Best kaya toast franchise in Singapore
With the latest controversies surrounding recent price hikes at some of these chains, it may seem like your kaya toast set is no longer the affordable meal it used to be. Only one of the five kaya toast sets we tried cost under $6, which may get us rethinking what is otherwise a rather simple meal of eggs, toast and a drink. We set out to try the kaya toast sets on offer at these chains to find out which is the best kaya toast franchise in Singapore worth spending your dollar at.
Table of Contents
The origins of kaya toast
Kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs and a cup of kopi or teh—it’s almost singular in how it is iconic of the typical Singaporean breakfast. The set traces its origins back to the early 20th century when Hainanese immigrants working in colonial households decided to fuse Southeast Asian kaya with the British’s preferred breakfast toast. The rest is history.
While it’s commonly eaten as breakfast, the set is also perfectly satisfying as a snack to get you through the day. You can find kaya toast almost everywhere, but the names that have top-of-the-mind recall are the big franchises which dot the island, namely those we rank on this list.
Cutting to the chase, the players in this game are as follows: Toast Box, Fun Toast, Heavenly Wang, Killiney Kopitiam and Ya Kun Kaya Toast—I visited all of them, located in the immediate vicinity of Orchard MRT Station, in the same day. In the name of fairness, I ordered the most basic set comprising kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs and a good ol’ cup of kopi.
Each of these components is graded out of five, as well as additional criteria covering the value of the set, and accessibility of these franchises.
Kaya toast: The bread that makes up the kaya toast should not taste stale, nor should it be sliced too thick. On that note, the type of bread that’s used also plays a part in the overall flavour. A good kaya toast, in my opinion, should be evenly charred to an adequate degree. Then, I looked at the flavour of the kaya, as well as if butter or margarine was used—butter is superior, and should be creamy, cold and fragrant. There should be a good ratio of both, so that neither is overpowering.
Eggs: First, the size of the eggs, and how cooked they are. The ideal soft-boiled egg should have a creamy, almost custardy yolk. The whites: just set, not too runny, but not firm. Plus points if the yolk has a rich, bodied flavour too, without that slightly funky taste that sometimes puts people off eggs.
Kopi: The flavour and strength of the brew, as well as the ratio of kopi to condensed milk are the key factors to determining a solid cup of kopi.
Value: This looks at the price of the set in relation to the portion sizes, as well as overall satisfaction.
Accessibility: Since we’re looking at franchises, I looked at their presence on the island; the more stores they have, the easier it is to find one.
The best kaya toast franchise in Singapore: a summary
|Price of Kaya Toast Set
|– Kaya has a nice eggy flavor.
|– Margarine has a greasy, unpleasant taste.
|– Large cup of kopi with a strong coffee flavor.
|– Eggs undercooked and watery.
|– Halal-certified eatery.
|– Toast slightly under-toasted.
|– Generous amount of kaya.
|– Butter not as fragrant.
|– Consistently cooked eggs.
|– Eggs on the small side.
|– Large eggs with rich flavor.
|– Toast portion smaller compared to other chains.
|– Nicely toasted bread.
|– Excessive amount of margarine.
|– Widely accessible with 78 outlets islandwide.
|– Bread can feel stale when cooled.
|– Most affordable set at under $6.
|– Kaya sweeter than others, may not appeal to everyone’s taste.
|– Balanced sweetness in kopi.
|– Eggs less cooked, yolks more runny than preferred.
|– Good amount of kaya in toast.
|Ya Kun Kaya Toast
|– Best overall franchise
|– Kaya toast price increased from $4.80 to $6.30, leading to customer backlash.
|– Fragrant kaya with evenly cooked eggs.
|– Kaya portion could be more generous.
|– Most accessible with 79 outlets locally.
|– Small cup of kopi compared to other chains.
5. Killiney Kopitiam
With just 35 outlets islandwide, it’s the least likely that you’ll stumble across a Killiney Kopitiam store. Fun fact: it’s also the oldest chain on this list, founded in 1919! On this occasion, it was the International Building outlet that I visited, and I ordered a Butter Kaya Toast Set. At $6.80, this was also the most expensive set out of the five.
As far as kaya toasts go, the bread here is on the thick side, with two fat slices cut into four. On my visit, they weren’t evenly toasted, though the bread on its own had a touch of sweetness, and a nice chew to it.
There was very little of their rather custardy kaya, which some might like. It’s not smooth, but it had a nice eggy flavour to it. Unfortunately, several things put me off this kaya toast: the margarine, which only came in small, thin squares, was positioned in a corner of each slice. More than that, it had a greasy, unpleasant flavour that saw me putting down my toast at once.
Of all the eggs I had that day, the pair that I was served at Killiney Kopitiam was the most undercooked. You have to crack them yourself, and they poured out of their shell with a good bit of uncooked egg whites, which was rather unappetising.
I felt like I was drinking an egg soup when I had these.
Finally, the kopi. It had a strong coffee flavour, but was rather diluted. Perhaps it was an off day for this outlet, but it turned out to be the weakest overall, and I was uninspired to continue eating my set.
Kaya toast: 2/5
Total: 11/25 (44%)
Website | Full list of outlets
Killiney Kopitiam is not a halal-certified eatery.
4. Heavenly Wang
In spite of a history that dates back to 1953, Heavenly Wang only has 27 outlets in Singapore, which makes them the smallest kaya toast franchise on this list. The store I visited is in Basement Two of Takashimaya, and they’re often pretty crowded throughout the day.
The Kaya Butter Set here costs $6, AKA the second-cheapest set of the ones I tried. Their toast comes in thin slices, or rather a single slice that’s further halved quite evenly.
It was a little under-toasted, but crisp nonetheless, and the bread was mild-tasting on its own, sandwiching a thicc square of cold butter, which was creamy but not as fragrant and salted as I would have preferred.
I liked how generous they were with the kaya here, complementing the amount of butter in each slice of toast. It was smooth and richly flavoured, with heavier coconut notes so take note of this, if that’s not the flavour profile you enjoy.
Of the eggs I had that day, Heavenly Wang’s yolks were the most beautiful, with a custardy consistency which I adored, though the eggs were on the small side. They’re also possibly going to be the most consistently cooked of the lot, seeing as I saw an automated egg boiler on the counter.
This set came with a large cup of kopi which was a tad milkier than at Killiney, but rich and thick with an almost-syrupy mouthfeel. There’s potentially a greater amount of condensed milk in this, lending to that richness, however this also makes this cuppa sweeter overall. I personally liked this since it tempered any bitterness in the roast.
Kaya toast: 3.5/5
Total: 16/25 (64%)
Website | Full list of outlets
Heavenly Wang is a halal-certified eatery.
3. Toast Box
Another brand to receive flack for raising their prices also happens to be the youngest franchise of the five: Toast Box, which was founded in 2005 and belongs to the greater umbrella company of Breadtalk Group. There are 78 outlets islandwide at point of writing, just one shy of Ya Kun Kaya Toast, so making them the second-easiest kaya toast shop to spot in Singapore.
This Traditional Kaya Toast Set will set you back $6.20, with the toast portion coming across looking rather sad. Where Killiney also uses the same kind of thick white bread, you get two slices there, versus the one here, split in half so it’s thinner on the whole—and you only get one slice.
Plus points for how it’s nicely toasted, but when it had cooled, and I tasted the un-grilled bits, the bread felt a little stale and dry. This was, by the way, at their ION Orchard store, located deep underground on Basement Four.
Popping it open revealed the most generous slab of margarine of all the kaya toasts I tried. Toast Box is known for their iconic “butter mountain” which you’ll see behind the counter at every store, but I felt that there was too much of it. Because it’s soft and served at room temperature, it came across slightly greasy, overpowering the aromatic Hainanese kaya they use.
Toast Box’s eggs were by far the largest, with super large, orangey yolks, and were, on the whole, soft-boiled to just the right point of doneness—both whites and yolk.
While the yolks didn’t have that custardy texture that I prefer, they were the richest in flavour.
On the value note, the mug of kopi was also the biggest, though not very strong. Flavour-wise, it wasn’t particularly siap, AKA astringent, nor bitter.
Kaya toast: 2.5/5
Total: 17.5/25 (70%)
Website | Full list of outlets
Toast Box is not a halal-certified eatery.
2. Fun Toast
Fun Toast, as I found out while writing this article, was not always called Fun Toast. They began as Kheng Nam Hong back in 1941—making them even older than Ya Kun—and are co-run today by the grandson-in-law of the original founder. With 48 outlets around town, they’re not the most commonly found, but not the hardest to chance upon either.
I visited their Wisma Atria outlet and ordered the Kaya Butter Toast Set, priced at a most affordable $5.90—the only set that rang in the till at sub-$6. I was pleasantly surprised by their toast, prepared also with the traditional brown bread, sliced in half, though not as thin, even, nor crisp as Ya Kun’s.
Unlike at Ya Kun, there was more kaya in this toast, but it’s sweeter, which then boils down to a matter of preference, if you don’t mind the sugary oomph. I appreciated the cold slab of butter, sandwiched nicely in the middle of each section, but it was still lacking that fragrance.
Their soft-boiled eggs were nothing to shout about, lacking that rich flavour of those at Toast Box, and of average size. They could do with a little more cooking, but you wouldn’t say they’re underdone like the eggs I had at Killiney Kopitiam. Compared to Ya Kun’s eggs, these were less cooked, with the yolks still more runny than I was looking for.
Though I had liked the kopi at Heavenly Wang, it did err on being a touch sweeter, so the coffee at Fun Toast edged it out for being tuned to a well-balanced level of sweetness, without being too milky. It was nicely gao too, with a robust flavour and it came in a good-sized mug.
Kaya toast: 4/5
Total: 19.5/25 (78%)
1. Ya Kun Kaya Toast
Coming in at the undisputed top of this list, reigning supreme both in my own heart and I’m sure for many Singaporeans, is the one and only Ya Kun Kaya Toast. Its rapid expansion since 1999, when founder Loi Ah Koon’s son took over the reins, has seen them grow to 79 outlets locally, including the store in ION Orchard which I visited, and franchised across more than 10 countries worldwide.
There’s nothing like biting into a perfectly crisp piece of kaya toast, with each slice of nutty-tasting brown bread cut cleanly in half.
Yes, the cold butter doesn’t cover every inch of kaya, but it’s just as fragrant as the kaya—there’s a reason why every tourist wants to bring a jar of Ya Kun kaya home with them, and it’s on the packing lists of Singaporeans moving overseas. My only quibble is that there wasn’t very much of the kaya.
Moving on to their eggs—I found the whites a tad watery around the edges, but they were overall more evenly cooked than at Fun Toast, with the majority of the egg whites slightly more firm.
Further proof of the eggs being cooked just right is how the yolks had achieved that oozing, semi-molten finish.
One might also say that their little cup of kopi is just the right size, though it seems less worth it as compared to the bigger mugs at other chains. It’s small, but it still packs a punch, and was one of the stronger brews I had, with a darker, less milky flavour and a teensy bit of sourness at the end.
A Set A, or Kaya Toast with Butter Set, at Ya Kun costs $6.30, which all things considered is still fairly reasonable given what the market prices are and how satisfying the set was. Still, given the fact that their sets were $4.80 at the start of 2022, I definitely understand the backlash against their price hikes to date.
Kaya toast: 4.5/5
Total: 21.5/25 (86%)
Where to find the best kaya toast in Singapore
As with everything that’s not made with automated processes, there’s so much room for human error in most of the elements that make up each kaya toast set: slicing and toasting the bread, spreading the kaya and butter, cooking the eggs, and making each drink. There are good days and bad days for everyone, and the ratings in this article are solely based on what I had on my visit.
In summary, here’s the best in class of each category:
- Best overall: Ya Kun Kaya Toast
- Best kaya toast: Ya Kun Kaya Toast
- Best eggs: Toast Box
- Best kopi: Fun Toast
- Best value: Fun Toast
- Most accessible: Ya Kun Kaya Toast
If you love kaya toast, check out our YouTube video on some of the best non-franchised kaya toast stores in Singapore!
Photos taken by Michelle P, and edited by Melvin Mak.
This was an independent visit by Eatbook.sg
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