We all have a soft spot for nostalgic places that remind us of the good times and bring us back to rekindle the fondest memories of the past.
Especially the old-school ones, just family-run traditional eateries in Singapore that serve up hearty and honest food. These are the OG spots where our parents and even grandparents used to eat at years ago.
Here are 10 old-school eateries in Singapore that you should visit before they close down for good.
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
CHIN CHIN EATING HOUSE
Chin Chin Eating House has been around for decades and it is known for their chicken rice and Hainanese dishes. You must order the signature Hainanese pork chops!
19 Purvis Street
Tel: +65 66337 4640
Offering a full-on menu of both Asian and Western fare, Colbar is one of the few gems in Singapore that we can safely say, has truly stood the test of time. Opened in 1953, the establishment formerly served as a canteen for the British army. It, therefore, gave rise to its name, Colbar, otherwise referred to as ‘Colonial Bar’.
Granted, Colbar’s food isn’t exactly cheap. But few places in Singapore can match the dining experience here.
9A Whitchurch Road
Tel: +65 6779 4859
Heap Seng Leong is one of the surviving coffee shops in Singapore that still sells this old-school drink. Entering their humble space is often described as walking into a museum showcase of a 1950s kopitiam.
The old furnishing and dim lighting inside felt like a serene contrast to the modern coffeeshop right beside Heap Seng Leong. Time stood still as we started our day there and nourished ourselves while the uncle who wears the same pajamas each day went about pouring coffee for other customers. Having a slow breakfast there made for a peaceful morning.
10 North Bridge Rd, #01-5109
Tel: +65 6292 2368
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
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
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 most of the great dim sum restaurants in Singapore, in fact, quality has dropped a lot over the years. But it will always hold a special place in our hearts as we have grown up dining here.
54 Chin Swee Road #07-23
Tel: +65 6532 5266
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.
697-699 North Bridge Road
Tel: +65 6298 6320
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 places 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 traditional coffee.
35 Keong Saik Road
Tel: +65 6223 5083
YY KAFEI DIAN
Located in an old shophouse at the junction of Beach Road and Purvis Street, YY Kafei Dian is known for its traditional Hainanese fare and their famous old-school kaya toast, kopi.
On the menu, you can find Hainanese fare including chicken rice, Hainanese-style pork chops, Hainan Braised Pork Belly and a range of zi char dishes.
There is always a long queue during lunch hours, so make sure that you get there early.
37 Beach Rd, #01-01, Singapore 189678
Tel: +65 6336 8813