As we progress further into the future, Singapore’s society as a whole moves on together and we often leave behind certain sorts of heritage, like the disappearance of certain old school foods that was wildly popular back in the days of massive immigration.
While I can’t singlehandedly bring all these blasts from the past back in action, I can help in reminding us of all the good old memories attached to every little snack or foods that outgrew us and got left behind.
Here’s some local foods you probably have seen before if you were born before the 90s, and a hint on where to find the last remaining remnants of the past.
1. Appom / Putu Mayam
I remember having Putu Mayam a lot as a child, I loved pulling apart a large chunk of what I thought was beehoon, and dunk it lavishly in the sugar. I could get it anytime I wanted it, since it was right beneath my house. It’s getting harder for me to find back this taste, and with it, my childhood.
Luckily for Heavens, because they’re still serving this Tamil delight.
Heavens: Jurong Point Mall Bagus Foodcourt Basement 1, Singapore 648886 | Website
2. Kuih Bong Kong 马来娘惹元宝
A fast disappearing Peranakan kueh, the Kuih Bong Kong is something I’ve never even tasted and wished I did. I’m gonna make my way to Glory Catering on East Coast Road, for they have it there.
Glory Catering Ptd Lte: 139 East Coast Road, Singapore 428829 | Tel: +65 6344 1749 | Website
3. Satay Beehoon
Satay Bee Hoon is slowly phasing out, with only a few hawker joints left. Maybe because its too tedious to make, I don’t know, but why wouldn’t anybody want to preserve this delicious plate of sin. There’s a stall in the East that sells it. Read our extensive guide on Good Eats in Bedok and Simei for more information.
Get your fix at Fengshan Market & Food Centre before its too late.
Fengshan Satay Bee Hoon: Blk 85 Bedok North St. 4, Fengshan Market & Food Centre, Singapore 460085 | opening hours: mon-sun: 5pm-12am
4. Tutu Kueh 嘟嘟糕
Here’s where I insert my sad loss of childhood memories associated with the amazing tutu kuehs, but I’ll stop before this post gets too melancholic. But I really adore these beautiful white little pockets of happiness packed with joy. Subtly sweet and often sold in a push cart, you no longer see any pushcarts, sadly.
But you can still satisfy your tutu kueh craving’s at Tan’s Tu Tu Coconut Cake stall.
Tan’s Tu Tu Coconut Cake: 22B Havelock Road, Singapore 162022 | Tel: +65 9737 2469
5. Muah Chee 麻糍粑
When I was much younger, I thought this was some form of edible chewing gum, hah. Lovingly handmade and tossed in fragrant bits of peanuts, my grandfather would buy them from our regular muah chee man for me. For now, this tradition is slowly dying and other than pasar malams, the last muah chee man can be found at Toa Payoh, go forth and get yourself some.
6. Cake Wrapped in Paper 紙包蛋糕
Yummy little spongecake that is extra light, the ‘cakes wrapped in paper’ are often sold in old school bakeries that are now slowly disappearing. I can no longer reconcile with my childhood memories at this point of time.
These little babies can be spotted at Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry shop, which I bagged a few home.
Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry: Block 55 Tiong Bahru Road, #01-39, Singapore 160055 | Tel: +65 6324 1686
7. Herbal Tea Egg 茶叶蛋
Often another snack found in pasar malam, the herbal tea egg, with all the other yummy snacks like braised peanuts and cup corn, was all that I craved while clumsily attempting at a game of fishing. Pasar malams are going fast and with that, the old time favourite herbal tea egg as well.
Along Neil Road is a place called Tea Chapter and in there, you can appreciate tea in a fine environment that promises serenity. Also, have a go at their herbal tea egg.
Tea Chapter: 9 Neil Road, Singapore 088808 | Tel: +65 6226 1175 | Website
8. Ham Jim Peng 咸煎饼
Often sold with soy bean curd as accompaniment to the rather healthy snack, all these butterfly and fried sesame balls and chinese fried bread are now tediously hard to uncover. Quite possibly only in wet markets and irregular hawker stalls, sigh.
You can still find them at Rochor Beancurd House.
Rochor Beancurd House: 232 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574363 | Tel:+65 8228 7020
I cross my heart and hope this never dies because I love every form of rojak; Indian, Malay or Chinese. Each of them have their own character and of course flavour, all served by rojak peddlers, which have now morphed into hawker stalls because the last I heard, peddlers were illegal.
All you last remaining stalls, keep holding on and please pass down the tradition. Holla at me, I’ll be your apprentice. Also, get your quick fix at Balestier Road’s Hoover Rojak, said to be one of the best rojaks you can get in Singapore.
Balestier Road Hoover Rojak: Blk 90 Whampoa Drive #01-06 Whampoa Drive Food Centre, Singapore 320090
10. Kachang Puteh
We are all familiar with the kachang puteh man along Peace Centre and I’m sure all the LAN goers and students printing out their FYP and PW information will agree with me.
He is also seemingly the last kachang puteh man around, which is just pure tragic because I always prefer an assortment of nuts to a boring pack of sweet and salted popcorn as movie snack.
Kachang Puteh man: Outside Peace Centre, 1 Sophia Road, Singapore 228149
11. Malt Candy 麦芽糖
Back when I was still in Secondary School, my after school hours were spent in Holland Village, be it for Provence, Swensens or this, the malt candy. An elderly lady, arching her back, will sit quietly by the corner, with vats of maltose candy in front of her as she awaits cheeky little students like me to buy them from her.
Returning there much older, I don’t see her anymore and I hope the best for her. And with that, the tradition of malt candy seller is gone. I’m still searching for this one, please holla!
12. Dragon Beard Candy 龙须糖
I can’t even begin to tell you how much joy there was in pulling apart these soft and flimsy little nuggets that are exceedingly indulgent with the abundance of peanuts filling. And I also can’t begin to tell you how much sadness to now know these pushcarts aren’t around anymore as well.
Auntie Lilli has been making these for over 30 years, and if you’re craving some, contact her and she’s your lady to go to for them. There’s also a stall in Kovan Heartland mall’s atrium selling dragonbeard candy, called Old 60’s.
Find out more at Auntie lilli’s facebook page.
13. Biscuits from mama shops
Man, I used to get really excited when my grandfather brought me downstairs to buy biscuits from this metal tins, mostly seen in mama shops. I’d be so stumped for choice because of the incessant rows of biscuits, making it hard to choose between the sugar coated wheat biscuits or the pineapple jam ones.
Kids these days don’t get this dilemma anymore, neither do they have their favourite biscuit seller uncle or auntie. It’s all been commercialized and nicely packed in supermarkets.
14. Soon Kueh 笋糕
Look at these glistening beauties, beckoning you to love them. I don’t know about you but, I absolutely adore them. I used to have them as mid-day snack and you could find them at almost every other market. These days, you’ll have to specially make a trip down to a bigger market just to get some.
You can get some at Yong’s Teochew Kueh stall at Upper Serangoon Road.
Yong’s Teochew Kueh: 1022 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534760 | Tel:+65 6287 4328
15. Ang Ku Kueh 紅龟粿
I’ve always loved these colourful kuehs, especially the red ones that are filled with peanuts, yum. With the ‘shou’ word imprinted, which stands for longevity, these kuehs are brushed with a layer of oil for that outer sheen. You can still get some Ang Ku Kueh at Ji Xiang Ang Ku Kueh.
Ji Xiang Ang Ku Kueh: Block 1 Everton Park #01-33, Singapore 081001 | Tel: +65 6223 1631 | Website
16. Gao Lak 栗子
Date back a few years, maybe five, I still see an uncle roasting chestnuts in a big wok by the bus stop, selling packets of freshly roasted chestnuts- I was never really able to resist the aroma of it, bringing home a large packet to snack on. Now, at the same bus stop, everything remains save for the chestnut stand.
There’s a few mobile push carts around, so keep a lookout for them. Notable places are Pasar Malams, Westmall’s Bus Interchange and Chinatown.
17. Yam Abacus Seeds 算盘子
A Hakka delicacy, Suan Pan Zi or Hakka Abacus Seeds are made up of yam paste and is a savoury dish. It’s named as such due to its resemblance to abacus beads. This is an auspicious dish served during special occasions such as weddings or Chinese New Year. You can still find this rare dish in some old school Hakka restaurants, but it’s starting to get harder and harder to find!
Plum Village Restaurant: 16 Jalan Leban, Singapore 577554
Here’s my list of disappearing foods that defined my growing up years. While I understand that with the passing of years, people progress and tastebuds change, roadside stalls and certain traditions are ousted but it’s still a pity really.
If there are other foods that I’ve missed out, leave a comment and let me know, for I’m on a mission to document down before all memories of it are wiped away.
Related: 10 Old-School Confectioneries & Bakeries in Singapore To Visit Before They Close Forever