn’t that the cutest name?
Nyonya and Malay kuih (roughly translated as cake):
Tropical fruits. Yes, we consider fruits as part of desserts and is a perfect end to a meal.
Coffee and tea: The kopi (coffee) is kind of weak. The tea is stronger. Both goes well with the evaporated milk they have at the side.
How to get there?
Chilli Padi Nonya Café
29 Heng Mui Keng Terrace
#06-21 (Ground Level)
Tel: 6872 2982
Actually, the address tells you NOTHING because it’s rather difficult to get there.
I have discovered an easier way to get to Chili Padi Nyonya at NUS.
- Stop at Pasir Panjang Road’s Heng Mui Keng Terrace or Opp Heng Mui Keng Terrace.
- Walk into NUS, take the right at the first round about.
- Walk up passing Sheares and Kent Ridge Hall and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
- At the top, you will see a building. The entrance to Chili Padi Nyonya Cafe is there.
- Bon appetit.