Spring Court began life as makeshift stall in 1929

Spring Court founder Ho Loke Yee at his stall at Great World Amusement Park, where he started the business in 1929.
Spring Court founder Ho Loke Yee at his stall at Great World Amusement Park, where he started the business in 1929.PHOTO: SPRING COURT RESTAURANT

One of Singapore's oldest family-run Chinese restaurants - Spring Court - can be found nestled along a row of shophouses in Upper Cross Street, Chinatown.

It began life in 1929 as a makeshift stall started by the late Ho Loke Yee at Great World Amusement Park, according to the upcoming book, Delicious Heirlooms.

With a seating capacity of 100 tables at one stage, the restaurant could accommodate three wedding dinners at the same time.

He is credited with fusing traditional Cantonese cuisine with local ingredients. The book's writer Ow Kim Kit noted that Spring Court was instrumental to the development of Singaporean Chinese cuisine.

Its dishes include claypot chilli crab, roasted chicken with minced prawn, crab meat roll with chicken liver and salted egg, and double-boiled chicken stuffed with bird's nest in superior soup.

Mr Ho's daughter-in-law, Madam Soon Puay Keow, took over the business in the late 1970s.

Madam Soon, 76, the managing director of Spring Court, has overcome many business challenges, including the Asian financial crisis.

 
 

Today, the restaurant is popular with many Singaporeans.

They go there for old favourites and also Madam Soon's unique take on popiah. She told The Straits Times that it features almost 20 ingredients, including turnip, carrots and crab meat.

Smiling with pride, she said that almost every table in the restaurant orders the dish.

"It is very hard to prepare. Everything has to be prepared individually and chopped finely. A lot of care and love goes into it. We are often praised for this dish, which costs just $7.80. It is very worth it," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2018, with the headline 'Spring Court began life as makeshift stall in 1929'. Print Edition | Subscribe