Remember that cosy little mom-n-pop cake shop your parents used to take you for your favourite treats? Here’s where you can still find them, including the legendary Lana Cakes, whose owner will soon be hanging up her apron.
Dona Manis Cake Shop
This 20-year-old confectionery, run by husband-and-wife team Tan Keng Eng and Soh Tho Lang, bakes its own signature banana pie — a perfect combination of crisp, crumbly crust filled with sliced banana and coconut and almond crunch.
Other tasty treats include the rum balls, scones, apple pies and buns.
#B1-93, Katong Shopping Centre, 865 Mountbatten Road
For 50 years, Violet Kwan has been selling her famous fudge cake, which is moist, luscious and blanketed by a velvety layer of fudge.
You may remember her cakes for its piping of delicious, slightly salty buttercream. The 88-year old baker will soon be selling her business so, now is a good time to order one of her famous creations.
Other favourites include the soft, fluffy orange chiffon.
36 Greenwood Avenue
Chin Mee Chin Confectionery
For more than 70 years, the shop has been a local institution serving the breakfast trinity of kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs and kopi (local version of coffee).
Other nostalgic delights include fluffy raisin buns, custard puffs, cream horns, sugar Swiss rolls and sugee cake.
204 East Coast Road
Those who live around the Katong area may have fond memories of choosing a chocolate Etoile cake from the little shop — with or without icing — for a birthday celebration.
Surely, that was a sign of one class shindig. Today, the 30-plus year-old shop still produces its rich Etoile cake, with delicate layers of chocolate mousse and sponge cake, along with other items such as sugee cake, cheesecakes and croissants, which are served at its sit-down cafe.
42 Joo Chiat Place
Originally a dim sum shop in the ’30s, Tong Heng is now run by the third generation of the Fong gamily.
Its signature diamond-shaped egg tart, with a thin and flaky crust filled with smooth custard filling, is still made by hand.
The shop also sells mooncakes, Chinese pastries, buns and kaya.
285 South Bridge Road
Founded by Hainanese brothers in 1965, this British-inspired cafe serves a delightful mix of sweet and savoury pastries.
It is famous for its flaky curry puffs, cream horns, custard puffs and chocolate eclairs.
If there’s a special occasion, order its light buttercream cakes, complete with nostalgic decorations.
Not many places in in Singapore do them this way anymore.
105 Clementi Street 12
The Pine Garden
This unpretentious bakery, which was popular in the 80’s, may also offer old-school buttercream cakes (the ones that resemble traffic lights), but people have been coming here for years for its melt in the mouth blackforest gateau.
With its light layers of chocolate sponge cake and buttercream, it’s delicious. It has become more creative with time, with other flavours such as lychee martini and pulut hitam (black rice pudding), but still sticks to its DNA of light, non-cloying tea cakes.
Various outlets, check website for details.
Lam Yeo Coffee Powder
A sepia-ton vision of coffee culture, this stalwart has been purveying its kopi blends — the uniquely Singaporean concoction of beans roasted with margarine and sugar — since 1959.
Vintage coffee grinders still sit on the shelves. Giant sacks of beans are stacked, two-men high, at the back of the store. On a recent afternoon, Tan Bong Heong, the son of Lam Yeo’s founder Tan Thian Kang, sat in the store. “We get over 2,000 orders every day,” he said.
Not to be left behind by the times, the family-run shop has also stocked up on modern gourmet coffee.
Tan has passed the baton to Benny Tan, his son. With a third-generation’s keen eye for trends, Benny has broadened Lam Yeo’s offerings. Among the store’s legacy blends, you can now find newer ones from Brazil, Ethiopia, Colombia and even South Africa — enough to rival the latest third-wave joint.
328 Balestier Road
Haig Road Putu Piring
Madam Noor Zela Zain and her husband Mohamad Hashim Jumaat make their putu piring using a family recipe that has stood the test of time since the 1950s. Double-steamed rice flour encases a molten centre of gula melaka and is served with salted grated coconut.
#01-08, Haig Road Hawker Centre, 14 Haig Road
Sing Hon Loong (Ghee Leong)
With more than 50 years of history, Sing Hon Loong, run by Mr Lai Chee Peng, is one of the oldest bread-makers in Singapore. More than 1,000 loaves of traditional white and brown loaves are produced daily and distributed to local coffee shops.
4 Whampoa Drive
Jie Bakery And Confectionery
One of the few remaining traditional bakeries that turn out freshly baked loaves with charred crusts. They are nothing fancy, just plain good bread, with creamy kaya and butter. Run by Mr Mah Hock Hiong.
123 Upper Paya Lebar Road
The brand – which specialises in Nonya kueh – has outlets in Tiong Bahru Market and Jalan Bukit Merah, as well as a five- week-old cafe, HarriAnn’s Nonya Table, at Bugis Junction.
Says Mr Alan Tan, the third-generation owner of HarriAnn’s Delights: “I like the idea of working with schools and the public to preserve our food culture. I would love to organise a Kueh Appreciation Day where we can teach people how to make kueh. Kueh can be glamorous too, it doesn’t have to hide behind cupcakes.”
Various locations, check website for details.
Text: Eunice Quek, Samantha Lee and Cara Yap/Straits Times
Photos: Straits Times and The New Paper