Hainanese-style curry puffs will soon be available in London, thanks to the Singaporean Old Chang Kee chain.
It plans its UK debut with an outlet in the capital in the second half of this year offering also mushroom chicken puffs and curry chicken rice sets.
Old Chang Kee is still seeking a suitable site for its JV with Sandra Leong, a Singaporean who has been living in London for six years. She approached the chain last year with the idea of taking its curry puffs to the UK.
“The British love a good curry as much as they love a good pastry. The curry puff is an iconic Singaporean snack that is a marriage of these two great things,” she says. “London is also such a melting pot of international cuisines, so we know there’s a place for Singaporean food here.”
The former Straits Times journalist says the decision to bring Old Chang Kee to London was “purely selfish”.
“As an overseas Singaporean, you always miss the food from back home,” she says. “This was a decision made with the head as well as the stomach.”
Meanwhile, an Old Chang Kee pop-up event in Kentish Town, northwest London, was “overwhelming”, says the company’s group financial controller Song Yeow Chung. About 1200 puffs were snapped up during the two-day event, selling out within four hours each day.
To ensure consistency, a team from Old Chang Kee will be based in London for two weeks to transfer know-how of the cooking process. The curry paste, which is made from a secret blend of spices in Singapore, will be shipped to London regularly.
Like the curry puffs in Singapore, those in London will follow the same semi-automated cooking process. The dough and filling will be made in a central kitchen, but the puffs will be sealed by hand and fried in the shop.
There are plans to open outlets in other cities, including Birmingham and Manchester.
Old Chang Kee started out as a humble curry-puff stall near Rex Cinema in Mackenzie Road in 1956. It was bought by Han Keen Juan 30 years later, who expanded the brand to more than 80 outlets in Hong Kong with nine outlets in Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia.