Move over mass-produced fast food, it is time to go slow and celebrate hand-crafted heritage treats.
Slow Food (Singapore), the local branch of the Slow Food International Association in Italy, is rolling out its inaugural Heritage Heroes programme to showcase traditional food culture here. This is in line with the global organisation's mission to preserve heritage dishes and promote traditional gastronomic culture and responsible food consumption.
Dona Manis Cake Shop husband-and-wife team Tan Keng Eng and Soh Tho Lang. Image: ST/ Chew Seng Kim
The Heritage Heroes initiative highlights 34 shops in Singapore which are devoted to producing traditional food products.
The Heritage Heroes programme's chairman, food writer Christopher Tan, 41, says: "We decided to focus on bakeries and confectioneries for a few reasons - some of the oldest have been around for generations; some of the baked goods they produce are getting rarer; and some of them are facing challenges finding successors to hand their torches to.
Future editions of the Heritage Heroes programme will include other types of food businesses such as restaurants and food producers.
Check out the eight traditional confectioneries here, for tips on where to get these old-school treats.
1. DONA MANIS CAKE SHOP
What: 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 rum balls, scones, apple pies and buns.
Where: Katong Shopping Centre, 865 Mountbatten Road, B1-93
Info: Call 6440-7688
Owner Koh Sun Liang of Sze Thye Cake Shop. Image: ST
2. SZE THYE CAKE SHOP
What: Founded in 1950, this Teochew bakery owned by Mr Koh Sun Liang still painstakingly handcrafts its traditional pastries, biscuits and peanut candy, and also makes sugar sculptures for festive occasions.
Where: 2 Beach Road, 01-4795
Info: Call 6337-7010
Chin Mee Chin at East Coast Road. Image: ST
3. CHIN MEE CHIN
What: For more than 70 years, Chin Mee Chin has been an institution for the local breakfast trinity of kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs and kopi. Other nostalgic delights include fluffy raisin buns, custard puffs, cream horns, sugar Swiss rolls and sugee cake.
Where: 204E East Coast Road
Info: Call 6345-0419
4. JI XIANG CONFECTIONERY
What: Few make ang ku kueh like those at Ji Xiang, run by Ms Toh Bong Yeo, which have been hand-made since 1988.
Owner Toh Bong Yeo of Ji Xiang Confectionery. Image: ST
The red kueh, which is shaped like a tortoise shell to symbolise longevity, has a thin glutinous rice skin encasing traditional fillings such as peanut, sweet bean paste, and salty bean paste. More modern flavours include durian and yam.
Where: 1 Everton Park, 01-33
Info: Call 6223-1631 or go to www.facebook.com/JiXiangConfectionery.AngKuKueh
5. TRADITIONAL HAIG ROAD PUTU PIRING
What: 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.
Image: Berita Harian
Where: Haig Road Hawker Centre, 14 Haig Road, 01-08; and Tristar Complex, 970 Geylang Road, 01-02
Info: Call 9456-7573
6. SING HON LOONG (GHEE LEONG)
What: 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.
Image: The New Paper
Where: 4 Whampoa Drive
Info: Call 6256-0878
7. JIE BAKERY & CONFECTIONERY
What: 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.
Where: 123 Upper Paya Lebar Road
Info: Call 6281-1377
8. TONG HENG
What: Originally a dim sum shop in the 1930s, Tong Heng is now run by the third generation of the Fong family. 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, biscuits and kaya.
Tong Heng's signature diamond-shaped egg tart, with a thin and flaky crust filled with smooth custard filling, is still made by hand. Images: Chris Tan
Where: 285 South Bridge Road, and 1 Jurong West Central 2, Jurong Point Mall B1-10
Info: Call 6223-3649
9. HarriAnn's Delights
What: 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.
Image: ST File
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."
Info: See the full list of store locations and contact details online at http://www.harrianns.com/.
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on August 31, 2014. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.