Monday, 15 October 2012

Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery (Bedok)

Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery located in Bedok is a traditional shop selling kuehs. It first started its business in 1967, serving customers through their home kitchen before setting up their own shop (at its current location) in 1987 as business picked up.

Through out the years since their inception, they have survived mainly through customers' word of mouth (WOM), no advertising on their part is required. This is not an easy feat as I notice that their location is not exactly ideal. To get to Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery, one would need to take a bus from Bedok MRT station. It is not located in a crowded area near an attraction or shopping mall. They are located just next to Fengshan Food Centre where many people frequent at night for supper for the famous Minced Pork Noodles and Chicken Wings, but well... they are closed by evening time. Hence, to have operated for so long with just WOM, I am sure they did something, if not a few things right!
So what are Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery's USP (Unique Selling Points) that have allowed them to operate for so long? From my perspective the USPs are:

1) Hand made Kuehs and other products. The Kuehs and fried stuff such as Yam Cake, Curry Puffs, Spring Rolls are all hand made! From pastry to the fillings, they are all hand made from the raw ingredients. Not made from factories! I feel that this is the most important USP. Despite it being a labourious task with such a wide product range, they still take the effort to make everything from scratch. Kudos to them.

2) Freshly made daily. Every thing is freshly made on the spot daily. To do this, they have to start working at 4am in the wee hours of the morning daily!

3) No/Minimum preservatives. If you are a regular customer here, you will know that most of the kuehs  and fried snacks cannot be kept for long. This is because no preservatives are added. It is best to eat it on the spot or within the same day.

4) Vegetarian. Suitable for vegetarian.

5) Halal Certified. Suitable for our Muslim friends (important point..especially in the light of Amy Cheong facebook post).
Part of the product range
Pulut Int and Fried Snacks
6) Wide variety of product range. They sell a comprehensive range of kuehs (from Nonya Kuehs to Ang Koo Kuehs to Soon Kuehs) and fried snacks (from Curry Puffs, Spring Rolls to Fried Yam Cakes) which are all hand made by them.

During this visit, the partner and I had the opportunity to view and learn (hands on experience) how some of the kuehs are made. First up, Ang Ku Kuehs.
Filling for Ang Ku Kuehs (Peanut, Bean, Gula Melaka Coconut)
These are the Peanut, Bean and Gula Mekala Coconut fillings used for the Ang Ku Kuehs 红龟糕 aka   Red Tortoise Cakes. This is a traditional kueh with a tortoise shell shape with a soft sticky glutinous rice flour skin and sweet filings inside. Back then, Chinese believe that eating tortoise will promote longevity, bringing prosperity and good luck to people. Hence, the tortoise shell shape. The Ang Ku Kueh is an auspicious kueh that is often eaten during important Chinese festivals such as Chinese New Year and also during birthday celebrations.
Left to Right: Mould, Ang Ku Kueh - making in process
This is the mould used to make Ang Ku Kuehs.
Ang Ku Kuehs before steaming
It was not an easy making the Ang Ku Kuehs. There are not supposed to be any cracks on the kuehs, but well, this is our first time making it. A hands on session that allows us to appreciate the effort gone into making this. This excludes the effort and man hours required for making the pastry and fillings as these were already prepared for us.
Ang Ku Kuehs
I liked the Ang Ku Kueh ($0.50 each, $2.30 for 5) with peanut fillings in it. Because the peanut fillings were thick, moist and crunchy. Providing a nice contrast to the glutinous rice flour skin which was soft, sticky and chewy. Moreover, I must say that they were generous with the fillings.
Pulut Int
Pulut Int
Also had the opportunity to learn how to wrap the Pulut Int ($0.50). The Malay Auntie was able to wrap it so fast and quickly. It seems easy, but upon attempting it, I realised that it was harder than it seems. Well, I guess I am better at eating. The Pulut Int consisted of sweet blue (clitoria flower) glutinous rice topped with gula melaka coconut toppings and wrapped banana leaf.
Soon Kueh
The red mould as seems above is the mould used to make Soon Kueh ($0.70) and Ku Cai Kueh ($0.70). I believe that this mould can be used to make curry puffs too.
The filling that is used in the Soon Kueh.
Soon Kueh
Each piece of Soon Kuehs are handmade. A labour intensive process and as seen in the above photo, each piece looks exactly the same as if they were made by machines.
This is the mould used to make Rice Kueh ($0.80).
Kueh Salat
Freshly made Kueh Salat!
Kueh Salat
The Kueh Salat ($1.20 per packet) with the top layer consisting of a pandan crust with sticky glutinous rice at the bottom.
Kueh Lapi
Kueh Lapis
Kueh Lapis 九层糕 ($1.20 per packet) aka 9 layer cake / Jiu Cheng Gao, one of my favourite childhood snack which I peeled off layer by layer.
Yam Cake
Customers can choose between their Fried or non-fried Yam Cakes. I enjoyed both versions and though that this was one of the better yam cakes I have had. Because, their Yam Cakes ($0.80 per piece) were full of yam chunks along with mushrooms and other ingredients. In addition, it was soft and fragrant. Yam lovers will like this.
Tapioca Kuehs; Kotoh Ubi
Keeping the best for the last..

Both kuehs above are Tapioca Kuehs - Kotoh Ubi ($1.20 per packet). The one on the left is mashed tapioca with gula melaka mixed in it. While the one on the right is mashed tapioca topped with gula melaka coconut (This is my favourite among all the kuehs I tried). The tapioca at the bottom was soft and fragrant with generous chunks of tapioca in it. On top, the gula melaka coconut enhanced the flavour making this incredibly delectable.

I can't help but emphasis on the quality and freshness of the kuehs and snacks that Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery sells. In addition, these are hand made with manual labour at such an affordable price. I must say, I really admire the spirit of Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionary, for taking such effort to bring these delish kuehs to consumers in the traditional way (hard way). They could have easily just purchase a few machines to do the work (less staffing issues to handle, higher throughput). With our developing society modernising and as quality of life improves, who knows if kuehs will still continue to play a role in our daily life. From my own personal observation, it seems to be going on a down trend, people we now prefer to eat fanciful buns/bread, cupcakes, pancakes, swiss rolls, bubble tea, beancurd, ice cream, crepe and more. Hopefully, I am wrong. Hence, if you are wondering where to get kuehs, this could be one of your options.

Thanks Gavan for the invite. 

ps: the Spring Rolls are quite good too. Big and full of ingredients such as turnip, carrot, beansprouts. No photo as we well... ate it while on the way home.

Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery (Bedok)
84 Bedok North Street 4
Tel: 6449 0815
Opening Hours: Mon to Sat 4am - 6pm

                          Sun 4am - 2pm

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  1. Gavin contacted u too? Wonderful review. Awesome people at Lek Lim. Looks like you had fun!

    1. Hi Shirley, yes he did. Thanks. It was a good learning experience.

  2. Yum Yum!! I used to stay near Fengshan Food Centre when I was very young but didn't know that this confectionery exists! I love these nonya kueh!

    1. That means you must have had a great many experiences indulging into the bak chor mee and chicken wings. The next time you drop by the area can give this a try.

  3. Pertaining to your question, I teach English in Adult Workplace Literacy. I used to teach creative writing in elementary schools after I'd retired from the corporate world. But it's more fun training adults :)

    1. oh English. Not an easy subject to learn or teach! At least you are enjoying it!

  4. peanut ang ku kueh is my favourite :)

    Latest: Best of Coffee and Bruschetta

  5. I have the Nyonya Laksa and you have the kuih muih. Among all, my fav is the Ang Ku kuihs. These days, besides the traditional filling inside, many other types are available. My other buys for me, a couple of the different ones and I still have some in my fridge.

  6. Hi foodiefc, thanks for the kind review. I had posted a link of ur review on our facebook page. I'm glad u had a great time.

    1. Hi Gavan, np. It was my frank personal observations and opinions.

  7. Superbly written article, if only all bloggers offered the same content as you, the internet would be a far better place

  8. It's really wonderful. I buy it every weekend. My family like this Jummy. Usually I buy it at Feliksa Konditoreja

  9. Just tried the Kueh Lapis, it was really delicate, smooth and not too sweet.


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