10 old-school restaurants in Singapore with more than 30 years of history

Shashlik waiter Foo Sek Chuan, 75, in the Russian restaurant, which will close come the end of the year.
Shashlik waiter Foo Sek Chuan, 75, in the Russian restaurant, which will close come the end of the year. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

SINGAPORE - Thirty-year-old Shashlik announced earlier this week that it will be closing its doors for the final time at the end of 2015. Slow business, aging staff and difficulties in hiring new staff were the reasons given for the planned closure.

One of the partners of the Russian restaurant, Ms Jenny Lee, 57, told The Straits Times, "It's very sad but we have no choice. We are getting old and are very tired."

The Far East Shopping Centre restaurant, famous for its borsch soup, steaks and meat on skewers, was popular in the 1980s and 1990s.

Here are 10 other restaurants in Singapore with more than 30 years in history.

1. Singapore Zam Zam Restaurant


The exterior of Zam Zam. PHOTO: ST FILE 

Renowned for its chicken, mutton and sardine murtabaks, Zam Zam first started selling its famed Indian-Muslim cuisine in 1908.

The landmark restaurant opposite Sultan Mosque also serves roti prata plain, egg or onion, and nasi briyani.

The family restaurant's name was inspired by Zamzam, a well at the heart of Mecca believed to contain water that quenches the worst thirst.

Where: 697 North Bridge Road

Open: 7am to 11pm daily

Tel: 6298 6320

2. Prima Tower Revolving Restaurant


Prima Tower waitress Ong Ai Guek preparing a dish for diners. PHOTO: ST FILE

Established in 1977, the revolving restaurant is well-known for its Shredded Scallops with Fish & Egg White and its Emperor's Chicken. Led by executive chef Chan Sung Og, 60, the menu also includes new dim sum items such as Shredded Yam Cake with Sakura Prawn, with the cake made completely from yam.

It is also the only restaurant that serves the traditional northern Chinese dessert called Three Non Stick. The dessert, which is made from egg yolks, sugar and flour, costs $60, and needs to be ordered a day in advance.

Where: 201 Keppel Rd

Open: 11am to 2.30pm (Monday to Saturday), 10.30am to 2.30pm (Sunday and public holiday),  6.30pm - 10.30pm daily

Tel: 6272-8822

3. Red Star Restaurant


Waitresses at Red Star Restaurant. PHOTO: TNP FILE

The famous dim sum restaurant was opened in 1974 by masterchefs Sin Leong, 88; Hooi Kok Wai, 76; the late Tham Yui Kai and the late Lau Yoke Pui. Trained by Shanghainese masterchef Luo Chen, the four men were known as Singapore's culinary Heavenly Kings of the 1960s and the 1970s.

With its affordable menu, authentic Cantonese fare and nostalgic atmosphere, Red Star is a must-try stop for dim sum lovers.

Where: 54 Chin Swee Rd #07-23

Open: 7am to 3pm and 6 to 10pm daily

Tel: 6532-5266

4. Islamic Restaurant


The interior of Islamaic Restaurant. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

The 94-year-old Indian Muslim establishment's iconic briyani has been enjoyed and praised by many, from locals to Brunei royalty to Malaysian politicians.

The restaurant, headed by third-generation owner Mr Kalil A. Wahab, dishes out up to 200 servings of nasi briyani a day. Its Beryani Set, which costs $11, comes with a choice of chicken, mutton or fish briyani, served with dalcha, achar, vegetables and pappadam.

Where: 735 North Bridge Road

Open: 11am to 10pm daily

Tel: 6297-1921

5. Mooi Chin


Mooi Chin's signature Hainanese pork chop. PHOTO: MOOI CHIN

 

Famed for its authentic chicken rice and herbal mutton soup, the oldest Hainanese restaurant in Singapore has kept its old-school atmosphere and nostalgic ambience although it is now located in the Landmark Village Hotel.

The restaurant, which opened in 1935, also serves up homely signature dishes including Hainanese pork chop, deep-fried sambal pomfret coated with sambal and fried fish maw with cabbage.

Where: 390 Victoria Street, #03-12A Landmark Village Hotel

Open: 6.30 to 10.30am, 11.30am to 3pm and 5.30 to 9.30pm daily

Tel: 6392-1600

6. Ananda Bhavan Restaurant


Customers placing their orders at Ananda Bhavan's Selegie branch. PHOTO: ST FILE

Established in 1924, the Anandha Bhavan Restaurant - started by a Brahmin family - is the oldest Indian vegetarian restaurant in Singapore. The business has six locations - including the original Selegie Road shop - but the flagship 24-hour restaurant is located nearby in Little India, across from Mustafa department store.

From chaat to thosai, diners have a wide array of selections of North and South Indian as well as Indian-Chinese cuisines. Favourites include appam, mysoor masala thosai and briyani set meal.

Where: 221 Selegie Road, 188340

Open: 5.30am to 10pm daily

Tel: 6339-3643

7. The Ship


Chicken Maryland from The Ship. PHOTO: SHIP RESTAURANT 

Sailing since 1977, The Ship started life in Robinson Road. Decked out like the interior of a ship, the restaurant endeared itself to generations of Singaporean diners for its Western menu offering such old-school treats as fried Chicken Maryland, Ship Steak and Hainanese Pork Chop.

Its flagship outlet has been located at Shaw Centre for about 30 years, playing host to movie moguls and singing stars as well as more ordinary folk. It also has a branch located at nex shopping mall.

Where: 1 Scotts Road, Shaw Centre #03-16/18

Open: 11am to 3pm and 5.30pm to 10pm daily

Tel: 6235-2235

8. Guan Hoe Soon restaurant


The famous babi panggang from Joo Chiat Place's Guan Hoe Soon. PHOTO: GUAN HOE SOON RESTAURANT

 

This restaurant in Joo Chiat has been in business since 1953. The restaurant prides itself on making everything from scratch in-house and its recipes have remained unchanged.

The menu includes standard Peranakan dishes such as ayam buah keluak and babi pong tay. It is famous for its weekends-only special babi panggang (roast pork), which is cooked with shrimp-based rempah spices and served with preserved mustard leaves and also sweet and chilli sauces.

Where: 38/40 Joo Chiat Place

Open: 11am to 3pm and 6pm to 9.30pm daily

Tel: 6344-2761

9. Spring Court


Spring Court's owners Mike Ho and his mother Soon Puay Keow (seated). PHOTO: ST FILE

Formerly known as Wing Choon Yuen, this iconic restaurant was opened at Great World in 1929 by Ho Loke Yee. Now run by Ho's grandson Mike Ho, it is located in a four-storey heritage shophouse in Upper Cross Street.

One of the must-eats at the 650-seat restaurant is their signature Fried Chicken With Prawn Paste, where deboned chicken is spread with a layer of fresh, chopped prawns and then deep fried. Other signature dishes include Buddha Jumps Over The Wall and popiah.

Where: 52-56 Upper Cross St, 058348

Open: 11am to 2.30pm and 6pm to 10.30pm daily

Tel: 6449-5030

10. Gim Tim


The exterior of a Gim Tim outlet. PHOTO: WWW.GIMTIM.COM.SG

This 40-year-old restaurant, serving cuisines with Hokkien, Szechuan and Cantonese influences, has expanded from a modest outlet in Ang Mo Kio to include Imperial Court at The Grassroots' Club and Tim Palace at Safra Toa Payoh.

Renowned for its old school dialect dishes, Gim Tim serves an iconic Hokkien dish called chin beh kueh, in which leftover porridge is mixed with tapioca flour to form a cake which is then chopped up and stir-fried with dried shrimp and minced pork.

Gim Tim is one of the 50 restaurants that have each come up with a special dish for Singapore Restaurant Month, which starts on July 17. Its chef Foong Kok Thin, 48, has whipped up stir-fried mushrooms and kailan in a sauce made with chicken broth, oyster sauce and soya sauce, using locally grown greens and the dish which will remain on the restaurant's menu after the event.

Where: 157 Ang Mo Kio Ave 4 #01-546

Open: 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6pm to 10.30pm on Monday to Friday; 11am to 2.30pm and 6pm to 10.30pm on weekend and public holiday

Tel: 6459-7766

SOURCE: The Straits Times archives

Additional reporting by Chitra Kumar