SALT Magazine - - Feature - D’Selera Menanti (21 Mar­sil­ing Lane, #01-120)

Wake up by mid­night, start cook­ing by 2am, serve up food by 5am. That has been the rou­tine for Madam Ai­dah and her fam­ily for over 20 years at D’Selera Menanti, which serves up well-loved Malay dishes such as nasi am­beng, nasi ra­won, mee siam, as well as the very unique laksa Siglap.

An heir­loom recipe passed down by the Malay com­mu­nity liv­ing in Kam­pung Siglap, laksa Siglap uses not just co­conut milk for its broth, but rather a blend of co­conut flesh and co­conut milk, fully util­is­ing the co­conut—a multi-pur­pose fruit. A blend of lemon­grass, gar­lic, kerisik (toasted co­conut shav­ings), turmeric, and a fish-based stock (made from ikan parang or wolf her­ring, or ikan kem­bong) com­plete the broth.

The noo­dles used in laksa Siglap are un­com­mon. They re­sem­ble sil­ver nee­dle noo­dles (mee tai bak), but are not as short, and lack the ta­pered ends. Th­ese slightly chewy noo­dles are made from a com­bi­na­tion of rice flour and tapi­oca starch.

While laksa Siglap noo­dles used to be hand­shaped in the past, to­day, D’Selera Menanti has to rely on noo­dles from a sup­plier in or­der to con­tinue mak­ing ev­ery­thing else in their shop from scratch, such as shap­ing begedels and fry­ing their own rem­pah. But it wasn’t al­ways about stand­ing in front of a wok for Madam Ai­dah, who spent 11 years in an un­sat­is­fy­ing cor­po­rate job. She de­cided to use her sav­ings to start some­thing that would bring joy to her­self and other peo­ple, and her love for cook­ing steered her to­wards start­ing D’Selera Menanti. When asked if she would change any­thing given a chance to redo her life, Madam Ai­dah as­serts con­fi­dently “No. I give my 100 per cent for ev­ery­thing, even if what I give can’t al­ways please ev­ery­one.” How­ever, the long queues that snake daily from D’Selera Menanti seem to prove oth­er­wise.

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