Just what 'throne' am I speaking about?
The BEST kaya puff in Ipoh. And most probably in all of Malaysia. Judging from the immense support, endless queues on weekends and public holidays, and the media darling they have grown to become.
Kaya puffs are flaky pastries with golden brown hue, shaped into a semi-circle and filled with a cream named "kaya" made of coconut milk, eggs, sugar and a faint hint of essence from screwpine leaves or "pandan" in Malay.
Baked in an oven in batches; this delectable creation at Sin Eng Heong is selling like hot cakes (or puffs to suit the theme) on a daily basis.
Their main reason for success? Passion.
To be painstakingly mixing and kneading the dough, cooking the "kaya" from scratch in large quantity on a daily basis, then manually placing every tray into the oven for baking. And this does NOT end the laborious process.
Every single piece is then arranged into boxes of tens to be sold. Routinely, they do not have the luxury of time to be carrying out the last task in their own sweet time. Reason being? The customers would have been obediently forming a line at the counter, eagerly ordering tens, and sometimes hundreds of pieces per person!
Mr Ng, the proprietor of the brand has been adamant on maintaining the exact quality control since he started making his signature puffs back in the 50's, at a smaller setting elsewhere. He is not only the brains behind the renowned brand, but also can be seen kneading and baking behind the scenes. Currently, he is being assisted by his wife, daughter and son-in-law, and a few helpers in the kitchen.
The end result? Kaya puffs that have to be tasted to believe. Incredibly light, flaky and fragrant pastry (from a light brush of pork lard oil), gingerly crunching apart by the lightest exertion of a bite, revealing creamy "kaya" within that is sweet with an unmistakable fragrance from the "pandan" essence and coconut milk.
Each piece selling at only MYR0.80 (about USD0.25), sometimes 10 pieces are barely enough to feed one. Let alone shared among friends and family. Hence, the perpetual queue as most customers, especially tourists are eyeing for tens and hundreds of these to be brought home as gifts.
Alternatively, it is best to call in and reserve your purchase in advance. They do take orders this way, though sometimes when the work burden is overwhelming, you may have to wait slightly too when collecting your orders.
Aside from the famous kaya puffs, Sin Eng Heong does bake other confectioneries as well. Usually laid out for your viewing pleasure, they are experts in churning out those traditional biscuits that are no longer common in most bakeries. For one, their ingenious version of a "Siew Pa Wong", or pandan-infused lotus paste with salted egg yolk, wrapped within a casing of flaky pastry shaped into a sphere.
On a daily basis, they can only produce 3000 - 4000 pieces of kaya puffs. Their capabilities are limited by the arduous task of manual production, and limited facilities. Less than a year ago, they have finally expanded to the adjacent premise to cater to the increasing crowd, and on my last visit ... seemingly, the two shops worth of space are still barely sufficient.
Whenever friends or relatives drop by Ipoh for a leisure getaway, this will be one of the definite MUST-buy's aside from pomeloes and another biscuit named Fragrant Biscuits (Heong Peng).
KEDAI BISKUT SIN ENG HEONG
No. 64, Jalan Mustapha Al-Bakri (Jalan Clare)
30300 Ipoh, Perak.
Telephone : 05- 2439659, or 012-4534596 (Elaine).
Opens daily from 9am — 8pm. Sundays : 9am — 6pm.
GPS Coordinates : 4.594916,101.084855