Archive for the 'Food & Beverages' Category

Bye Bye To Hollywood Theatre And Lion City Hotel Part 2

…continued from Part1.

Sorry for the long delay in the second part of this post.

After 43 years, the Lion City Hotel was gone…Yes, this Lion City Hotel costing $4.2M then was opened in 1968 by the late Dr.Goh Keng Swee, the Minister for Finance. Construction of the hotel started in 1965 at the junction of Tanjong Katong Road and Geylang Road by Wee Thiam Siew Co. Ltd.

C redit : Singapore Press Holding, SPH

It was a 10 storey hotel with 168 fully aircon rooms. It was then near to the Singapore Airport which was at the Paya Lebar then and the city. You will be surprise with the rate then : $30 to $35 for Single Room, $40 to $45 for Double Room, $60 for Family Suite and $90 for Deluxe Room.

Those who had been to the hotel, the shopping complex below was considered an unique feature and one of the largest then. It housed an emporium which sold China products, and there were also a snack-bar, and finance company and bank. There was even a first class restaurant then on the first floor catering both European and Chinese dishes in the evening with a live band playing soft music for dancing. On the ground floor, there was a cocktail lounge too. Maybe many may not be aware that there was even a swimming pool located on one of the floor in the hotel but in the later years, the pool was removed.

It is sad that the Lion City Hotel together with the Hollywood Theatre had to make way for new developments. When you are reading this post, the hotel and it’s surrounding are gone;

Above : Lion City Hotel then

Above : Lion City Hotel going

And the surrounding Hin Hollywood Canteen also disappear;

Above : Then

Above : Gone

So what is left now is probably the Thank You note from their website;

Credit : Lion City Hotel

I remember when I moved in to Haig Road in the 70s, there was the Oriental Emporium on the ground and 1st floor on the Lion City Hotel;

Above 3 Credits : Lee Kip Lin and National Library Board, taken in 1994

Oh the McDonald and Kentucky Fried Chicken were there too! The KFC was opened in 1982 and you can see their ads looking for helpers for the 20th outlet at Lion City Hotel;

Credit : SPH, Straits Times

Of course at one time, the 人民百货公司 (People’s Emporium) was there in place of the Oriental Emporium. Only until the later years, it became a furniture showroom and the ground floor with a mixture of shops;

I still preferred the Oriental Emporium as I liked window shopping there after my dinner as they had a more variety of goods.

Some of the shops already moved out during the last few weeks;

The Happy Restaurant (双喜楼) just besides the main entrance to the hotel;

The restaurant was located upstair on the 1st floor;

In fact almost every year during the Chinese New Year, I would still go there to buy the Yu Sheng (鱼生). I also got mix-up and confused with the other similar names of the restaurant nearby – one at the Tanjong Katong Complex, while the other one in Lion City Plaza.

Even my father like the claypot rice in the Lion City Cafe;

I remember there was once Filipino live band playing in this cafe/snack bar;

The Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlet was just round the corner;

The main entrance to the Lion City Hotel;

The hotel lobby;

The hotel back entrance;

The ‘sheltered carpark’ of the hotel;

The linkway joining the shopping complex and the hotel;

You can see a spiral staircase joined to it;

You can see the other spiral staircase on the right side partially hidden by the tree;

In the past, I like to walk to the Oriental Emporium via this back entrance;

The aerial view of the Oriental Emporium from the Haig Road flats (I supposed) in 1984;

Credit :  PICAS, Naitonal Archive of Singapore

I’m trying to get the same aerial view from the top floor of the flat;

The demolishing of the government quarters in 1974 to make way for the Haig Road Hawker Centre and flats. In the background is the Lion City Hotel with the linkway;

Credit :  PICAS, Naitonal Archive of Singapore

Looking at the Hollywood Theatre from the demolished government quarters in 1974;

Credit :  PICAS, Naitonal Archive of Singapore

When I first look at the above photo, the Hollywood Theatre was not so obvious until I compared it with the below photo;

Distant view of the Lion City Hotel probably from the Sims Avenue or Geylang Road junction;

A 1970 photo of the Lion City Hotel;

Above 2 credits : PICAS, Naitonal Archive of Singapore

Current View;

1994 view of the hotel from the overhead bridge;

Below is one I took from the overhead bridge in 2011;

What my father wrote;
“A Stumble May Prevent A Fall.”

Holland Water – Hor Lan Shui

Have you ever wonder why the Cantonese usually called soft drinks as “Holland Water” (Ho Lan Shui, 荷兰水) in the past?

I remember Victor had a related post  on this in his blog, and he mentioned something like “originated from a Hokkien who while entertaining a visiting guest, called out to someone in the house to ‘hor lan chui’ which means ‘serve the guest water’ ” which Chun See dismissed it as plain nonsense. Of course there are some that think “Hor Lan Shu” was first produced or invented in Holland…

Credit : 现代快报

Here is a bit of the history on soft drinks. It all depends on how you look at soft drinks – “non carbonated water” or “carbonated water”.

The first soft drinks to be marketed appeared in 1676 (17th century) which is a mixture of water and lemon juice sweetened with honey. The company “Compagnie de Limonadiers” was formed in Paris and granted a monopoly for the sale of its products. Vendors carried tanks on their backs from which they dispensed cups of lemonade. This is the first version of “non carbonated” soft drinks.

Soft drinks are also referred to as carbonated drinks that are non-achoholic and thus the term “soft drinks” is employed in opposition to “hard”, i.e. drinks with high alcoholic content by volume. In 1767, Dr.Joseph Priestley (an Englishmen) invented the first drinkable man made glass of carbonated water.

Dr.Joseph Priestley

His invention was meant as a cure for scurvy (a kind of disease caused by lack of vitamin C) for the crew in James Cook’s second voyage to the South Seas.

Dr.Priestley did not exploit the commercial potential of this carbonated soft drinks, but Johann Jacob Schweppe, a German-born jeweller but amateur scientist, did in 1770 (late 18th century).

Johann Jacob Schweppe

J.J. Schweppe moved his business to London in 1792 but was not successful and failed in 1795. OK, so much for the history of soft drinks.

In fact this post is a bit related to my previous post on “Holland or Netherlands“. Remember I mentioned about The Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC) established in 1602, and was granted a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia. The Dutch East India Company beat all of its rivals in the Asia trade. Of course Holland was not the first to trade in China, in the 13th and 14th centuries, a number of Europeans mainly Christian missionaries sought to penetrate China. One of the famous one was Marco Polo then, but all these had little permanent effect on the East-West trade.

Marco Polo

The Portuguese succeeded in finding new sea route for a cheaper and easier access to South and East Asia goods. The first Portuguese ships reached Canton on the southern coasts of China in 1516. By 1557, they gained a permanent base in China at Macau. But the Portuguese maritime supremacy still lose out to the Holland in the 17th century. This posed a serious challenge to Portugal with the establishment of Dutch East India Company.

Below shows the Dutch East India Fleet in 1599;

Credit : National Maritime Museum, London

The Dutch East India Company colonies or outposts were also established in Canton, China and Taiwan (1624 – 1662). But in 1662, Zheng Chenggong expelled the Dutch from Taiwan. By 1669, the Dutch East India Company was the richest private company in history, with a huge fleet of merchant ships and warships, tens of thousands of employees. They were confined to trade only in Canton and Macau from the 16th century to 18th century.

Below shows ships off Canton circa 1847-1856;

Credit : National Maritime Museum, London

By the 18th Century, the number of merchants who came to China increased. As you remembered, the soft drinks were already commercialised during this period and were brought into China via Canton by the Holland merchants.

So the people in Canton termed such soft drinks as “Hor Lan Shui” (荷兰水).

Below shows selling of Mint drink “薄荷水” passing off as “Hor Lan Shui” in China;

This “Hor Lan Shui” (荷兰水) was mentioned in a 1876 book titled “沪游杂记” in Shanghai.

The book “沪游杂记”;

Along with soft drinks, potatoes and snow peas were also brought into Canton by the Holland merchants.

Thus the word “荷兰薯” for potatoes and “荷兰豆” for snow peas. It was a common practice to term the products or goods from the countries that brought them in – in this case Holland.

But now, are there potatoes and snow peas really from Holland? Guess….But when someone said you “饱死荷兰豆” (literally translate – full until die snow peas) it means you are really stupid and silly. When someone said something silly and stupid, we said “饱死” to ourselves in cantonese. As to how “荷兰豆” also means stupid and silly, it is actually translated into “Holland Bean” which means “好伦笨” in Cantonese tone and that “伦” is rather vulgar in Cantonese. So “好伦笨” also means “very stupid”. In full, “饱死荷兰豆” means you are silly and stupid. This phrase was very popular in the 80s but not so now.

Now do you think that we Cantonese really like to relate a lot of things to Holland? Before I end, just to let you know that the Cantonese also called playing cards as “荷兰牌”, why?

Haha why is it known as  “荷兰牌”, I really don’t know – do you?


What my father wrote;

“He who pays the piper calls the tune.”


Old Advertisements – The Well Known Examination Drink

You may be wondering why I didn’t post for quite sometime. It’s the examination period now (October and November) for primary or secondary school students. Though my eldest son (Sec.3) has just completed his examination last week, my daughter will have her 4 main subjects exam next week starting 2 Nov. She is in Primary 4 now, and her exam stretched over a period of 2 months. The Primary School exam now split into many parts like Oral, Listening Comprehension, Picture Discussion, Composition and Paper 2, etc. No doubt they have less to prepare for each paper, but it’s rather stressing over a long period. They don’t seem to have any pressure or stress, but now for me… I have to help them during this period by revising together with them, pressurising them and giving them more assessment books to do. Now they even avoided going to Popular Bookstore with me…

My kids are lucky that they have the well known ‘Examination Drink’ that was passed down through generations – The Brand’s Essence Of Chicken. I don’t even have a sip of it during my time and it was usually given to women who have just given birth. Now my kids just gulped it down their throat as they have the children’s version (smaller bottle).

This Brand’s Essence Of Chicken has changed over the years in terms of packaging and advertisments. I have this print ad from the Chinese Newspaper (Nayang Siang Pau) 1981, about 28 years ago;

                                                                                                                           Credit : Nayang Siang Pau, 1981

How I wish to have a set of that playing cards! See those prizes – VHS tape recorder, CRT TV, portable radio and cassettes player, they are so nostalgia. I love print ads more than any other media ads because it’s something that I can hold it physically.

Below is another Brand’s print ad between 1950s to 1969;

Credit : PICAS, National Archives of Singapore

This one is even older, between 1948 to 1968. I like this one as it said “Brand’s Essence of Chicken has been instrumental in saving many lives in Malaya”. Also look at the packaging at that time, in a can?;

Credit : Cerebos Pacific Limited Singapore

By looking at the old ad, we can see that this Brand’s Essence of Chicken has its packaging changed over the years. This is how it looks like now;

Of course the packaging has been changed to glass bottle for a long time. Do you realise that the cap also have change? Take a look at the new cap now;

See the rubber gasket inside the cap seems to have disappeared. Now take a look at the older cap (just probably one ‘generation’ before this current one);

The above cap you still can see the rubber gasket but I remembered the older type has a dark maroon color type of gasket. Moreover it’s more difficult to open a bottle of Brand’s Essence of Chicken compared to the now new twist open cap;

Credit : Cerebos Pacific Limited Singapore

See this old ad (I don’t remember seeing it frankly, just ‘Google it out’) on how difficult it was to open the cap;

I like this Brand’s Essence of Chicken ad sometime back, it’s about a guy with ‘super memory’;

and also another ad with the ‘flying dagger in the office’; this one is funny I think;

But the above ad seems to be marketing the product towards the adult and not much to the children or students. In other countries, I think I still can find the Brand’s ad targeted towards the students. Check out the below ads (probably in other countries);

This one below maybe have seen it before;

OK, so much for the ads. But I’m really surprised when I tried to find out more about this Brand’s Essence of Chicken – it really was a tonic soup even fit for a King! Here is a little facts on the tonic drink Brand’s Essence of Chicken which has about 189 years of history;

不说您不知 (Don’t say, you don’t know), the late King George IV of United Kingdom was known to be extravagant and obese. His heavy drinking and indulgent lifestyle had affected his helath by the late 1820s. Thus his royal chef Mr.H W Brand (this tonic drink was named after him) developed an essence of chicken beverage to boost His Majesty’s health.

The chef upon his retirement, made this tonic soup commercially.

Credit : Cerebos Pacific Limited Singapore

In 1920s, the Brand’s Essence of Chicken was already marketed in Asia, and Singapore was among the first country it sold to. Pretty long time ago right? Now the Brand’s Essence of Chicken comes in different flavour too like those with codyceps, etc. But I still preferred the original one!

So once the product is well established, competition came in and other type of essence also appeared in the market too. This one also appeared in the 80s ad;

Frankly I still preferred chicken essence flavour than other types.

Of course there are other direct competition too like this brand;

Do you still remember this ad;

So which do you prefer? As for me, definitely the original one and original taste…

What My Father Wrote ;


10 Pcs A Box Butter Cake

How many pieces of cake can be packed in this box? 10 pieces, yes in the past we usually have such 10 pieces a box cake. Like my godmother’s family, there are 8 children and including godmother and godfather there will be 10 of them. So a box of cake will be just enough!

This is the good old tasty type of butter cakes that I like best. Frankly I don’t like those cheese cakes or blueberry cheese cakes and fresh cream cakes nowadays. I still prefer the old butter cakes but some confectionary shops just don’t make them well. This one at Beach Road, said to be an very old shop, their butter cakes are to my liking (I’ve no relation or dealings with them, I’m just a customer).

Simple design, simple taste that brings back good old memories. Of course it was very much cheaper in the 70s, now it’s 80 cents a piece. My godfather used to buy at least 2 boxes of cakes home in the past so that some of us can have more than 1 piece. One thing I missed very much is the Rum cake. Anyone know where I can still find them?

My 10 Cents Bowl Of Noodle

Of course this bowl of fish ball noodle costs more than 10 cents now in a food court. I remembered when I was a primary school boy in Beatty Primary School, around 70s, I paid only 10 cents for 1 bowl of fish ball noodle.

Though the quantity was not much, but it tasted so wonderful! Was it really so tasty? Or because the joy of having making your own decision to buy whatever food you like without your parents interference in the school tuckshop (we used to call the canteen – tuckshop then)? I guess so too….

The other thing about eating noodle soup in the school tuckshop was after finishing it, we could just walked right into the stall to refill the soup as many times as we like. I would tried to scoop right to the bottom hoping to find some leftover fishcake or meat in the soup. After refilling the soup, I would add in more chilli to add taste to the soup.

Well just a simple thing like this could made us very happy then. Of course, life was simple then. The bowl design was very similar to this one below, those “cock” pattern bowl;

Now a bowl of fish ball noodle in my girl’s primary school canteen costs her 60 cents. Of course the kids now will not bother about such free refilling of soup any more.

Ovaltine VS Milo

When I was shopping at Shop N Save at Tampines Mart last week, I realised that the prices of almost all items have gone up tremendously. Even the 3-1 Milo pack (my children reminded me to replenish it) has gone up in price. This led me to compare the prices between Milo and Ovaltine (as I used to substitute Coke with Pepsi)…Ovaltine is cheaper by about 50cents and comes with a free premium game!

After I reached home, I started to think – Ovaltine or Milo, which is ‘older’? I mean which product was marketed first?

I remember when I was very young and staying with my Godmother’s family at Beatty Road, she used to make ‘O val tin Kar Dan’ (Cantonese) for me, which is breaking an raw egg into a cup of very hot Ovaltine. My first contact with Milo was maybe in mid Primary (probably Pri. 3 or 4), when I was told to draw a tin of Milo and color it with poster color. So I guess should be Ovaltine first then Milo….hehe.

Below shows the old Milo tin that I used to draw for my art lesson;

OK, let’s do some research;


Started in : 1865

Country of Origin : Switzerland but first manufactured in Britain

Meaning of Name Ovaltine : Oval means Egg

How It Started : In 1865, George Wander set up his own laboratory in Bern (Switzerland) . There he produced a malt extract which for decades was to provide a vital food supplement for children and sick people. When he died, his son Albert, a pharmacist and chemist, worked to improve the product, adding other natural energizing ingredients to the malt extract. In 1904, Ovaltine was born.

Invented by George Wander originally as “Ovo-Maltine” in Switzerland – a fortified barley powdered egg malted-milk beverage. His son’s Albert had it produced in Britain but the British spelt it wrongly and thus the name “Ovaltine”. It was later that cocoa was added to it and thus the current Ovaltine! Read more about it here.

Product : Sold as nourishing bedtime drink

Look at the billboard ad along New Bridge Road in the 60s;

Photo Credit above :

How a 1921 Ovaltine tin looked like;

A 1961 Ovaltine ad;


Started in : 1934

Country of Origin : Australia

Meaning of Name Milo : Derived its name from MILON (600 BC), a champion athlete of ancient Greek mythology. He was renowned for his feats of strengths.

How It Started : Invented by Thomas Mayne, an industrial chemist working at a Nestlé factory in Australia. The product was launched in 1934.

Product : Sold as tonic food drink

Below shows an old advertisement in 1940 (Straits Times);

Credit : SPH, Straits Times

If you can’t see clearly how a 1940 Milo tin looked like, here it is in color (the top tin);

Credit : Nestle

Many uses of such Ovatine and Milo tins such as storing of money as ‘piggy bank’. The Milo tin was usually used as kinda ‘cash register’ in some old shops.

You can find this Milo tin hanging as a ‘cash register’ in this shop even in the 90s;

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

You may find Milo ads in most sports competition;

Credit : SPH, Straits Times

Below shows an Ovaltine signboard in a shop (1986);

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Now both Ovaltine and Milo have undergone many changes in packaging, product types and taste as well. It seems that Milo are more aggressive in advertising especially in the sports arena as you can see on the Milo tin itself. Did Ovaltine still comes in tin form now???

So which one do you prefer Ovaltine or Milo? My kids prefer Milo – don’t know why?

That A&W I Knew

First thing comes to mind is the Root Beer when one mention A&W! And I love that Root Beer Float!

This followed by their waffle with ice-cream on top. I love this more than their Coney Dog (hot dog);

You have probably read about A&W in Chun See post and Aroma Cookery.

Most of us knew that the first A&W store opened at Dunearn Road in 1966. It was the first fast food from US to step into Singapore and later expanded throughout the island and including the zoo. Due to competition from other fast food chain, business was affected. In 1999, the outlet at the Singapore Zoo was closed down. By 2002, there were only 7 outlets around the island. So did A&W finally closed in 2003 or 2004? Not sure. You may probably still find A&W in Malaysia.

How many of us know what ‘A&W’ stands for? The company name was taken from the last name initials of partners Roy Allen and Frank Wright. See the history here and here.

The last A&W I still can find in Singapore was at the Changi Airport Transit area (can’t remember which terminal). In some records found on internet, in 2003 the A&W outlets are found at;

  • A & W Changi Airport T2
    Airport Blvd Changi Airport Passenger Terminal 2
  • A & W City Plaza
    810 Geylang Rd. #01-00 City Plaza
  • A & W Cuppage Mall
    Orchard Rd #01-K3
  • A & W Woodlands
    Blk 548 Woodlands Dr. #01-20
  • A & W Tampines
    Blk 201D Tampines St. 21 #01-1155
  • A & W Tampines
    Blk 205 Hougang St. 21 #01-133 Heartland Mall-Kovan

I’m most bewildered by the outlet at Tampines Blk. 201D. As I’m staying near there, but I’ve not got the chance to eat at that outlet. It was a very small outlet (with aircon installation but you can’t feel the aircon type) and once I went in, I started to perspire. So I was out without having ordering anything. That outlet even got Nasi Lemak in it’s menu! But think it lasted only about 1 year or so…

Do you still remember this outlet at Bukit Merah (besides the old HDB HQ)?

Photo Credit : Designed For Living, HDB.

Here are some old glasses from A&W found during the July Singapore Heritage Fair;

So what is left now are just cans and cans of Root Beer that we can buy from the supermarkets;


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April 2020