Thursday, July 3, 2014

Converted Sin Lee Coffee Shop

The lions love reading blogs by baby boomers in the Lion City. There is something very heartfelt and earnest about their stories of how the city has evolved. It sometimes make for a comforting bedtime read, with milk in one hand and heong peah in the other. They had been munching on and devouring juicy tales of Bukit Ho Swee's past online recently, sparked by lurid stories of triad shenanigans, curfews and blood-brother gangster pacts from the mouth of a former naughty Bukit Ho Swee boy turned respectable silver-haired entrepreneur. He had regaled them with choice bits during the last leg of their Malaysian road trip.

And when they heard that an iconic Bukit Ho Swee coffee shop has bitten the dust, transforming recently into another mod coffee joint, the feeling was a little bittersweet. They had the privileging of slurping through bowls of aromatic prawn and lor mee at block four previously with a young relative of the coffee shop's owner. And who can forget the shrill and deafening shout of "kopeeeeeee jik puay" from the formidable mouth of the pint-sized uncle?
Blk 4 under construction in the past... ...
Third Place, Singapore, National Awards, Jalan Bukit Ho Swee.
Image © , 2014 Sony World Photography Awards This image,
by photographer
Daniel Chia, of the 1960s Jalan Bukit Ho Swee public housing
block h
as placed third in Singapore for the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards.
It was one of 24 images awarded from a selection of 70,000 entries.

Surprisingly, very little information (even pictures!) about this humble coffee shop exists online. (P.S. Do let us know if you stumble upon reviews, stories or pictures). The lions could only find these few prettier than average ones:

Sin Lee Coffeeshop: Mrs Wee has been making her fabulous lor mee since 1963.
Half a century later, she still draws a devoted following for her rich, not too starchy
gravy that’s ladled over sliced stewed pork, morsels of fried fritters, bean sprouts
and flaked fish. Her prawn noodles are good, but the lor mee is the undisputed star here.
Source: unknown/online
If you compare the picture above with this one, it seems that the signboard
was retained courtesy of the previous coffee shop owner.

Maybe instead of serving the current run-of-the-mill Western brunch items, the cafe could perhaps incorporate a little of the place's history into the menu. How about a modern take on lor mee or prawn mee done with a touch of luxe panache? That would make things a little more interesting, retaining a certain respect for the space's gourmet heritage.

The lions leave you with a morsel of food-for-thought in a song by Ukelele Uncle Dick:

Sin Lee Foods
Blk 4 Jalan Bukit Ho Swee
Singapore 162004

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