Biz Man Opens Shop Selling Sedap ‘Giant’ Epok Epok To Provide Jobs For Single Mum & Kids - 8 Days Skip to main content

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Biz Man Opens Shop Selling Sedap ‘Giant’ Epok Epok To Provide Jobs For Single Mum & Kids

The large, tasty puffs at Epok Epok Nyé are made by a single mother and her kids. And they’ve been drawing queues.
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In the past decade, Radin Amir, 54, who runs a dough making business A+ Dough Man, has been helping many single parents by offering them employment.

“As I age, I start to reflect on myself — about what I want to change in my life and how I can help others. In the past, there were a lot of single parents working for me, so that’s how I thought of starting a new business to create [even more] jobs for them,” Amir tells 8days.sg.

He recently opened Epok Epok Nyé, a small, modern-looking halal takeaway shop in a shophouse at Arab Street selling epok epok or very loosely put, Malay-style curry puffs (epok epok traditionally has different ingredients in its less buttery pastry and no curry powder in its filling).

He says he sunk $30K into the shop as sole owner. The store is run by one of his staff, single mum Ruminah Karimon, 46, and her four kids, aged 16 to 26. Ruminah has another young daughter aged six. 

“I have worked for Amir [at his dough biz] for around five years and he is a good friend and mentor to me and my kids. He tells me he wants us to move forward, so he suggested starting this business ’cos he knows I like to make curry puffs,” shares Ruminah.

“He helps single parents like me by creating jobs and there are several others who work for him at his dough shop too. He wants us to be more independent and self-sufficient, instead of just borrowing money from people. When we work, we learn new skills too.”

Besides epok epok, the three-week-old shop also sells other snacks like roti boyan, a round, flattened curry puff-like pastry, and steamed cups of corn.

Amir used to run a popular epok epok stall selling large puffs

The decision to start a curry puff shop was a natural one. Not only does A+ Dough Man supply curry puff dough to businesses, Amir used to run another epok epok stall too.

Almost 10 years ago, he ran Khalsom Street Food at a Sembawang coffee shop with a friend. Originally a nasi padang stall, it later became popular for its huge curry puffs.

“People eat curry puff as a snack, but I see it as a staple food. Things are getting more expensive and people want to fill their stomachs, so we made the curry puffs bigger so they can eat it like a pocket meal,” shares Amir.

Despite flourishing business, he left Khalsom last year so he could set up Epok Epok Nyé.

Curry puff from Old Chang Kee vs Epok Epok Nye’s large offering.

Focused on helping single mums find employment

“Khalsom is doing very well, so I felt it was time to leave and start another business. I didn’t sell the business to my partner or take any money back. Similarly with Epok Epok Nyé, once the kids can run the shop on their own, I will leave [and transfer the biz’s ownership to them] and open another one. We run this like a family business, I am just here to guide them. Hopefully they can become my successor,” he says. 

“Many people asked me why I help others and not myself, but success is not [only] about having money but also satisfaction. I believe when you help someone, you get good karma. For me, living a simple life is enough.”

He adds: “I hope to ultimately start a non-profit initiative [like a soup kitchen] where we offer meals to people for free. It sounds easy, but I will need a lot of support.”

The menu

Epok Epok Nyé currently offers eight flavours of puffs. Besides the classics like curry potato, sardine, and sayur (steamed vegetables), there are newfangled flavours like carbonara, salted egg, and black pepper. Prices start from $2 for the classics to $4 for the carbonara.

Their best sellers are the sardine, curry potato and carbonara. 

The fillings are made from scratch using Ruminah’s and her team’s recipes, while the dough is from A+ Dough Man. According to Amir, the dough is made with a combination of plain and bread flour with butter, “so it is not too soggy or crispy”.

Though the sizable pastries look similar to Khalsom’s, the businesses are not related.

“The only similarity is we use dough from the same supplier. The epok epok are made with different recipes and we have more flavours,” says Ruminah’s daughter Sofiyah Azni, 26.

Great sales since opening on Oct 23

Though Epok Epok Nyé only opened on October 23, word has spread about its huge and tasty curry puffs and it sees queues before it pulls up the shutters at 10am. 

“We prepare around 150 curry puffs when we open and they are snapped up in 15 minutes ’cos some customers buy them in huge quantities,” says Sofiyah.

“We didn’t expect business to be so good. We thought we could take it slow at the beginning, but we are so overwhelmed every day. We sold out at 3pm on our opening day.”

To meet demand, the team now churn out “three times” the number of puffs each day, around 1,000, with limited quantities of the special flavours.

“We are very tired, ’cos we are crimping curry puffs non-stop from morning to night. We have since shortened our opening hours from 10am to 7pm and close on Mondays ’cos we need to rest,” adds Ruminah’s sister Nurzahidah Abubakar (pictured above), 37, who helps out in the kitchen.

There was no queue when 8days.sg dropped by at 3pm on a weekday — there was, however, a constant stream of customers who came to tapow epok epok for tea.

Curry Potato, $2 (8 DAYS Pick!)

The golden pockmarked curry puff is stuffed with curried potato and onion filling and a slice of hard-boiled egg. Cooked with a fragrant homemade rempah, the filling is nicely spiced with a piquant kick, and the satisfyingly crisp, flaky pastry is thin and not too greasy.  And each piece, about double the size of a regular curry puff, is pretty filling — one is enough to make a modest meal.

Sardine, $2 (8 DAYS Pick!)

Compared to the curry potato, this filling is more moist. Chunks of canned sardines are mixed with sambal and chilli padi for a slightly sweet, tangy and spicy filling. A tad fishy but still very moreish.

Carbonara, $4

Though it’s meant to taste like pasta Carbonara, the filling consisting of chicken thigh chunks, button mushrooms, hard-boiled egg, and cheddar cheese reminds us more of chicken pie stuffing. According to Nurzahidah, the pastry is supposed to have cheese pull when eaten hot. Not bad, but the filling could be a little more creamy to boost its overall flavour.

Sayur, $2

Steamed bean sprouts, tofu bits and Chinese chives fill this puff. It’s kinda bland as you are meant to pair it with their sweet-tangy housemade chilli sauce, but the snack felt too clean for our liking.

Roti Boyan, $3.50

Roti boyan is like a circular epok epok. Instead of curry, the chunky potato, onion and celery filling is mildly seasoned with white pepper. The highlight is the accompanying tasty sambal, made with ingredients like ikan bilis, shallots and dried chilli. While we would have liked it with a bit more heat, the savoury sambal, redolent of the salty fish, is a great companion to the roti boyan.

Salted Egg, $3.50

Don’t expect this to be runny like liu sha bao or even taste like it. Instead of molten salted egg filling, the epok epok features diced potato mixed with a paste made with salted egg powder, curry leaves and chilli padi. It’s got a spicy kick, but the salted egg flavour could be more pronounced.

Beef Rendang $3.50

A meaty number packed with potato and bits of beef cooked in a blend of spices including lemongrass, blue ginger, shallots and dried chilli. While the beef was tender, we found the rendang too coconutty, sweet and a little lacking in the spice department. Not our favourite.

Bottom line

While Epok Epok Nyé offers pretty yummy puffs in interesting flavours, we prefer the classics like the $2 sardine and curry potato. Moreover, they’re pretty value-for-money considering their hefty size. Worth a try if you’re in the area, but drop by early if you are eyeing the more modern fillings like the carbonara. We’re told they’re usually sold out by around 3pm. 

The details 

Epok Epok Nye is at 120 Arab St, S199815. Open daily except Mon. 10am - 7pm. More info via Instagram.

Photos: Pyron Tan

No part of this story or photos can be reproduced without permission from 8days.sg.

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