Singapore is a nation of foodies; there is nothing we love more than indulging in our favourite meal. I can safely say no one loves eating as much as we do.
Ask anyone where to get the best chicken rice and you might find yourself in a rather heated debate. There is no denying that we are ardent foodies and fiercely protective of our local food.
As National Day approaches, it seems like an opportune moment to reflect on how far we have come.
While I’m proud of the towering skyscrapers and massive indoor waterfalls, nothing makes me beam with pride more or feel more Singaporean than our local food. This is especially true with stalls that have been around since our independence or even longer.
Just think, our grandparents or even our great-grandparents could have been eating those same dishes. In fact, food really does have the ability to bind us all. So, if you are feeling particularly nostalgic here are some suggestions on where you can get dishes and snacks that have been around since the good ole‘ days.
Nothing tastes more heartwarming than a simple plate of rice doused in thick curry and nobody does it better than Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice.
Located in the heart of Tiong Bahru, Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice is located within a quaint-looking coffee shop, with charming old-school decor. They even use the traditional turquoise metal gates! One look at this is sure to evoke a sense of nostalgia for the good ol’ days.
Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice has been in Tiong Bahru since 1946, which is a whopping 73 years. The man currently behind the stall is none other than Mr Loo Kia Chee, an industrious man who has been going at it for the past four decades.
Now, their Hainanese Curry (S$2) might look a little unassuming but boy, this is the bomb!
The strong coconut milk aroma will hit you the moment you dig in. What caught my attention, however, was the unusual spicy flavour. The mild spicy taste came from the heavy dose of ginger, which didn’t sting my tongue.
It’s a simple steaming plate of white rice, bedecked in curry, but it’s all you need.
Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice: 71 Seng Poh Road, #01-49, Singapore 160071 |Tel:+65 6225 3762 | Opening Hours: 8 am – 2.45pm (Daily), Closed on alternate Tues
When it comes to comfort food, nothing soothes the soul like a plate of nasi biryani. Just thinking about the mountain of fragrant rice drenched in a luscious coat of curry is already making my mouth water.
While many places in Geylang Serai serve up a good plate of nasi biryani, none have garnered more positive reviews than Geylang Briyani Stall in Pasar Geylang Serai.
31-year-old Hannan runs the stall in the two-storey wet market and hawker centre. He is the third-generation owner of the stall, which has a long history dating back to 1964.
The basmati rice was warm and fluffy, and the grains didn’t clump together or become mushy.
But what was amazing was how fragrant the rice was. The sweet aroma of cinnamon, as well as the unmistakable astringence of cloves, were the most prominent notes.
The curry was surprisingly rich and wasn’t too spicy at all. Which spells good news for spice novices. While the prices here at Geylang Briyani Stall are a little steep, the hearty portions and homely taste make up for the price point.
Geylang Briyani Stall: 1 Geylang Serai, Geylang Serai Market & Food Centre, #02-146, Singapore 402001 | Tel: +65 9831 0574 /+65 6743 7458 | Opening Hours: 10am – 4pm (Tues to Sun), Closed on Mon unless public holiday | Facebook | Instagram
3. The Last Kachang Puteh Man
If you happen to find yourself along Peace Centre on Selegie Road, you might stumble upon somewhat of a unicorn. Amirthaalangaram Moorthy mans quite possibly the last kachang puteh kiosk in Singapore.
A third-generation hawker, Amirthaalangaram inherited the stall from his father who took it over from his father.
This little cart holds up to 20 types of nuts and legumes. If you need a little nibble to tide you over as you walk over to the bus stop, this kiosk is perfect. You can find favourites such as murukku, sugar-coated peanuts and more.
For those who’d like a hot snack, there are even some lightly-salted chickpeas and boiled peanuts in the corner.
These treats come up to S$1 for two different types of snacks. Not to mention, these snacks still come in the paper cone just like in the past.
My favourite of the lot has to be the steamed chickpeas, plump and lightly-salted. Simple and comforting, I could eat this every day.
Kachang Puteh: 1 Sophia Road, Peace Centre, Singapore 228149 | Opening Hours: 11 am to 8 pm (Mon to Sat), Closed on Sun
Located in Bukit Merah, Poh Cheu Soon Kueh and Ang Ku Kueh (寳洲手工制作筍粿红龟粿) is a three-generational kueh speciality shop. This is where they still make ang ku kueh the old-school, traditional way.
78-year-old Neo Poh Cheu is the man who started it all. He founded his kueh business with his wife more than 30 years ago in 1985. Back then, Mr Neo made all his kuehs at home as he didn’t have a physical stall.
With a degree in accounting, Mr Neo’s grandson, Jerome, could have pursued an office career. However, the 25-year-old decided to fully involve himself in the family business upon graduating.
Just to keep us on our toes, Poh Cheu has an array of exciting and unconventional flavours to entice younger customers to give these colourful pucks a try. Besides the traditional Peanut (S$1.10), there are modern and exciting ang ku kuehs such as Coffee (S$1.10), Mango (S$1.10) and Green Tea (S$1.10).
If you love your traditional cakes with a twist then you have to pop by Poh Cheu Soon Kueh.
Poh Cheu Soon Kueh and Ang Ku Kueh (寳洲手工制作筍粿红龟粿): Block 127, Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-222, Singapore 150127 | Tel: +65 6276 2287 | Opening Hours: 11 am – 4.30pm (Mon to Sat), Closed on Sun| Facebook | Instagram
5. Biscuit King
This is where you can get truly sentimental. Biscuit King is a quaint little store along Upper Thomson Road where you can find traditional biscuits, sweets and snacks and even some old-school games.
The assorted biscuits are still stored in traditional biscuit kongs (containers) that your Ah Ma and Ah Gong used to stash their cash in. Which is delightfully charming and offers us a glimpse into how stores used to operate.
Growing up, Iced Gem Biscuits (S$2.50) was one of my favourite treats. If you are a true connoisseur, then you know the only proper way to eat these goodies is to first polish off the sugary icing.
Not to mention, Biscuit King is where you’ll find other old-school treats that will surely be a lovely blast from the past.
Well, if you’re like me and want to indulge in some nostalgia this National Day but are just a lil’ lazy to travel to these places, never fear, Grab is here to deliver a taste of the past to you.
Grab’s 1965-inspired menu brings you a blast from the past, allowing you to savour a variety of local flavours incorporated into modern-day goodies.
For a go-to breakfast item, there are four special pancakes from Mr Bean to pick from, including a Pandan Cheesecake one that goes perfectly with LiHO’s Avocado Coffee Smoothie. If you need something a little carby, BreadTalk is your answer with their new local flavours – available at a special rate if you pay with your GrabPay balance.
Or take a cue from your parents and snack on some kachang puteh as you watch the latest blockbusters at Cathay Cineplexes.
I don’t need to tell you how ubiquitous Grab is — I’m always reaching for the app to book rides, order food, and even make payments. With the ease and convenience that they bring, along with this special 1965-inspired menu, this year’s National Day will be something special.
*This post was brought to you in collaboration with Grab.