Rochor Original Beancurd has been satisfying the sweet soya cravings of Singaporeans since 1960. Housed in a delightfully worn shophouse, it is set just off the busy Selegie Road thoroughfare and attracts a constant stream of customers – young and old, individuals and groups. Queues are common (especially at night), which may go some way to explaining the gruff efficiency of the servers.
The choice seats are around the cramped tables that overflow onto the street and alleyway outside. There is extra seating upstairs, in a starkly-lit room with grubby whitewashed walls, intense air conditioning, and black bin bags overflowing with empty beancurd tubs and oil-stained paper. The acoustics are bad, and the din of chatter and chairs scratching against the floor is off-putting. It’s strictly no-frills, but that’s all part of the charm.
Rochor Original Beancurd
2 Short Street
Open 12:00–00:00 daily
BEANCURD (SGD 1.20)
Beancurd is ROB’s flagship offering. Hundreds of tubs must be sold every day, and for good reason. This stuff is really quite something. Its consistency (not to mention colour) is more like a soft cheese than a soya product. It is thick and dense, and the taste of soya is strong and dominant; any sweetness is residual. I had it cold, but the soya taste is even more pronounced when eaten warm. Each tub is hearty, unique and satisfying.
My soft spot for fried red bean buns has developed only recently. Good buns have a warm and sweet red bean filling encased within light and springy dough. Bad buns taste excessively oily and sit in your stomach for hours; an uncomfortable reminder of your gluttonous transgression. This was a bad bun. It looked pallid, felt cold and hard, and tasted stale. The only redeeming feature was the sesame seeds, which provided some nutty respite for the ‘buds.
Unlike red bean buns, ROB take their tarts seriously. They’re stacked up and stored in heated glass containers, which are strategically placed opposite and next to the service counter. It takes an iron will to resist adding one or two to your order. Visually they are very appealing – flaky puff pastry cases and lightly charred custard that gives an early indication of how they taste. Taste-wise, they don’t disappoint. The flaky crunch of the pastry contrasts nicely with the smoothness of the custard. The custard itself is fairly subtle, but the butteriness of the pastry adds a richness that justifies the price.
Overall, ROB’s strengths lie, unsurprisingly, in its beancurd (and egg tarts). It is easily accessible, and attracts a diverse but loyal clientele. It has stood the test of time by providing a no-frills experience that satisfies stomach and wallet alike.