7 retro cafes & restaurants that will take you back in time
Chin Mee Chin Confectionery
After shuttering its doors in 2018, the iconic Chin Mee Chin Confectionery will reopen on its original premise at 204 East Coast Road sometime next month (Mar 2021).
Brought back by the Ebb & Flow Group, you’ll get to savour the popular charcoal toasted kaya buns, kopi, and baked goods such as Swiss rolls, sugee cakes, cream horns and luncheon meat buns at the old school coffee shop, which had previously stayed open for business for over 80 years.
You can also expect its original decor to remain, with patterned tiles, marble tabletops, and ceiling fans.
Chin Mee Chin Confectionery is at 204 East Coast Rd, Singapore 428903.
Just a few minutes walk away from Chin Mee Chin is Sinpopo, nestled in a conserved shophouse in Katong. All retro floor tiles and rattan furnishings, the restaurant evokes a nostalgic charm inspired by the sixties. At the shopfront, you’ll be greeted by metal grilles and a signboard in retro fonts.
Here, you can tuck into local and Peranakan dishes, some with a modern twist – think nasi lemak, Har Jeong Kai burger, crab wontons and crab beehoon.
To finish your meal, get its locally-inspired handmade sliced cakes boasting flavours like gula melaka and pulut hitam. There are also plated desserts like durian pengat and chendol parfait.
This experiential dining and entertainment concept nods to the vibrant 1960s with both its food and decor. From its rattan chairs and timber panels to bright neon lights, a pair of lion dance costumes and advertisement boards, the furnishings harken back to a bygone era.
On the menu, you’ll find local fare like Hokkien mee, prawn paste chicken wings, Hainanese chicken rice, bak kut teh and chilli crab. And if you’re in the mood for a tipple, give its signatures a whirl; there are the Kopi-O Gao, Yum Sling and Kaya Toast Set cocktails.
Yum Sing is at 3B River Valley Road, #01-06/07, Clarke Quay, Singapore 179021.
Opened in 1953 and formerly a canteen for the British army (its name is short for ‘Colonial Bar’), the family diner looks like it’s barely changed since then, with its iconic blue facade and old school interiors amidst lush surroundings. Its menu is equally unpretentious, with both local and Hainanese-style Western food such as chicken nuggets with chips, sirloin steak, fried beehoon and curry.
We suggest you crack one open to go with your food, too. The eatery has a range of imported beers and ciders. All the better to cool you down since there’s no air-conditioning here.
Colbar is at Wessex Estate, 9A Whitchurch Road, Singapore 138839.
It may not be the most convenient to get to unless you drive, but this far-flung located tucked away in the Changi Village area is a hidden gem that is perfect for unwinding with family and friends. There’s also a garden of sorts with swings the kids will love.
An eclectic mix of retro memorabilia, paintings, Oriental screens, vintage vehicles, nostalgic gadgets, and antique furniture dot the place, and has an equally interesting history to boot; it was used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a fault control and telephone exchange, operated by the 19 Signal Regimen while under the British rule.
On top of brunch fare and classics like pasta, pizzas and burgers, the menu also offers mains like ribeye mac and cheese, baby back ribs, and grilled snapper as well as local favourites. Its truffle and spam fries are winners, too.
The Coastal Settlement is at 200 Netheravon Rd. Singapore 508529.
Apart from serving up great food, the owners of Carpenter and Cook, Phoebe and Shenn, have a penchant for collecting vintage furniture, too, which you’ll spot decorating the place. Spot old-fashioned teapots and serveware, retro patterned tiles, and other European vintage furniture.
Shenn is a graduate of the prestigious Cordon Bleu in London and honed her skills at artisan bakery and chocolate shop Cocomaya, so you can expect no less than great food with excellent pastries.
Carpenter and Cook is at 19 Lorong Kilat, #01-06, Singapore 598120.
This quaint store doubles as a retail shop too, so the vintage wares and knick-knacks that add to its charm are also for sale.
It doles out mostly cafe grub with an array of pasta, sandwiches, and rice bowls, but you can also dine on fusion-style dishes like smoked duck Hakka abacus seeds, grilled prawns and mushroom sambal aglio olio, and tom yum seafood spaghetti.
Old Habits is at #01-04 Safra Mount Faber, 2 Telok Blangah Way, Singapore, Singapore 098803.