I'm always curious to try new food here (although there is some that I know I'll never be able to stomach) and something I've often thought about trying is carrot cake. Anyone reading this from the UK and other places may be forgiven for thinking I'm referring to the cake, that I absolutely adore and have enjoyed many many times. Well no I'm not, rather the locally known carrot cake in my photo below or chai tow kway as it is also called.
I remember when I first arrived here and we visited hawker centres etc. seeing stalls advertising carrot cake and being slightly perplexed that what they were serving clearly was not my western view of what this is. Though you can also get that version in many coffee and cake shops too. This left me curious about this other carrot cake, whether it had carrot in it or not and how on earth it ended up with that name.
The dish does not contain carrot or resemble a cake. It is actually made using radish cake, rice flour and daikon which is a type of radish. Having done a little Internet research it seems the word for daikon can also refer to carrot so perhaps that is how the other name came about? Likewise as it contains radish cake which is made of shredded radish and rice flour perhaps the combination of these two ingredients gave it its name. I don't know if that is a correct assumption to make but I'd love to hear from you if you know the real reason for this alternate name.
Before we went to sample it I'd been told that you can have carrot cake served both black and white, with black containing soy sauce. So we decided to try both, I chose black carrot cake (see photo) and my husband chose the white variety. I couldn't actually taste a lot of difference but I did have a bit of cold when we decided to try the dish so I guess my taste buds were slightly impaired. I'm sure there must be a more perceptible difference than I could detect as I know people do have preferences.
Of course perhaps the most important thing after all that is, did I like it? Yes, despite my slight lack of taste buds that day I did enjoy it, it has a soft, slightly chewy texture to it and was very filling. It is very obviously different to the carrot cake I grew up with and what I'd have been expecting if someone had said they were getting me some when I first came to Singapore. I'd have it again though and I'm glad I decided to finally try it.