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Feb 9, 2013 03:17 PM

Toa Payoh Rojak – Famous and Delicious Rojak at Old Airport Road Food Centre

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Toa Payoh Rojak is where I went at Old Airport Road Food Centre to get my rojak fix. Rojak can mean many different things depending on where you are as there are many different versions that are very different from each other. They are all basically a type of salad, but today we’re talking about the normal Singaporean fruit rojak that has cucumber, pineapple, jicama, bean sprouts, deep-fried tofu puffs and cut up you tiao (fried crueller). This is topped with ground peanuts and a dressing is made up of water, belacan (shrimp paste), hae chor (shrimp paste), ginger bud, sugar, chili, lime juice and maybe a few other spices.

Now, I knew this was a well-known stall. However, researching later I found out that a lot of people consider this the best rojak stalls in Singapore. As such there is a long line here and they actually have a real numbering system where your number pops up on an electronic sign when you’re rojak is ready, which I liked as it was a lot more efficient.

I found this video on youtube of the chef at work, you can find the link on my blog.

The sauce here was quite good; it was sweet as it normally is, a bit spicy because of the chili paste and had a good fermented flavor from the shrimp paste. The ingredients were all fresh and good tasting. Another thing I liked was that the you tiao was crispy as they toast it before you serve it so you don’t get a soggy you tiao. Overall, it was a very solid version. Now I will caveat my rating in that I don’t love fruit rojak as a dish, it’s pretty decent, but not something I really crave. It’s more a side dish to me, so while I thought that while this was quite good for rojak, but it’s still just rojak to me. 8.25/10

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  1. Is it common to include dried squid in Rojak? I don't remember having it with it in Singapore or KL, but it happens here in NY.

    10 Replies
    1. re: swannee

      Not common, but some places in KL or Singapore do include cuttlefish in their fruit rojak.

      1. re: klyeoh

        hmm i dont remember ever having it in singapore, but i'm far from a rojak master as my post suggests since its kind of just like a side dish for me not something i seek out

        1. re: Lau

          I'd even had one in Surabaya (Indonesia) which tasted almost exactly like Singapore fruit rojak, but included boiled cow's lips & nose ("rujak cingur") which had the same consistency as cuttlefish.

          1. re: klyeoh

            haha interesting...well like i said there are so many versions of rojak that its almost like a genre of dishes

          2. re: Lau

            Most rojak spots in Singapore, e.g. Hoover Rojak at Whampoa, Soon Heng Rojak at Toa Payoh, will serve toasted dried cuttlefish and also stuffed beancurd puffs stuffed with shredded cucumber/beansprouts side-by-side with fruit rojak. But these toasted dried cuttlefish will be different from the slippery, jelly-like parboiled cuttlefish tentacles mixed into the fruit rojak, e.g. like this version I had yesterday evening.

            1. re: klyeoh

              there is a dish in taiwan that is sort of like this, it was squid though (scroll down about halfway down the post)

              1. re: Lau

                Yes, obviously a Fujianese delicacy. I liked Taiwanese night markets, like this one in Kaohsiung (Liouhe Night Market)

                1. re: klyeoh

                  yah i love taiwan, i think its some of the best food in asia without a doubt and people are really nice there. ive never been to kaoshiung as ive never been to southern taiwan, but ive heard the food is excellent there (although sounds like you weren't crazy about it). my cousin's wife always tells me i need to go to southern taiwan (she's from taichung)

                  the hu jiao bing you had, i had at a very famous place at raohe that K K is talking about. Those are amazing, probably one of the best night market foods I've had. Btw these night markets the vendor quality can vary pretty heavily if you hadn't noticed. I try to go to the famous spots or the spots with a line of locals, usually ends up being the smart decision

                  1. re: Lau

                    One "complaint" I have about Kaohsiung cuisine is the lack of salt in their cooking - rendering most food I had there bland and tasteless. Mind you, I *am* from Singapore, where we already put less salt in our cooking compared to most other countries. Singaporeans normally find food in Hong Kong or China a bit too salty for our tastes.

                    But I don't have any such problems in Taipei, where the food is perfectly seasoned. I absolutely LOVE the food there.

                    1. re: klyeoh

                      yah i have spent a pretty good amount of time in taipei, but very little time outside of taipei. i think the food in taipei is just amazing,

                      i really love neighborhood places there like the kind of places i find when im staying at my friend's places and you walk down some alley and find some amazing mom & pop restaurant or some semi hawker stall / street stand selling something amazing all the locals go for. Usually the proprietors are so nice too

                      it's interesting that you say that about kaohsiung, my friends dad who is like very taiwanese (from some really small village outside tainan where people think you're a foreigner if you speak mandarin) thinks that alot of taiwanese food isn't made properly in taipei and that they make it correctly in the south and my friend is always raving about the food (although she's more talking tainan), so i've always wanted to eat there. although if you're saying its bland compared to HK food its possible i'll end up agreeing with you b/c HK cantonese food is my favorite of all chinese foods and there for de facto my favorite food along with japanese food

      2. I like Rojak, but its not something I crave when I'm there. will have to check this place out as I really ant to get to Old Airport Road next visit.

        On a slight tangent - anyone know of a vegetarian version, or a version that doesn't contain Blachan? My hubby has a mild allergy to shellfish, so he avoids Blachan because his throat gets itchy. He loves the food in S'pore/M'sia but Rojak is one thing he hasn't tried yet due to the Blachan.

        2 Replies
        1. re: boogiebaby

          blachan is in many, many Malay and Nonya (and Thai, where it s called Kapi and Indonesian where it is called trassi) dishes, by no means only Rojak. Pretty much all curries, peanut sauces, sambal goreng, as well as many noodle dishes contain it. Usually it's taste is in the a ground, as an element of depth and complexity. The black shrimp paste also used in Rojak (and Penang laksa for example) has a different less fermented, but perhaps more fishy taste, very sticky and quite sweet. It is used much less often than blachan.
          IMHO there is little Southeast Asian food that tastes right without blachan, even though one seldom tastes it per se.

          1. re: boogiebaby

            yah i feel the same way as you about rojak and i was also going to say the same thing as swanee that rojak would probably taste kind of weird without it