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.
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 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.
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*