Eating Out In The Past

My late Godfather loved to eat out at the various restaurants in the past, so I was fortunate to be able to tag along with his family. Some of his favourite outlets include;

1. Lai Wah Restaurant (麗華酒家)

I’m talking about the first outlet located at Jalan Besar – the one that Chun See generation will know haha. Not many can recognise the back lane of the building where the old Lai Wah was situated. Now let me show you the side and front view of this building too.

[rockyou id=61683347&w=485&h=375]

Can you make up the missing Chinese characters at the top of this building (Yellow Arrow);

What so unforgettable about this Lai Wah was the olden slide gate type of lift. I’ve only come across such lift twice in Singapore so far and the other one was at one of those old building around Shenton Way.

If it has not been covered up, I would like to take a look to see if that old lift is still there. Seems like the whole building is vacant.

I’m also not aware that Lai Wah was first opened in 1964 and neither am I aware that Lai Wah was the first restaurant to invent the Chinese New Year Yu-Sheng (raw fish). I only got to know about it when I read through it in the internet.

The Four Heavenly Culinary Kings of Singapore were very popular then in the past. Mr. Tham Yew Kai, Lau Yoke Pui, Hooi Kok Wai and Sin Leong were well known for their Cantonese culinary skill. The leader of the Kings,Mr. Tham Yew Kai co-owned this Lai Wah Restaurant in the 60s.

I’ve yet to try out their current outlet at Bedemeer Road and I wonder if the taste is as good as in the past.

2. Hotel New Hong Kong (新香港大酒店)

This one was located along Victoria Street in the 70s. Guess it is now known as Allson Hotel and not too sure if that Victoria Hotel is still besides it.

Credit : Singapore Guide and Street Directory 1976 Chinese Edition, Chief Surveyor.

This restaurant was located on the ground floor while there was another one also known as something like Hong Kong Restaurant (don’t quite remember the actual name) but on high floor and not on the same road. So one must tell the taxi driver correctly else he will bring you to the wrong one.

3. Singapore Conference Hall (新加坡大會堂)

The above shows an old photo of the Singapore Conference Hall. I remembered my Godfather used to bring me here for the Sunday morning Dim Sum. The dim sum were put on a push cart and the waitress will pushed them out and shouted out the types of dim sum name loudly. In the past, one plate of dim sum usually had 5 pieces, then reduced to 4 pieces. Now it’s only 3 pieces per plate!

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8 Responses to “Eating Out In The Past”


  1. 1 Lam Chun See Friday, March 30, 2007 at 8:43 am

    Do you remember one restaurant in New World. I think it was called Tai Tong ( 大东 )。 They had his huge white color bowl which cooks liked to use as containers for their oils and sauces.

  2. 2 peter Friday, March 30, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    I am still trying to get my answer right. There was a fmaous Cantonese restaurant inside the Great World in the 1960s. Used to find favour among Cantonese folks for wedding dinners. The restaurnat had 2 sections – indoor sitting and pavilion sitting. The floor of the pavilion sitting was wooden and creaked each time someone walked over it. There was a wooden fence to demarcate the pavilion area and the amusement zone inside Great World.

    I think it was nearest to the Flamingo Carbaret or the Sky Cinema. I didnt like long dinners and so my mother had a hard time disicplining me to sit still on the chair. I would run away into the amusement center to watch the “Ghost Train”.

    Could the name of the restaurant be “Diamod” or Chuen Zac” in Cantonese? Do help please!!

  3. 3 peter Saturday, March 31, 2007 at 4:30 am

    OPEN SLIDING DOOR LIFTS

    I think you refer to the type where you can see every floor as you go up and down. Each lft had 2 collapsible gates – one for the lift cubicle and the other for each floor. each time the lift stops at a certain floor, the lift attendant who sat on a stool nearest to the “controls”, would open both gates.

    One thing that caught my attention was the large turning knob that was for stopping or moving the lift. It was usually gold plated, wooden at the end and the duty of the attendant was to wipe and polish the handle. Today of course we have all those push-button or sensor-touch type of lift controls. Popular brand of lifts then was OTIS which if I am correct was distributed by United Engineers Ltd.

    Buildings where I saw them in the early 1960s

    1. Singapore Rubber House (fore-runner of Hitachi Tower) which housed the first Singapore Stock Exchange

    2. Empress Hotel (now NLB) in Middle Road

    3. The Moorish styled “Arcade” (still called the Arcade today)

    2.

  4. 4 laokokok Monday, April 2, 2007 at 2:24 am

    Hi Chun See,
    Not too sure about their bowl but I do find the other restaurant name 大同 at Gay World along Geylang Road confusing with this one though.

  5. 5 laokokok Monday, April 2, 2007 at 2:27 am

    Hi Peter,
    I’m not too familiar with Great World as it’s not too near to my home.

    Yes, you are right about the sliding gate lift. Wonder any of such lifts still working now?

  6. 6 Lam Chun See Monday, April 2, 2007 at 3:15 am

    I have seen this type of lift at the high court at City Hall complex.

  7. 7 peter Friday, April 6, 2007 at 9:03 am

    There was a Hillman Restaurant and/or Red House restaurant down at Cantonment Road. Think Hillman was fmaous for its ‘sar po” dishes. Then I had my first go at “Yue Tow Mai Fan” at Keong Saik Street. Interestingly, every nite the men who patronize the prostitutes at Keong Saik Street would have a bowl of this dish before going home.

  8. 8 Mike Friday, July 10, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    I remember there was a restaurant in Hak Kai (in Cantonese means Dark Street) a nickname for a street that connects 2 roads in the 70s and 80s. Both roads run parallel to Beach Road.

    The 1st road has Odeon and Jubilee cinemas and the 2nd road is after the 1st road. Sorry, can’t recall their street names and the restaurant name.

    Anyway, this restaurant was apparently well-known(if my memory is kind) for its pak-chi chicken (white chicken in cantonese)dish.


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