Tower Toast is a typical hawker centre bakery: low-key and easily overlooked. It gives the impression of being subordinate to its ritzier neighbours; its wares do not grab your attention, neither does the dated green signage. The server – a middle-aged man with mottled yellow teeth and an appealing insouciance – was more occupied by his phone than his business. But he was attentive in his own, quiet way, and seemed genuinely happy when I told him I’m a fan of tau sar piah.
Tower Toast sells the usual assortment of Singa-centric baked goods: muffins, savoury and sweet buns, pandan and coffee cakes, and some intriguingly named “Mexican” lattice-type things. Each comes individually wrapped in thick plastic; a shameful waste that is de rigeur in Singapore’s snackeries, where even turning down a plastic bag can cause offence…
665 Buffalo Road, Tekka Food Centre, #01-305
COCONUT BUN (SGD 1.00)
I actually asked for a red bean bun, but was given coconut instead. I didn’t complain, as it turned out to be a bit of a dark horse. The best part was the filling – the coconut was a deep and natural brown colour, and the flavour was rich and buttery. More moist than I had anticipated, the saltiness of the butter really helped moderate the sweetness of the coconut and gula melaka. The bun itself was a little soft but, again, had a good colour to it. Nicely priced, too.
The filling of tau sar piah is usually either sweet or salty, but this one seemed to be a bit of both. In other words, it tasted a bit like everything and a lot like nothing. That said, for me the measure of a TSP sits more with the outer shell than it does the filling. A good one should be flaky, crisp and flavoursome in its own right; this one was stodgy and lifeless. The most interesting part was the wonderfully bold Chinese character stamped on top.
A nondescript place that has its charms. Go early in the day, as the baked stuff will undoubtedly be fresher and more abundant in variety. Even the TSP may be worth a second chance at the crack of dawn!