As promised, I’m back with another post about Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring! To recap, I’ll start with a quick background on how I discovered their delicious steamed rice cakes, putu piring – I’ve seen this stall before, regularly when I’m passing by to either enter the mall or head off to the train station (story’s in my previous Haig Road post!). This Northpoint City stall isn’t their main outlet, but it has various items from their menu. I visited it once before a few months ago, after watching the Singapore-themed episode on Netflix’s Street Food. I was most excited to try their durian putu piring, which I’d yet to try until my last visit.
I love hearing stories of family-run establishments and learning about how they’re achieving their dreams and sharing joy through food – which is undoubtedly the universal language of love. One of those special stories from Street Food included Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring. Needless to say, it has expanded since it first opened – both in locations and fans!
Putu piring is steamed rice flour cakes that’s native to Southeast Asia. Piring means ‘saucer’ in English (as in ‘saucer’ from tea sets), which seems to be related to its size. Speaking of tea sets, it’s a wonderful addition to afternoon tea! Putu Piring is filled with sweet fillings – most commonly palm sugar. When I noticed that Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring has durian putu piring on its menu, I wanted to taste it!
Durian is crowned as the king of fruits in Southeast Asia. It’s classified with exotic foods that represent a region, yet challenges your flavor palate and (at times) courage. Others in this debatable category include the Australian Vegemite and Japanese natto.
Singaporeans agree that this fruit unites the nation. As ‘durian’ is the nickname of an iconic theatre that is seemingly architecturally-inspired by the fruit’s exterior (the Esplanade theatre’s domes with their spiky grey-toned façade) in the heart of the city, it’s clearly a trademark flavor that’s been coronated as king.
There isn’t a middle ground to this acquired taste: either you’ll appreciate it to the extent of understanding how this fruit is unofficially celebrated through architecture, or you’ll think its aroma is identical to the scent of Oscar the Grouch’s humble home. As I’d yet to savor durian-based sweets for a while, it was an exciting reunion with a fruit I’ve enjoyed and had great memories with.
The durian rice cakes are cooked identically to the regular palm sugar ones. It’s steamed in metal contraptions. The rice flour mixture goes in first, followed by a thick durian filling that’s added to the middle of each piece. As I was observing this creation come to life, I was getting eager to taste it!
I was expecting a strong durian aroma to linger around, but was pleasantly surprised that the smell wasn’t really strong. As I lifted the box’s lid, I noticed that the durian element certainly looked like durian. From my very first bite, I tasted the smooth durian filling which included the fruit’s flesh. The filling didn’t have an overpowering durian flavor to it (at least to my tongue), but it reminded me of durian pastes and durian-flavored Asian cakes with actual durian in them. It wasn’t too sweet either. I liked the combination of durian with the rice cake’s base.
If you’re wondering what durian tastes like, well… durian tastes like durian. It has its own distinct flavor that isn’t easily likened to other flavors. Also, because its taste is highly subjective to each person’s flavor palate, there isn’t a standard description of its flavor. This is part of its charm. The fruit itself has a bit of sweetness and a creamy texture.
I enjoyed my fix of durian putu piring. If you’re into durians, this is definitely a great treat for you! If you’re thinking of dabbling into the sacred world of durian lovers, it could be a fun introduction to the king of fruits.