Before the trend of hipster and thematic eateries, there were the old-school ones, just simple family-run establishments that serve up good grub. These are the original spots where our parents and even grandparents used to eat at during their youth.
Sure, they may not dish out fancy culinary skills or possess any aesthetic qualities worthy of the ‘gram’, but what you can expect are honest food and a homely atmosphere. Here are 9 old-school eateries that you should visit before they officially become history.
#1 ANANDA BHAVAN RESTAURANT
Established in 1924, Ananda Bhavan Restaurant is the oldest Indian vegetarian restaurant in Singapore. The very first restaurant that opened was located along Selegie Road, at the rim of Little India and is a popular spot among locals.
Ananda Bhavan has many traditional snacks and tiffin dishes on its menu with their thosai, thali sets and bhatura being crowd favourites.
58 Serangoon Road
Tel: +65 6396 5464
Daily: 7.30am – 10pm
Nearest Station: Little India
#2 BISCUIT KING
If you happen to be an avid fan of nostalgia and all things authentically Singaporean, then Biscuit King is a place you most definitely have to check out. Stepping into this humble snack shop will transport you back to your beloved childhood days—that is if you happen to be born before the late 90s.
Biscuit King is an old-school tidbit and toy wonderland that brims with nostalgia. From iconic past-times such as ‘pick-up sticks’ and ‘snakes and ladders’ that we used to indulge in back in primary school, to childhood snack time favourites such as iced gems to pineapple jam biscuits, this is a place worth checking out no matter which generation you belong to.
130 Casuarina Road
Tel: +65 6458 0925
Tue to Sun: 11am – 10pm
(Closed on Monday)
Nearest Station: Yio Chu Kang
#3 GUAN HOE SOON
Guan Hoe Soon is a hidden gem in Joo Chiat that has dedicated itself to Peranakan cuisine ever since 1953. The restaurant might be a little bit of a hassle to get to unless you drive, but the food speaks of something worth the effort of getting to.
Here is where you can get proper Peranakan food as good as the ones your Nonya grandparents used to whip up (if you ever had any). Expect the classics such as their Ayam Buah Keluak, Assam Fish and Babi Panggang.
40 Joo Chiat Place
Tel: +65 6344 2761
Mon to Fri: 11am – 3pm, 6pm – 9.30pm
Sat to Sun: 11am – 3pm, 5.30pm – 9.30pm
Nearest Station: Eunos
#4 KENG ENG KEE SEAFOOD
Starting out as a Hainanese chicken rice stall and progressively transforming itself into a zi char stall in the 1970s, Keng Eng Kee Seafood is one of the more prominent standouts in the sea of zi char stalls in Singapore.
Dishes that come highly recommended include the Salted Egg Crab, Fried Hor Fun and Coffee Pork Ribs, but as much as those items are our all-time must-haves whenever we go there, most, if not all their dishes are pretty spot on as well.
124 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-136
Tel: +65 6272 1038
Daily: 11.30am – 2.30pm, 5pm – 10pm
Nearest Station: Queenstown
#5 LOVE CONFECTIONERY
When it comes to traditional confectioneries done right, nothing beats a good-old vintage bakery or confectionery. One such confectionery that still stands and is still a perennial favourite among many Singaporeans, is Love Confectionery.
At this neighbourhood bakery located in Alexandra Village, you won’t find dainty designs or out-of-this-world flavour pairings. Instead, what you can be sure of, are rich, sweet and intensely flavoured cakes that will no doubt have you yearning for the gym after—from their oh-so-decadent buttercream cake and their ever-popular, pandan chiffon cake.
122 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-60
Tel: +65 6278 2385
Daily: 12pm – 9pm
Nearest Station: Queenstown
#6 RED STAR RESTAURANT
Perhaps one of the few remaining authentic, old-school dim sum restaurants in Singapore—that comes with middle-aged ladies pushing food carts around with a myriad of edible dim sum treats—is Red Star Restaurant.
Red Star is nowhere near any of the finer dining dim sum concepts around, in fact, far from it. But what it can promise you, is an exceptional dim sum meal that will leave you full and happy.
54 Chin Swee Road #07-23
Tel: +65 6532 5266
Mon to Sat: 8am – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm
Sun: 7am – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm
Nearest Station: Clarke Quay
#7 SINGAPORE ZAM ZAM
Serving up delicious murtabak since 1908, Singapore Zam Zam is a humble restaurant located along North Bridge Road that is no stranger to locals—especially the meat lovers. Our personal favourites include the mutton murtabak that sees generous amounts of minced mutton, egg and onions as well as the chicken murtabak that uses shreds of chicken instead. But of course, mixing your meats is an option as well so go right ahead and ask the staff.
697-699 North Bridge Road
Tel: +65 6298 6320
Daily: 7am – 11pm
Nearest Station: Bugis
#8 TONG AH EATING HOUSE
Previously located in an iconic red and white building, Tong Ah Eating House is a traditional coffee shop that has been around since 1939 and has gained recognition for both its charcoal-toasted and steamed kaya toast.
While there is no lack of kaya toast sets in Singapore, Tong Ah Eating House is one of those eateries that keeps customers going back for more. Everything is kept simple—from the modest wall decorations to their humble kaya toast and coffeeshop-style coffee.
35 Keong Saik Road
Tel: +65 6223 5083
Daily: 7am – 10pm
Nearest Station: Outram Park
#10 YET CON RESTAURANT
Yet Con Restaurant is pretty much an institution as far as Hainanese chicken rice is concerned. Having been in business since 1940, this restaurant was around even during the Japanese occupation in Singapore.
Comprising simply steamed chicken and rice, Yet Con takes it a notch higher by making their rice considerably more flavourful and fragrant than your typical chicken rice. They even have hot pot options in addition to chicken rice for those of you in need of a more substantial meal.
25 Purvis Street
Tel: +65 6337 6819
Daily: 10am – 7pm
Nearest Station: City Hall