Never mind what critics say, the humble curry puff has gotten the Michelin nod.
(Click PLAY for highlights of Rolina Traditional Hainanese Curry Puffs .)
Even though the two hawker stalls sell the same thing – curry puff, the styles are clearly different. One’s flaky and very crisp; the other can be described as small and compact.
As to what the Michelin inspectors are looking out for, I guess it is because there is something quite artisanal about these curry puffs – still hand-made one by one.
Beyond the trusted familiars, I first came across Rolina in 2010 when I was writing a food review, it was then hidden in a corner of Tanjong Pagar Plaza.
The location remains the same, but clearly not that hidden anymore.
Rolina had come a long way, having first started as a roadside stall outside Novena Church more than 50 years ago by owner Mr Tham.
Regulars have often mispronounced these as “Novena Curry Puffs” in the past. Novena -> Rovena -> Rolina. The name Rolina stuck.
He subsequently moved to Serangoon Gardens and then to its present spot.
Mr Tham had been perfecting his puffy craft since 17. He is beyond 70 now, in retirement mode, but I still see him from time to time in the stall. His son helms the outlet now (and closed the Serangoon Garden branch).
I would usually ta-bao a Chicken Curry Puff ($1.80) to eat along the way.
These are not quite like your regular favourites. The first time you would notice, are they are smaller than the average ones, say about two-thirds the size.
While they are small, they are still tightly packed with goodness – of soft cubic potatoes, chicken chunks marinated in curry paste and one sixth of a hard-boiled egg.
The two components that I enjoyed were the enticing buttery skin, and aromatic spices used with nuances of curry.
Of course they taste best fresh, still steam coming out from within.
Rolina Traditional Hainanese Curry Puffs
6 Tanjong Pagar Plaza Market and Food Centre #02-16 Singapore 082006
Tel: +65 9234 0521
Opening Hours: 7am – 4pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon