Wikipedia defines Lontong as "an Asian dish made of compressed rice that is then cut into small cakes". Home-made lontong is possibly rather hard to come by these days. However, on the island of Pulau Ubin exist one such specimen of Lontong that possibly defines what Lontong should be like.
A glimpse of the rare specimen of lontong
Now why do I say this Ubin Lontong is an endangered species? It's not because you can no longer find good lontong else where in Singapore or in the world. Instead, it's this particular lontong that is endemic on Ubin. You cannot find it elsewhere but at Pak Ali's coffeeshop beside the jetty bridge on Pulau Ubin.
Pak Ali's coffeeshop
What more, it's such an rare species that you cannot even find it on other days apart from Sundays before 11am! Sometimes by 10am, it's already gone, grabbed off the shelves by its devoted followers or incidental fans.
Unfortunately, ignorant ape that I am, I have never known of the existence of this delectable lontong till last Sunday (21 Oct) when I visited Chek Jawa with Ria and a few special friends. Before we embarked on our journey, we had a leisurely breakfast, enjoying the heavenly lontong soaked in drool-inducing coconut curry gravy. In fact, just writing this is making me drool uncontrollably again!
Now why is this lontong endangered? Well this delicacy comes from the hands of the macik (auntie) of the establishment, wife of Pak Ali. The couple must be at least 90 years old now and they are still working every day at their coffeeshop under the Assam tree*. Not only do they serve fantastic lontong but the meesiam and mee rebus are also irresistible.
Pak Ali with Dr Chua Ee Kiam, author of the Pulau Ubin: Ours to Treasure book
During Hari Raya, the amazing couple also offers homemade candies and goodies in their coffeeshop. Unfortunately, as with the rest of the aging population, the lontong is under threat as it may very well disappear from the face of this planet when the cook is no longer with us. Where then would we find our Ubin lontong?
Hari Raya goodies at Pak Ali's shop
Even as life and death are part of the natural cycles of our existence, it is unavoidable that one day the Ubin lontong will cease to be. However, let it be remembered that we once had this fantastic lontong and it was delicious!
*I am still looking for the photo I have of the coffeeshop and the Assam tree beside it. Once I find it, I will be sure to share it on Ubin Stories.