Rolina traditional Hainanese curry puffs at Tanjong Pagar

Rolina traditional Hainanese curry puffs at Tanjong Pagar

rolina curry puff flatlay

Curry puffs are a childhood favorite for many of us. These palm-sized snacks come deep-fried to a crispy crust and wrapped in a savory, spicy chicken curry or sardine filling. A noteworthy position is Rolina Traditional Hainanese Curry Puffswho has been making these golden cakes since 1958.

Rolina is currently run by second generation owner Mr. Bren Tham who took over the business about 10 years ago. What was once a humble cart outside the Novena church more than 50 years ago is now a hawker stall in Tanjong Pagar Square Market and Food Center.

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Meal in Rolina Traditional Hainanese Curry Puffs

These golden treats won a Michelin Bib Gourmand award in 2018, so I had high hopes for them. Mr. Tham makes everything from scratch, from the batter to the curry filling, which features a secret rempah blend consisting of many spices that he refuses to divulge.

fried rolina curry puff

There are only two flavors of puff pastry available: Chicken Curry and Egg ($1.80) Y Sardine ($1.80). Both options had a thin crust and a substantial amount of filling, albeit with a visible air pocket from the frying that made it seem less than expected.

Mr Tham explained that the recipe was passed down by a sailor who taught his father how to make them. Its thin crust is the same as its predecessor, aligned with what used to be the standard shape of curry puffs back in the day. Apparently the flaky curry puffs are the latter days iteration.

rolina curry puff picking up

Unfortunately, I found the crust quite nondescript and a bit tough for my taste. The puffs arrived hot, but the quality of the crust deteriorated quickly, so I recommend consuming them as soon as possible.

rolina curry puff closeup

Nonetheless, the curry stuffing was incredibly tasty, thanks to the rempah that was painstakingly prepared the day before. The chicken and potato pieces were tender, as they should be, while the egg piece provided a variation in texture.

Although the curry was full of flavour, I wished it was spicier.

rolina curry puff pastry sardine closeup

The sardine version was delicious too, with generous chunks of flaked fish and green chilli for an extra layer of flavor. However, it did have that fishy taste that some may not be a fan of.

Each puff is handmade and assembled on the day it is baked, then fried in batches, so they are as fresh as possible.

rice with puff pastry rolina curry

While the puffs were decent, it was the Glutinous rice ($2.50) That really took the cake for me. Also known as nuo mi fan (糯米饭), this Teochew-style sticky rice turned out to be a personal favorite.

Steamed to perfection, soft and chewy, the savory rice was incredibly flavorful but not too greasy. In short, he reminded me of home.

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Atmosphere at Rolina Traditional Hainanese Curry Puffs

rolina curry puff storefront

The stall is located on the second floor of the market and food center, which is a five-minute walk from Tanjong Pagar MRT Station.

ambience rolina curry puff

It’s a fairly small hawker center with popular eats like Kueh Ho Jiak, so you can fill up on more substantial fare after taking bites. Pick a table near the windows for more of a breeze, and be sure to avoid the lunch rush crowd if you can.

The verdict

rolina curry puff verdict

It’s the time-tested curry puff recipe that earned Rolina Traditional Hainanese Curry Puffs their Michelin chops, but I’d love to see Mr. Tham bring out more innovative flavors to come. If you’re visiting the stall, do yourself a favor and grab some sticky rice too, you won’t be disappointed!

For more neighborhood food, read our Tanjong Pagar food guide, including muffins, ramen, and more. We’ve also got a guide to the best Korean restaurants in Tanjong Pagar and the CBD for hearty army hotpot, Korean barbecue, and more.

Address: 6 Tanjong Pagar Plaza Market and Food Centre, #02-15, Singapore 081006
Opening hours: Wednesday to Monday from 6:30 am to 2 pm
Telephone: 9235 8093
Website
Rolina Traditional Hainanese Curry Puffs is not a halal certified restaurant, but does not use pork or lard.

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Photos taken by John Lery Villanueva.
This is an independent review of Eatbook.sg.

Rolina’s Traditional Hainanese Curry Puffs Review: Michelin-Approved Handmade Curry Puffs Since 1958

  • Rolina’s Traditional Hainanese Curry Puffs Review: Michelin Approved Handmade Curry Puffs Since 1958 – 7/10

7/10

Summary

advantage

– The puff pastry fillings were tasty
– The sticky rice was delicious
– Convenient location

Cons

– The crust was a bit hard
– Limited variety of puffs

Recommended dishes: Sticky rice ($2.50), chicken curry and egg puff pastry ($1.80)

Opening hours: Wednesday to Monday 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Address: 6 Tanjong Pagar Plaza Market and Food Centre, #02-15, Singapore 081006

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