Afternoon tea for less than S$3?
Then head to Sultan Pastry at Mr. Teh Tarik located at 970 Geylang Road (Onan Road) #01-12 Tristar Complex, which is a short walk to Malay Village, for their freshly handmade Putu Piring [also tutu Kueh (cake)] and a cup of original Malay ginger tea [teh (tea) halia (ginger water)].
Putu Piring is a traditional Malay dessert of steamed cake (flour mix) with gula lelaka (palm sugar) as filling. It is served on a square piece of fragrant pandan leaf with shredded coconut. To consume it with class, I will normally cut out a small piece of the cake with a tea spoon to let the slightly thickened brown-color palm sugar oozes out. Then I will mix the cake, the palm sugar and shredded coconut before I scoop up the little chunk with the tea spoon and finally tease my salivating tongue with a neat combination of coconut bits crunch and gula lelaka sweetness while the subtle fragrance of pandan leaves flirts with the olfactory senses.
For me, Putu Piring goes well with a cup of invigorating and spicy ginger tea, especially on a cold day where it warms the stomach and lungs. As a good digestive aid, it probably eases you from a bloated stomach if you have a heavy lunch. As fresh as it can be, the concentrated ginger juice is squeezed from the ginger bits and can be taken either with hot water, sugar or just milk.
Sultan Pastry is probably one of the remaining bastions of small eateries serving faithfully since one generation ago providing not just cheap and good food to a wider group of working people, it provides a minimum quality of life for socializing and interaction in one of the most expensive cities in the world. However, these old traditional food stalls and other smaller stalls may be gone as the cost of living moves exponentially with time. What may be left in the future, which is taking place in this generation, is probably some chic café serving expensive set of pastry and a cup of coffee or tea, and grossly lacking a local taste of history and tradition.
My bottom line is to enjoy this freshly handmade exotic food as much as possible and then indulge in a rich memory bank of nostalgia in the distant future. The diversity of these exotic handmade foods may be shrinking as small time businesses may find it a struggle in an economy where money talks. And while some of these handmade foods may make it big time in the manufacturing plant for mass production, it may just be a mechanical flavor of chemically processed food, and lacking the discerning touch of the experienced cook.
Afternoon tea for less than S$2? Yes. Come and get while it is still fresh and hot.