Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is ‘Kueh’? A big part of Southeast Asian cuisine, kueh refers to any bite-sized snack or dessert food typically made from rice flour/glutinous rice, and can be all-encompassing. What the English define as cakes, cookies, dumplings, pudding, biscuits, or pastries, we simply call it — kueh!
Overwhelmed by the number of kueh featured above? Kueh can be sweet or savoury, colourful or plain, full of fillings or not. There is kueh from Singapore, kuih from Malaysia, kue from Indonesia, and similar versions from Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and the Philippines.
To go through them all is pretty impossible, so here are 10 types of traditional kueh commonly found in Singapore, and the best places you should taste them!
1. Tutu Kueh
These adorable little steamed rice flour cakes are known for their soft, pillow-like texture. Filled with either grated coconut roasted with gula melaka or pounded peanuts with a dash of sugar, Tutu Kueh is often served on a fragrant piece of pandan leaf.
Find it at: Tan’s Tu Tu Coconut Cake (The original creator of Tutu Kueh in Singapore!)
22B Havelock Road, Singapore 160022 | 449 Clementi Avenue 3, Singapore 120449
Opening hours differ for each location.
2. Ang Ku Kueh
Translating to ‘red tortoise cake’, this traditional Chinese pastry is shaped like a tortoise shell and often eaten during festivities. Chewy glutinous rice is stuffed with sweet mung bean or peanut, served on a piece of banana leaf. Although Ang Ku Kueh is traditionally red in colour (it’s in the name!), there are many new variations that come in all sorts of colours and flavours — green tea or coffee anyone?
Find it at: Ji Xiang Confectionery
Block 1 Everton Park, #01-33, Singapore 081001 | 235 Victoria Street, Singapore 188027
3. Png Kueh
This classic Teochew glutinous rice cake may look similar to the Ang Ku Kueh above, but its filling is very much different. Glutinous rice, sautéed with shallots, shrimp, mushrooms and peanuts, is wrapped within a glossy pink skin, in the shape of a peach to represent longevity.
Find it at: Yong’s Teochew Kueh
1022 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534760
4. Soon Kueh
Another classic Teochew kueh, these near translucent dumplings are stuffed with stir-fried bamboo shoots, Chinese turnip and dried shrimps, with a hint of pepper. As with all savoury Teochew kueh, eat it with sweet dark soy sauce and chili for the best taste.
Find it at: Yong’s Teochew Kueh
5. Chwee Kueh
Meaning ‘water cake’ in Teochew/Hokkien, this popular breakfast dish is a uniquely Singaporean version. Our bowl-shaped steamed rice cakes are topped with savoury and sweet chai poh (preserved turnip) and served with chili. The rice cakes are soft and light, with an almost pudding-like texture.
Find it at: Bedok Chwee Kueh
208 New Upper Changi Road, Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre, #01-19, Singapore 460207
6. Ondeh Ondeh
A Nyonya kueh, these pandan-flavoured glutinous rice balls are coated with grated coconut. Bite into one, and out flows the sweet molten gula melaka. Be warned, they can be highly addictive!
Find it at: Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry
Blk 55 Tiong Bahru Rd, #01-39, Singapore 160055
7. Kueh Salat
With its bright green top layer—a rich coconut-pandan egg custard—and its bottom layer of glutinous rice tinted blue with blue pea flowers, this Peranakan kueh is easily identifiable. Despite its vivid colourings, the kueh is all natural and gorgeous to look at, with modern variations of it as cakes fit for celebrations.
Find it at: Kim Choo Kueh Chang
60 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427784
8. Kueh Lapis
Kueh Lapis is a childhood favourite for many Singaporeans. Its chewy rainbow-coloured layers are a delight to savour, layer by layer! While this rainbow-coloured kueh is known as 九层糕 (nine layer cake), the Indonesian version, Kueh Lapis Legit, is the brown 千层糕 (thousand layer cake) with a completely different taste and texture.
Find it at: Molly's
Block 104 Hougang Avenue 1, #01-1121, Singapore 530104
9. Kueh Bahulu
Similar to the Madeleine cakes of the French, Kueh Bahulu is a traditional Malay sponge cake that is crispy on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside. These dainty cakes are eggy and slightly sweet, pairing especially well with coffee.
Find it at: Warisan Recipe
Blk 221 Boon Lay Shopping Centre, #01-120, Singapore 640221
10. Kueh Bangkit
A literal melt-in-your-mouth cookie, this Chinese New Year snack is one not to be missed. Despite its simple list of ingredients—tapioca flour, coconut cream, sugar and eggs—this delicate cookie takes some skill to make. It must be light and airy, with a crisp outer shell but a soft middle.
Find it at: Ding Bakery (Only available during Chinese New Year Period)
Indulge in kueh, tea and conversation!
In an intimate session with collector and researcher Jasmine Adams, delight your senses on a journey through culinary history. Taste a selection of hand-picked Peranakan kueh in Jasmine’s beautiful garden, while learning about how pastry stamping and moulding began. After, hand make clay kueh magnets with heirloom moulds from her collection, amassed over two decades!
Find out more here.
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Drawn by the designs of kueh? Make your own ever-lasting kuehs with Culturally, from Ang Ku Kueh candles to Kueh Salat soaps! We offer unique cultural experiences for you and your loved ones; hand-picked, hands-on.