One of the perks of being a Research and Development chef is doing tastings at other restaurants. When I was apart of the R&D team several years ago, my fellow colleague and I would occasionally visit other eateries for inspiration. On one of our trips, we wanted to try Susan Feniger’s The Street, located in Hollywood, CA. Unfortunately, they close during the lunch and dinner shift so I was unable to sample her food. About a year later, I finally made it over there and was able to taste her famous kaya toast with an egg.
This dish is the one that everyone goes to The Street for. It’s been a while since I had the kaya toast, but I still think about it once in a while. I just learned that the restaurant is now closed, so I have no other choice than to prepare the kaya toast myself. Here is my recreation of the delicious snack.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
What is kaya toast? It’s a popular Malaysian snack, that can also be found in Singapore, consisting of coconut jam (kaya) spread on toast. It can be served by itself or dipped in a soft-boiled egg.
To make the coconut jam, you will need a special ingredient called pandan. Pandan leaves are sold either dried or fresh, and even frozen in Asian markets where it is not locally grown. The addition of this plant enhances the other flavors of the jam and works especially well with desserts. I was unable to find pandan leaves so I decided to omit it from the jam. You can use pandan extract, but be careful because it is very concentrated; you will probably only need one drop of extract.
Although kaya refers to a coconut jam, I think of it as more of a custard. When I think of jam, I think of a thick, concentrated substance. Kaya is made from an egg base, making it more similar to a custard.
Although the Feniger uses Pullman bread (basically white bread), I went with raisin challah. I thought the buttery raisin bread would complement the coconut jam perfectly; use whichever bread you prefer.
Instead of toasting the bread first, I spread the kaya toast on one slice, sandwiched it with another slice and toasted the “sandwich” on a pan with melted butter over low heat (like how you would make grilled cheese).
I have to admit, I was surprised at how easy this dish was easy to prepare. It was exactly like the kaya toast served from Susan Feniger’s restaurant! Even though I didn’t have pandan, the jam was still sweet with the perfect amount of coconut. The best part? Dunking it in the runny egg. Drizzling the dark soy sauce adds another element to the dish, making it less of a dessert and more of a breakfast. Kaya toast for breakfast every day!
Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.