When I was young, I remember the satay man would appear at 5pm below my flat at the going of his ‘honk’. Excitedly, I would pass a large milo tin down using a rope, with some money inside, and pull a packet of satay up to the 2nd floor where I stayed. Those were the times when fishball noodles were 50 cents, and the ding ding candy uncle was just outside my school with a chisel and metal container.
Those were the days.
I am glad that there is a Singapore Memory Project to capture and document precious moments and memories related to Singapore. Imagine showing these memories to your grandchildren! Ever since I heard about the project, I have been hashtagging my relevant instagram photos and tweets with #SgMemory. They do not need to be entirely retro items, because what is new today will be history tomorrow.
While I love exploring new food and restaurants, there is still an ‘oldie’ in me which crave for old-school food. Perhaps that is why I was invited to lead (like a tour guide) a group of food bloggers on a Singapore Nostalgic Food Tour. Of course I need to thank my facebook & twitter followers because they made several of the suggestions.
Zam Zam Restaurant
697-699 North Bridge Road (Bugis MRT) Tel: +65 6298 6320. Opening Hours: 8am – 11pm Daily
Zam Zam opposite the famous Sultan Mosque is popular with its Nasi Briyani and Murtabak. Do you know that they have been around since 1908? That makes it 105 years old!
It was started in 1908 by Mr Abdul Kadir from Kerala South India and is currently run by his grandson. The name “Zam Zam” comes from the well which is drunk during the Haji pilgrimage and has special significance to the Muslims.
The restaurant is supremely crowded, the service staff has a sense of arrogance, and note that you MUST order either a briyani ($6.80) or murtabak ($8.00) if you sit on the second level. Some say the murtabak is the best in Singapore; while others may have said the standard has dropped. Still, how many restaurants in Singapore can say they have been around more than a century?
Rich and Good Cake Shop
24 Kandahar St, Singapore 198887 (Bugis MRT), Tel: +65 6294 3324
Rich and Good Cake Shop, relatively much younger at about 20 years, is known for its incredible swiss rolls. Run by Mdm Lily Liu, fans swear by its fluffy and soft swiss rolls, with a variety of fillings such as kaya, durian, mango, coffee, green tea, strawberry and blueberry.
You will find the shop hidden at Kampong Glam (known as the Arab Quarters), with a rather ethnic and elegant architectural design. Basically, you join in a queue, go into the bakery, make your orders, and walk out with long peach coloured boxes containing swiss rolls best enjoyed with a cup of teh tarik.
Seow Choon Hua Restaurant
33 Sultan Gate, Singapore 198481 (Bugis MRT), Tel:+65 6298 2720, Opening Hours: 10:00 am–10:00 pm
How many people still make Foo Chow fishballs the traditional way, by hands? This 70 years-old eatery still does. Come afternoon, you will see two aunties seated by the corner table, painstakingly wrapping each fishball with minced meat. There are four types of fish: ikan parang, grouper, red fish and yellow eel used for each. The result is an unevenly shaped bouncy fishball full of goodness as each bite comes with savoury pork within.
I also wonder if women in confinement still take Red Wine Chicken with Mee Sua. It supposedly builds up the immune system and benefits health. All is know is, the men at the table all liked this dish. This version is not as heavy, rich and oily as some mother-in-laws would cook. You can also buy a bottle of their pre-mix to make at home.
Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry
55 Tiong Bahru Road #01-39 Singapore 160055 (Tiong Bahru MRT) Tel:+65 6324 1686. Opening Hours: 9:00am – 9:00pm (Tues – Sun)
Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry first opened in 1975 near Killiney Road till it gave way to urban modernization at Orchard. It moved to Tiong Bahru and started selling traditional Nonya kuehs taught by the grandmother.
As owner Jenny Tan was introducing several of the kueh kueh, I am guilty to say I have never tried half of them. This is excellent food history lesson! Their variety include the orange Pandan Tapioca Cake (60 cent) Kueh Lapis (90 cents), Ondeh Ondeh (60 cents), Lemper Udang with sambal shrimp ($1.20), Kueh Kosoi (70 cents), Kueh Ambon honeycomb cake ($1.20) and Kueh Salat (90 cent).
Most were so smooth and not overly sweet that we couldn’t stop eating! There is something about handmade cakes that factory-made ones cannot replace.
My Home, My Library – Showcase of Treasure Moments
Our last stop was at Queenstown library for the ‘My Home, My Library’ exhibition national wide across 24 libraries in Singapore. As part of the Singapore Memory Project, these libraries are showcasing unforgettable memories and stories of people, places and events relating to their homes, neighborhood and libraries (till 29th April 2013).
This is such a meaningful initiative, and if you want to be a part of it, you can:
– Share your memories at SingaporeMemory.SG web portal
– Download the free SGMemory iPhone app
– Make your way to the libraries, Snap and Share your picture of the exhibition on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #SgMemory. You can win up to $200 shopping vouchers in the weekly Snap & Share contest!
This is the Food Bloggers picture featuring Cuisine Paradise, Melicacy, Camemberu, and Keropokman. I want to see your version too! And oh, if you do come across some food representative of Singapore, other than hashtagging #SgMemory on Twitter and Instagram, tag @DanielFoodDiary as well. I want to try more nostalgic food!
*Thank you to the Singapore Memory Project and Tribal DDB Singapore for the opportunity to lead this Nostalgic Food Tour.