That fluffy, full bodied Gordon’s prawn vadai is back. This addictive little snack, originally from Sri Lanka called Isso Vadai, had been converting makan devotees here since before I learned how to remember. Gordon Koh initially ran a few pubs in Singapore and his main lure in his little pub pantry was his “Singapore style” prawn vadai. You can imagine this with sips of whiskey. Then he retired, went off into the glowing sunset and opened a “retirement pub” in Bangkok at the ripe young age of 75. Then his niece and her makan buddy decided to pull that vadai recipe out of his still active mind and set up Eatz Vadai in this forsaken little charming food centre in the East.
Edward Chan and Gordon’s niece Wendy Koh now helm this little one-snack-stall and it suddenly lent more colour and flavour to this favourite taxi driver kopi haunt (where an uncle still sells a cuppa at 50cents). Flavour in so much that onions and curry leaves are blended into the dough and the aroma and subtle taste comes through. Gordon was there “training and fine tuning the recipe” with the brand new equipment. While they eat it with a sourish yoghurt sambal sauce in Sri Lanka, the version here is loved with raw green chilli, you bite into piping hot prawn vadai and chomp into that crunchy green pepper at the same time. Bliss. “I felt this dish should not fade into the sunset. It is so easy to like yet not many are offering this.” So Edward gave up his former day job as a corporate travel agent and set up Eatz Vadai in early January this year with Wendy. You can count in one hand just how many hawkers offer prawn vadai in Singapore, or Malaysia for that matter (perhaps two hands and a foot). If you are comparing, this is a very different version from the other famous Gina’s Prawn Vadai (basement of Dunman Hawker Centre). Her ones come flatter and thinner with a lighter batter and Edward’s version ($1 each) is bold and yet fluffy with more bite, like a good fluffy doughnut. Three of this will fill you up whereas Gina’s will take up to 5, before your tummy feels the love.
The prawns I like to see them use is the “swa lor” or little soft shelled shrimps which cost more than the garden variety like how Gina does it with. But for now, Edward uses the baby grey prawns that yields a soft yet crunchy bite. Swa Lor prawns are difficult to obtain and stocks from Malaysia are thinning out this festive season. I think the perfect prawn vadai is a meet up in between both the versions- something bold yet light and airy with a clever blend of onions and curry leaves and perhaps a puff of curry powder in the dough using swa lor prawns. But I am still waiting.. Come on folks, it’s not rocket science to set up a shop with such a recipe. Folks of all creed, colour and status love this as a kill-time snack.
Stall 2, Benaan Kapal Hawker Centre (56 Jalan Benaan Kapal)
9am - 5pm closed on Mondays