Category: Katong

Chin Mee Chin – A Walk Down Memory Lane

By , March 12, 2009

240 East Coast Road (closed on Mondays)

When you talk about coffee and toast in Singapore, the names of “Killiney” and “Yakun” has almost become synonymous with the local breakfast culture. Of course after the franchising, they are now considered a lot more contemporary and commercialised. Then you know there is something missing…

For a taste of the old-styled coffee shops where you can step back into the memory lanes, the residents of Katong should be more familiar with Chin Mee Chin Confectionery, otherwise known as CMC.

The Hainanese coffeeshop along East Coast Road, presently owned by Mr. Tang See Fang, was founded by the owner’s father in 1925. There is a certain nostalgic charm in this little shop, with mosaic blue/white tiles, marble top tables, a mixture of wooden chairs and ceiling fans.

The Food
Other than kaya toast, this confectionary offers pastries like custard puffs, curry puffs, swiss rolls and fruit cakes, lined up in aluminum trays within old-looking metal shelves. People go for the hot piping tarts when they come out straight from the kitchen at the back, filling up the signature white boxes with delights for the family.

My favourite is the French Toast with the thick slab of butter and sweet aromatic kaya hand-made in traditional style. The Custard Puffs, served in little plastic dishes, are also a draw with the dark yellow custard, lightly prepared and not too sweet to the tooth.

The Ambience
The smell of kaya, butter and coffee is prominent and in the air, and this isn’t a quiet place. The waitresses may nag at you to stay at a straight queue, and aunties at the back kitchen rattle on as they prepare the daily fix. I can never understand the queue system here (You pay before you get a table), and the shop being very crowded doesn’t really help. But the familiar residents of Katong seem to know how this coffeeshop system of ordering, serving and paying works, and blends in smoothly with the rustle-bustle.

The Verdict
Having a meal here can be a history lesson on its own for the young children, though I highly suspect they will much prefer chilling up at Starbucks and CoffeeBean. When I brought my friends here, they all thought they were tourists in their own country. So how well are you familiar with the rich and fading coffeeshop culture?

Chin Mee Chin – A Walk Down Memory Lane. 3.0*

Old Hong Kong Tea House – Good only when you need a late night supper

By , May 30, 2008

86 East Coast Road #01-09/10 Katong Village S(428788) Tel: 63451932

I first came into contact with this Hong Kong café at Marina Square Food Loft, serving superb Hong Kong milk tea but sad looking trolley noodles. Opened by Victoria Lee, a Honger Konger who moved to Singapore, she brought in a team of Hong Kong chefs to ensure authenticity.

The truth is I did hesitate a little before traveling all the way to Katong, due to the bad experience at Marina. (Though the strange thing is I order the milk tea there regularly without fail.) It’s hard not to miss Old Hong Kong Tea House as it is located within the preserved Katong Village with white walls and striking maroon signboards.

The Ambience
Upon entering the ‘cha chan teng’, you feel like you traveled back in time framed pictures of Hong Kong celebrities from the 70s and 80s, such as Danny Chan, Leslie Cheung and Jacky Cheung. It is interesting yet ‘cheap’ because the décor designs are obviously torn from old magazines and records. This is what I call ‘fei wu li yong’ (recycling).

The Food
Customers patronizing such Hong Kong cafes often get spoilt for choice, as this particular one offers more 500 dishes! Old Hong Kong’s specialties include Trolley Noodle, Bamboo Basket Baked Rice, La Mian (hand-pulled noodles) and their drinks.

Trolley Noodles is one of the more prominent street hawker fare. You can choose a base noodles ($2.20) with additional ingredients costing between $1.00 to $2.00. Unfortunately, it is no where close to the piping slurping noodles you will have in the streets of Kowloon.

This café obviously does not care about the art of food presentation. The Braised Ee-Fu Noodle with Brown Sauce ($8.80) was sickly looking in its flaxen yellow, with curry sauces spilled at the side. The brown sauce was also obviously M.I.A. A through disappointment.

The dim sum was actually quite tasty, but unfortunately losing out in its appearance with undrained oil on the plate.

The signature is the Hong Kong Milk Tea, apparently made from 5 different tea leaves, filtered water and imported evaporated milk. The blend was perfect along with a smooth texture, ending off with a slight bitter tea aftertaste. So good that I ordered another round.

The Good To Know
If you crave for after midnight supper, rest assured this café is open 24/7 for the entire year. With no service charge included, prices are still rather affordable.

The Verdict
Good only when you need a late night supper. 2.5*

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Xin Wang Hong Kong (Marina Square)
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Old Hong Kong Tea House
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