Monday, 15 July 2013

The last final day of Tong Ah Coffeeshop

Remembering the traditional kopitiam that darts away from rows of pre-war houses in early 1939 that when my mum is born a few years earlier during World War One in quarm streets of muddy fields. During the WWI, this building was already built in 1939 with rows of shophouses and there is another building built in 1929 which is 10 year earlier, stands opposite building of an oldest traditional kopitiam building along Keong Saik road in the junction of Teck Lim Road - Tong Ah Coffee shop aka Tong Ah Eating House. 
My mum and her 'big' families as well as my beloved grandma from China (passed on 1999 aged 87 - 5th Generation) love kopi all the time those early kampong days and still does. So do I.. with my family and parents in-laws (passed on between 1993 & 2006 - aged 71 & 89) both of them were from China. Those times, there's hardly to find traditional coffeeshops in Singapore in early times (WWI and WWII). We somehow bought coffee beans to make ourselves a cup of coffee using sock and hot water to fill manually and also bought soya beans to make soya drinks too. Gone were the days when we were kampong kids playing with muddy fields.
Built in 1939 where Tong Ah Eating House located
Not forgetting about those building was once stood still and still preserved after many decades. Many people like us would remember these old buildings to where we can find the traditional coffee shops when we worked or for leisure, came in the morning for breakfasts almost daily. Sometimes, we would go another coffeeshop nearby because it has been increasing more coffeeshops in Singapore after WWII.
Keong Saik road is a popular among the rows of shophouses where there are pubs, eatery shop, interior designs, boutique shops as well as hotels such as Keong Saik hotel and Keong Saik snacks.
Tong Ah Eating House at corner of Restaurant Ember building (1929)
The traditional coffeeshop aka kopitiam sits quietly along Keong Saik road at the 'Y' junction of Teck Lim road at the corner of 'Restaurant Ember' building (1929) just opposite Keong Saik Hotel. The 'Tong Ah' building is already built in 1939 and was started coffeeshop business, owned by Mr Tang Chew Fue's great grandfather, Mr Tan Kar Pin from China. Tong Ah Eating House aka Coffeeshop stands more than 74 years in business after taking over by his great grand son, Mr Tang Chew Fue (4th generation) in 1999 after his great grandfather passed on in 1942.
Triangular-shaped of Tong Ah Eating House
A triangular shaped building sits along Keong Saik road has been preserved since 1939 and at the corner of triangular shaped spread along tables and chairs that close to the kopitiam and Tong Ah seafood store next to it.
Tong Ah Seafood
Many people thronged kopitiam for early breakfast in the morning before they started off work and some come in cars that parked along side of the road that made narrowed road that hardly squeezed side be side.
Last day on 14 July 2013
I has been there for a couple of years ago despite of my busy schedules, I first visited in 1990 and would love their aroma smell of coffee brewing in the morning. So I went on the 4th July 2013 for ordering a cup of coffee just a week ago before I would hear the breaking news of closure of this traditional coffeeshop on the last final day on 14 July 2013. But why? Such a good traditional coffeeshop that comes by all the way since, many old generations like me would love 'kopi' rather than 'teh' since I was a teenager back then.
Keong Saik Snacks towards 7-11 store down the road
It will be relocated at five-foot way along Keong Saik road which I believe it could the spot next to 7-11 stall next to, is the double white shophouses after Keong Saik Snacks to where Tong Ah Coffeeshop stands on the left.
Ironic building of Tong Ah Eating House
So I went again on 14 July 2013 barely a week I was there early on 4th July 2013, to catch a last day of an old coffee shop in the cool slightly dark cloud in the afternoon with my hubby who also loves drinking coffee all the time since when his beloved father (my in-law) made coffee at home many decades and even drinks coffee at home that I make for years. My ex-colleagues used to say that I make best coffee for them at office hours in the morning or tea-breaks.
 Two Kopi (Coffee) on unclean table
A ridiculously good place which does the Kopitiam standards (kaya toast, egg, kopi or teh) very well, but the dinners are crazy good. Not all the place to go for bites if you have weird hangups about tables not being wiped by anti bacterial stuff or crowded narrow spaces...because this place is all of that where the old kampong hut kopitiam used to be. Recalled one of my oldest aunts' kampong hut at the road side at Bukit Timah road beside the thick forests that sold fishball noodles with messy tables and chairs that not fully cleaned in those olden days.
Lady Boss serving ice 'Teh' or 'Milo' at the counter
A truly authentic Singaporean breakfast experience has to comprise of two slices of kaya toast, 2 soft-boiled eggs and local coffee or tea however you like it. Tong Ah does this well with freshly grilled toast and large soft-boiled eggs. 
Mr Tang busyon the kaya toast
The toast at Tong Ah is grilled over an open grill so you don't get the typical compressed toast that you see in modern kaya toast chains around Singapore. A thin block of butter and a swipe of kaya complete the toast making every bite a taste of heaven. So where will you get this cheap breakfast nowadays?
Mr Tang making traditional coffee
Mr Tang throws empty milk can into the bin
Believing what these family go through all these years despite busy handling customers and also operates at night at Tong Ah Seafood (pic shown) that far beyond sitting on the narrow spaces and dig into the Chicken clay pot and what awaits you is a ridiculously tender chicken in a brown ginger garlic sauce with a slight of sweetness. Pork rib tender with sauce is the best that comes with rice. Stacks of bowls, plates and wooden pegs are seen piled up on the tray trolley and are used for nightly dinner next to Tong Ah Seafood stall.
Tian Gong 天宫
Will they remove of the 'Tian Gong - 天宫' that hanged on wall of facade outside Tong Ah Eating house or just move to the new location?
Tong Ah's signage on top of the building
Tong Ah's signage 
I expect the signage will remove from their shop and move to the new location to where they will start on business in beginning of August 2013.
filming crews
film shooting at Tong Ah Eating house
Besides these crowds that jammed at the corners, you could see thronged local photographers and film crews from Primetime Asia gathered around the Tong Ah Coffeeshop on each side of the triangular building on the last final day.
local Photographers on the left
What do you expect for them to come for a shooting outside both side corridors of the heritage of Tong Ah Eating House of 74 years stood? Memories of times..but it will relocate opposite two storey of pre-war shophouses along Keong Saik road. 
A man posed for a shot in front of ironic building
A man is seen posed for a photograph in front of memory of ironic building as if it's like gone for heydays. Many tourists and local residents come for reminiscing of the ironic building and took many shots for the memory that once stood. And it's not closing down of the long standing Tong Ah Eating House and thus it will soon operate in the beginning of August 2013 after renovation on the new premise at 35 Keong Saik road.
Watch the video here.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting tead. I chanced upon this after watching a repeat telecast TV program about this unique shop