It was a warm and humid afternoon. There were few customers in this old kopitiam tucked away at the ground floor of one of the old HDB flats at North Bridge Road.
The sleepy neighbourhood had seen several changes in the past three decades; the once-popular Plaza Cinema and Golden Sultan Theatre at the nearby Textile Centre and Sultan Plaza were long gone. Eng Cheong Tower, standing beside North Bridge Road Hawker Centre, has been redeveloped into a condominium named Southbank in the mid-2000s.
But Heap Seng Leong still holds its ground against the name of progression and development. Its interior has remained largely the same for years, served by the old uncle in his pajamas who makes dozen cups of kopi day after day.
The plastic chairs are perhaps the only “new” things in the kopitiam. The others, such as the round marble-top tables, Formica tables, Diamond-brand electric clock, Bakelite switches, orange payphone and old wooden cabinets, remind one of Singapore of the seventies and eighties.
Heap Seng Leong’s “specialty” is kopi gu you (coffee with butter). The dissolving butter may not look too pleasing to the eye, but it certainly adds a nice aroma and taste to the thick coffee.
While other modern coffeeshops keep on raising their prices, using inflation as a convenient excuse, Heap Seng Leong’s beverages remain affordable, which is a good news to the elderly living in this estate.
So the next time you pass by North Bridge Road, show your support by having a cup of kopi or a plate of Hokkien mee at Heap Seng Leong, because how much longer will this old kopitiam last? Nobody knows.
While writing this article, another old kopitiam is about to cease its operation soon.
Chin Hin Eating House, established at Tanglin Halt since 1976, has decided to call it a day at the end of February 2014. The aging housing district, commonly known as chup lau (tenth floor) is slated for demolition and redevelopment.
Published: 26 February 2014
I still like to eat wanton mee with a cup of kopi for my lunch 🙂
Reblogged this on AllFun&Done and commented:
Kopi with butter. mmmm
I went to Chin Hin Eating House less than a month ago. The wanton mee is surprisingly delicious. Sitting at the eating house and looking out those the nearby sky scrapping hdb flats, it looks like modern Singapore has forgotten to claim this place. Sad to know that it’s shutter will be shut permanently.
I had my order of kopi gu you , toast and eggs. Absolutely love the old feel of the place, it is like Singapore in the good old eighties…
What is the street number on North Bridge Road for Heap Seng Leong ?
Hi, the exact address is Block 10 North Bridge Road #01-5109
What a shame that the old nostalgic coffee shop at Tanglin Halt is closed for good. I really like nostalgic places, and has just chanced upon this old coffee shop a few months ago. I visited it weekly until I was notified it will close for good. Really like the quiet and peaceful surroundings of the old vacated HDB blocks.
Another coffee shop which is quite old as this is at Lengkok Bahru Block 50 something. (Either Blk 56 or 57) next to a big old tree, where the elderly have coffee under the tree. It sells fish ball noodles, apart from the coffee store.
The Lengkok Bahru one is closed too.
Exactly why are these fragments of old Singapore’s soul all disappearing.
Rents getting too high or demolition for re-development or the young going to fast ( junk ) food joints ?
Hup Lee at Jalan Besar, one of the few old school kopitiams left in Singapore, had closed in August 2017