Sipping Teh at a Kampong Kopitiam

I was reading about the kampong kopitiam” on the Chinese newspaper, and decided to pay a visit one morning.

Looking nothing like a typical coffeeshop found elsewhere in Singapore, it actually resembles more of an old school tuckshop. Housed in a single-storey colonial-styled building and named 398 Canteen, the kopitiam sits quietly at a corner along Piccadilly Road just a few steps outside the Seletar Camp.

Established in 1969, the canteen now serves mainly the NS personnel from the Seletar Camp, construction workers and some of the residents living nearby. In its early days, it enjoyed brisk business from the British military stationed at Seletar.

Sipping my teh quietly, I was enchanted by the nostalgic charm of the kopitiam which reminded me of the old army canteens I once frequently patronised during my NS days. It was a nice retreat away from the city life, as my morning seemed to be passing by slowly.

Inflation, too, seems unaffected here. According to the boss of the kopitiam, Mr Toh Ee Cheng, 62, the prices of the kopi and teh remain at 70/80c while a simple plate of nasi lemak is $1.

The customers can also choose to sit outside, under the trees and surrounded by sounds of cicadas. Little has been changed in the appearance of this forgotten place for the past decades.

However, Seletar itself has seen tremendous changes in recent years, due to the development of the new Aerospace Hub. Many old black and white colonial houses within the compound had already been vacated and demolished. Come December 2012, the 43-year-old kampong kopitiam will cease operation due to the expiring of its lease. Like many others, it will then formally walk into the history and disappear in the face of a modern Singapore.

Published: 24 August 2012

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26 Responses to Sipping Teh at a Kampong Kopitiam

  1. Fernvale Resident says:

    I have been reading your blog actively because it is interesting and honest to goodness. Please keep it up because this may well be the only simplified archive of things long gone; or will be. Have you ever thought of publishing it in the form of a hardcover book with supporting photos of old and new? I will definitely buy it for keepsake. Think about it, till then, this is already good enough! Job well done!

    • Thanks :)
      Yep, the concept of a free-for-all blog is good enough for the moment…
      I may also donate all my photos (though they are not excellently taken) to the National Archives of Singapore in the future

    • Tan Lai Hock says:

      Hi Fernvale Resident,

      I fully agreed with you that our friend had a marvellous job in archiving all the past historical site in his blogs. I am also a residing in Fernvale Block 406A. It is nice to have a common interest bloggers like you you that we can shared these blogs.

      We must not forget the hardwork of blogger friends here, i salute him.

  2. Dee says:

    Sad to hear this place is nearing its end.. Cheap and good food you can’t find anywhere else in S’pore…

  3. Eddy says:

    I went to the Kampung Kopitiam today (Sunday). Alamak! Wasted trip because they are closed..

  4. Erwin says:

    During my army days in the 1990s, I ate in the canteen almost everyday. I believe it is the same canteen. I was a Vehicle Electrician in the school of transport at that time.

  5. zzzisle says:

    wow how did you even find this place?

  6. Duncan says:

    I visit here today. It’s still open till October, the boss told me lor! thx for the Inf.

  7. Nelson Kwan says:

    I used to frequent this place in the course of my work in the area. I believe there is a hidden WWII air shelter right next to the coffee shop. The shelter should be similar to this:

    Bunker or Hobbit Home III? =P

    However, the ventilation shafts were gone and only an earth mould remains. Can anyone verify?

    Nelson

  8. Denihiloism says:

    Can anyone tell me where can I find this place? The address~ Thanks in advance.

  9. valrosx says:

    this canteen, was one the various canteens which dotted around Seletar Camp that i patronised during my NS days from 98-99. Last time it was mostly within the camp compound so it was No Entry to public.

  10. Timothy says:

    What a waste that so many such places and buildings are torn down in the name of modernization. Very soon, we will be like Dubai

  11. Tim says:

    Can anyone provide directions to this place? Many thanks.

  12. Vin @ JW says:

    Yes, i will love to pay a visit to this Canteen one of these days before it closes … a pity that they will be closed …

  13. Von says:

    Hi, may I ask what is their operating hours??? I will love to have a meal there. Thanks in advance.

  14. Hi all, this place is at 398 Piccadilly Road, just outside Seletar Camp. The opening hours are from 7+am to probably late afternoon (I passed by there once at 6+pm and it was closed).
    It is closed on Sundays…

    They also sell old school titbits, just in case anyone have some cravings :)

    By the way, here are some beautiful shots from http://urbanarchiver.com/2012/09/10/canteen-398-piccadilly-road/

  15. pixeleast says:

    A beautiful, functional and useful kopitiam replaced by a useless aerospace hub.

  16. Visitor says:

    Hi,

    I just visited this place , had a chat with the Stall owners and they told me the kopitiam will continue operations until further notice. Definitely not closing on December.

  17. mountshore says:

    There is a Private Club close to the KopiTiam. It changes hands several time (and different names) and the last time I remembered it was known as Mornington Crescent Club. Nice pool to hang out with the family. Is the Club still there Anyone? The food outlet is open to the public.

    • Garett says:

      Club at Mornignton Crescent is closed and fenced up. Area is currently managed by SLA.

      The old canteen supposed to be closed wef Dec 2012 is still around. Spoke to the boss last month and he told me the govt granted extension.

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