Restoring the flavours of your childhood delicacies.
Missing your childhood cakes? I have compiled a list of old-school bakeries and confectioneries in Singapore, which you can revisit to bring back some sweet flavours and memories of the past. Simply because I grew up with them and I remembered how all these colourful variety of cakes and pastries indulged me in simple joys.
Sadly, many old school bakeries are shutting down. I guess with Singaporean youths living increasingly frenetic pace of life, as well as our city progressing so rapidly in culinary sophistication, many of such neighbourhood nonya cake shops are slowly being phased out with the widespread opening of modern cake shops and bakery franchises.
Nevertheless, some of the better-known and long-established bakeries and confectioneries are still here to stay. I am grateful indeed, that there are still avenues for me to source for and satisfy my cravings for some sweet treats of the past, as well as to satiate my hunger for nostalgia. So here’s my list.
1. Balmoral Bakery
For more than half a century, Balmoral Bakery has been selling cakes and pastries which portray an English culture and nostalgia. It was founded by Hainanese “Ah Gors” (big brothers) as a counterpart to the famous Balmoral Steak House located at Holland Village.
Balmoral Bakery is reputed for its golden, crusty pastries such as their signature chicken pie, curry puff and samosa. On top of these, they offer a really large array of bakes, which includes butter cakes, cream horns and rum balls. Also not forgetting their moist, fluffy and flavourful cakes that makes for good celebratory cakes. Hence, continuing to appeal to loyal customers, both young and old.
Balmoral Bakery: 105 Clementi Rd St 12, #01-06, Singapore 120105 | Tel: +65 6779 2064 | Website
2. Chin Mee Chin Confectionery
Stepping into this bakery kopitiam indeed ignites a sense of nostalgia. The old school tile designs of the walls and flooring greets me with a delighting warmth of familial love and camaraderie, as I ready myself to get my breakfast fix before a day of work and chores.
Patrons have a selection of warm and good eats to kickstart their day on a bright note. My favourite is the kaya bread. The spread is sweet and savoury, with a light and non-fluffy texture. Coupled with an egg tart or the choice of two soft-boiled eggs along with a cup of kopi, I must say that this is one of my best breakfast fix that energises me with a good morale boost for the day.
Chin Mee Chin Confectionery: 204 East Coast Rd, Singapore 428903 | Tel: +65 6345 0419 | Facebook
3. Dona Manis Cake Shop
Situated within a basement corner of Katong Shopping Centre is this quaint but long-established old school bakery by the name of Dona Manis. It is just a one unit shop where the cakes are both baked and sold in store. The storefront seems a bit outdated, but that’s what most attracted me to assurance of the genuine, traditional and up-to-standard bakes which I was looking out for.
For several decades, the banana pie from this bakery has been touted as the best banana-flavoured bake in Singapore. This piece of baked treat contains fragrant, pre-selected banana slices and coconut shreds held together by a buttery outer crust that is garnished with roast almonds on top.
Biting into it exudes a heavenly blend of texture and taste. The taste of the buttery crust and the fragrant banana pieces was a match made in heaven. Sweet and delectable. At the same time, the coconut shreds offered a balance, neutral flavour which further enhanced the fragrance of the banana content. Definitely a must-try!
Dona Manis Cake Shop: 865 Mountbatten Rd, Katong Shopping Centre, #B1-93, Singapore 437844 | Tel: +65 64407688
4. Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry (Galicier Confectionery)
In my opinion, Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry is the true-blue paradise for nonya kuehs and pastries. Arriving at its storefront literally brings me back to my childhood memories of tip-toeing over the glass panels to view sweet nonya kueh treats and old school bakes. It was like a dream come true on my search for old school bakes and childhood delicacies.
Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry is esteemed for its signature and unique kueh dar dar. What sets this particular delicacy apart from the kueh dar dar’s from other stores is Galicier Confectionery’s use of rock sugar instead of gula melaka in flavouring the coconut filling.
As such, Galicier allows the natural flavour of the coconut to be enhanced while maintaining a pristine white colour without compensating on the sweetness of the kueh dar dar compared to those made with gula melaka.
Another pastry at Tiong Bahru Galicier worthy of mention is the ondeh ondeh. Instead of the commonly used pandan extract, Galicier Pastry makes use of sweet potato for the dough. The result is a lovely hue of golden coated with coconut shreds.
Upon bite, the gula melaka filling oozes out richly. Sweet to the taste buds and luscious to the palate. It was a long-lasting roll of delectable ooze and spongy chew. I can say that this is the best ondeh ondeh I have eaten.
Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry: Blk 55 Tiong Bahru Rd, #01-39, Singapore 160055 | Tel: +65 6324 1686 | Facebook
5. Jie Bakery & Confectionery
I must say that Jie Bakery & Confectionery is indeed an old school bakery gold mine. They still do they traditional baked loaves. I especially love the colourful breads which I usually get from the ice-cream man in this current era.
I especially love these loaves done by Jie Bakery. They have a soft texture which is simply delectable. I like that it is not too spongy, just soft. Indeed, this old school baked loaf available here is like no other, not even those that we eat at ‘kopitiams’ nowadays.
If you’re a fan of the traditional ice-cream bread done by the ice-cream man, it’s then worth a trip down to Jie Bakery to get a loaf of these delightful ‘rainbow swirl’ breads. Pair it with your favourite ice-cream flavours anytime, at your pleasure. Definitely a vivid reminisce of the childhood days.
Jie Bakery & Confectionery: 123 Upper Paya Lebar Rd, Singapore 534837 | Tel: +65 62811377 | Facebook
6. Lek Lim Nonya Cake
Started out as a home kitchen in 1968 and moved into a shop in 1979 where which they have stayed ever since, Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery sure is one of the few nonya kueh shops in Singapore that still handmakes its kuehs. Indeed, Lek Lim is one of the few nonya kueh shops that offers one of the most genuine taste and flavour.
Lek Lim’s ang ku kueh a.k.a. ‘red tortoise cake’ was what made the confectionery famous in its early days. Thereafter, Lek Lim have branched into making other savoury kuehs such as png kueh (Chinese rice cake), soon kueh and the ku chye kueh (chives cake).
Apart from the joys of savouring handmade old-school nonya kueh flavours, customers can have the convenience of ordering nonya kuehs from Lek Lim Nonya Cake’s mobile site. Lek Lim is indeed a treasure site for old school nonya kuehs.
Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery: Blk 84 Bedok North St. 4, #01-21, Singapore 460084 | Tel: +65 64490815 | Website
7. Love Confectionery
Located just beside Alexandra Village Food Centre, at the heart of Bukit Merah and Queensway area, Love Confectionery is an old-school bakery gem. It has a lineup of cakes, pastries and biscuits done and packaged with a ‘traditional feel’.
My favourites from Love Confectionery are their sliced cream cakes with different flavoured toppings to choose from. The best of which is the peanut cake, as the topping is a layer of delectable crunch that makes a good complement of texture with the smooth cream cake.
Other flavours such as the chocolate rice cream cake as well as the one topped with rainbow sprinkles not only look appealing, but are also a good blend of flavour and texture. These cream cakes are really simple, but they are so fluffy and moist that simply fell in love with them. A really rare old school find that is unique to Love Confectionery itself.
Love Confectionery: Blk 122 Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-60, Singapore 150122 | Tel: +65 62782385 | Facebook
8. Ng Kim Lee Confectionery
Situated in the Bukit Timah area, Ng Kim Lee Confectionery is another treasure site for both old-school bakes and confectioneries. Upon arriving at the storefront, I was thrilled to see that they still use the olden-form of sliding metal shutters. Even the metal grills were of an ancient design.
Not a very large bakery confectionery, but Ng Kim Lee has a lineup of different bakes and sweet treats ranging from sliced cakes, their signature mini muffins as well as traditional Chinese biscuits, candies and egg tarts.
An interesting food item at Ng Kim Lee will be their mini muffins. Each piece of this cute treat is served with a mini star-edged aluminium foil, the size of a baby’s palm. I tried the pandan flavoured one and it was fragrant. Other flavours include banana, lemon and chocolate. At just $0.50 per piece, these are indeed old school sweet treats which bring a sense of nostalgia and reminisce.
Ng Kim Lee Confectionery: 4 Chun Tin Rd, Singapore 599591 | Tel: +65 64663515 |
9. Sing Hon Loong
A visit to Sing Hon Loong at Whampoa is indeed a walk down memory lane. With the rise of many bread franchise such as Bread Talk, Toast Box and Ya Kun Kaya Toast, many of us may not have heard of Sing Hon Loong Bakery which still bakes its loaves of plain white bread in the natural and traditional way.
Operating 24 hours, the loaves of bread here are hand-prepared and hand-sliced from scratch till they’re displayed for sale.
These white bread not just soft, but pillowing. Pressing down with your finger immediately ignites a rebound back to its original shape. Definitely not a reachable standard done by methods of mass production. Sing Hon Loong offers kaya as well as butter spread upon purchase of their loaves. Even so, their bread tastes very good even on its own.
Sing Hon Loong: 4 Whampoa Dr, Singapore 327715 | Tel: +65 62560878
10. Sze Thye Cake Shop
Founded in 1950s, the original Sze Thye Cake Shop in Liang Seah street was taken over by Mr Koh Sun Liang’s father in 1960, then subsequently handed down to Mr Koh Sun Liang in 1999 and manned singlehandedly till this day.
Shifting to Beach road in 2003, Sze Thye Cake Shop is a traditional, old-school bakery that has a plethora of Chinese pastries and snacks that are considered ancient yet handmade from scratch. Indeed a rare gem.
Apart from Mr Koh’s signature peanut brittle candy, Sze Thye is also esteemed for its piah a.k.a. Chinese biscuits of different flavours including beh teh sor, tau sar piah and green bean cake. Most of Mr Koh’s handmade confections are popular for use as offerings during festive and religious occasions.
Sze Thye Cake Shop: 2 Beach Rd, Singapore 190002 | Tel: +65 96581286