For anyone who doesn’t know what tutu kueh is, they’re little steamed rice-flour cakes filled with delicious fillings such as peanut, coconut and occasionally chocolate or gula melaka.
In Singapore’s waning hawker scene, stalls such as Tan’s Tutu are a glimmer of hope for its revival and renewal. Now run by Tan Bee Hua, Tan’s Tutu has been more than 80 years in the making. Daughter of Tan Yong Fa, the inventor of Tutu Kueh himself, continues his legacy through her day stall at Havelock and her newer outlet at Clementi.
Read on to find out more about the longest-running tutu kueh stall in Singapore!
Back in 1932, Tan’s late father, Tan Yong Fa, had migrated to Singapore from the Fujian Province in Southeastern China. He then started to sell “Song Kueh”, which was a plain, steamed rice cake. Tutu kueh was then born once he added his own twist to this Hokkien confection, adding coconut or peanuts as fillings.
Tan’s older brother took over the business in 1970, giving it its official name that has ingrained itself as a household name – Tan’s Tutu Coconut Cake. They now have two branches, one at Havelock Road and one at Clementi Avenue 3.
Tan explains that making tutu kueh on a daily basis is a gruelling job. Coming from an office job previously, she tells us it was a big change once she took over the business after the passing of her older brother.
Everything is done by hand at Tan’s Tutu, making it a labour-intensive profession. From the washing and sieving of the rice to the cleaning of pandan leaves and the cooking of fillings, each task is tirelessly done.
A box of 5 freshly-steamed kuehs will cost you only S$3.50! You’ll watch in fascination as you see how nimble Tan’s hands are as she pumps out these little cakes.
We first savoured the Peanut Tutu Kueh where minced peanuts, sugar and a little bit of salt are added to the plain tutu kueh. The rice cake was so fluffy and moist, contrasted by the sweet and salty peanut filling. We liked how the peanuts had a savoury edge to it so the kueh wouldn’t be overly sweet and cloying.
Of course, we also had to try the “OG” of all tutu kuehs, the Coconut Tutu Kueh. The coconut shavings are fried with brown sugar, making it a rich and sweet filling. We liked how it had an almost caramel-like taste, with each bite perfumed with the strong aroma of coconut. These cakes were seriously addictive.
We all love a good and affordable hawker gem, but as time passes, these gems will disappear when interest and passion die out. Cafes are popping up left and right in Singapore while traditional stalls and our hawker heritage wanes. We can only hope people take up interest and more second and third-generation hawkers emerge, carrying on the legacy of Singapore’s fierce and unbeatable culinary pioneers.
22B Havelock Road
Havelock Road Cooked Food Centre
Tel: +65 9737 2469
Mon to Wed, Fri & Sat: 12pm – 3pm
(Closed on Thursdays and Sundays)
Nearest Station: Tiong Bahru
449 Clementi Avenue 3
Tel: +65 9737 2469
Daily: 5.30pm – 9pm
Nearest Station: Clementi