Kim Choo Kueh Chang: Ba Chang

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ED: When I think Chinese traditional foods, I think Ba Chang. Ba Chang are traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar commemorating the death of Qu Yuan, a famous poet, who was passionately concerned about the fate of his government. His feelings of concern was so strong that when the state’s capital was over-thrown, he drowned himself in the Miluo River out of despair. His fellow Chinese people searched for their beloved poet in the river, meanwhile dropping dumplings of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves into the river, in order to keep the fishes from attacking Qu Yuan’s body. So that’s the story behind the Chinese Ba Chang. But do pardon me when I say this very day doesn’t mean much to me, because if you love these little bundles of joy as much as I do, everyday is Ba Chang Day.

When I was younger I used to think I could only get to eat Ba Chang only during the Dragon Boat Festival. But oh, how very wrong was I! One can satisfy cravings for these festive treats at several traditional Ba Chang shops around the island. However, it isn’t common to find our youth craving for such “uncool” food products. It is a sad fact that the younger generations are losing touch with their roots and traditions. I strongly feel for this particular tradition and feel that it must ALWAYS be practiced and carried on for the years to come. Even till the day mankind has developed light sabers and achieved light speed travels.

A bullock cart driver stopping by for some Ba Chang

My favorite place to get a Ba Chang would be at Kim Choo Kueh Chang at 60 Joo Chiat Place, situated right beside ever popular Fei Fei Wonton Mee King. I can never help but stop by for some delicious wonton mee first before buying some Ba Chang home! Kim Choo Kueh Chang is the same old shop house as it used to be since the good old days, where the founding fathers from China bundled together to sell these dumplings.

Meat candy. Sweet minced meat for stuffing

The bamboo leaves are folded and half-filled with rice, topped with meat and covered again with rice and wrapped

The sweetest lady boss

I stepped into the shop, which has dumplings sprouting out everywhere, to find out about the history behind this secret little dumpling shop and was greeted by the lady boss, a sweet old lady with a heart warming smile. She treated me like her grandson, offering me apples and soft drinks, while she shared with me photos of her family and the founding fathers. She showed me photos of her family and kids and I commented to her how pretty she was.

I asked how long has she been making Ba Chang but she couldn’t remember and showed me her over worked hands and replied “decades”.

Founding fathers of Kim Choo Kueh Chang

While looking at this photo, her warm smile didn’t fade as she explained their passing. 1 was a rather tragic car accident, another from old age and another etc and I could feel her fondness and love for them. She then offered me some Ba Chang to take home which I couldn’t say no even if I wanted to! So I took my two top favorites, their famous best selling Nonya Chang and their Hokkien Chang.

Many types of Chang for sale

Left to right – Hokkien Chang, Nonya Chang

Hokkien

The rice was really tender and gummy, having a light bouncy texture to it and is fragrant and tasty! There was a good amount of fatty minced meat and a juicy Shitake mushroom in it, hence giving it its moistness and would cause anyone’s, who has tasted this delicacy before, mouth to water. But the main reason I rate this the best Hokkien Chang ever is the rice! Its really as perfect as anyone can ever cook glutinous rice.

This little Nonya is exploding with meat candy! It’s sweet, wholesome, tasty, moist and exploding with meat, I repeat. I would marry any little Nonya, who creates Ba Chang as good as this. True story. Any interested applicants please send me some of your Ba Chang thank you.

Aside from these two favorites of mine, another one would be the Cantonese Chang, which contains meat, chestnuts and sweet bean paste, which is so delicious combined together. It’s like a package from heaven. In fact I’ve got some in my fridge now and I’m gonna have them for breakfast. Muah ha ha.

60 Joo Chiat Place

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