Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Breakfast Steeped in Heritage

Together with fellow food bloggers, Camemberu and Putri Berendam, this Hungry Cow will be contributing two posts to National Heritage Board's online portal to celebrate all things heritage.

In food-crazy Singapore, I strongly believe food is certainly an integral part of our heritage.

With the Putu Bola experience as my first post, my next post focuses on one of Singapore's favourite breakfast food- kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs and kopi/teh. It is available in quintessentially every kopitiam on this little red dot.

But for a feel of nostalgia, try this local breakfast favourite at Chin Mee Chin Confectionery. This kopitiam has been around for ages (since 1950s?!)! The marble table tops, ceiling fan and repeated pattern of mosaic floor tiles of this Hainanese coffeeshop remain true to its era. While Chin Mee Chin Confectionery seems to be out-of-sync with rapidly modernizing Singapore, it is precisely this old world charm that appealed to my modern Singaporean soul.

I have not experienced the 1950s but I hear that in those (some say "good ol") days....

There was generally no air conditioning. TV sets were few and were in stunning black and white format. And for mass entertainment...Rediffusion, anyone? ....and definitely no Starbucks, Gardenia or even a PAP-led government.

Ok back to Chin Mee Chin Confectionery.

Chin Mee Chin Confectionery still roasts their own coffee beans, makes their own kaya, bakes their own buns and uses charcoal to grill their buns and boil coffee/tea. In this current world of fast food and convenience, that's amazing.

The Teh C (tea with evaporated milk) was served in an old-school porcelain cup and saucer. White sugar was available from a small beer glass, which some how reminded me of my grandfather's old provision shop, Nam Hong.

The Kaya Toast here featured buns, grilled over charcoal and smeared with a sweet, eggy kaya and topped with a pat of butter. A different experience from the usual toasted bread.

Two soft-boiled eggs perfectly cooked and enjoyed with a dash of dark soy sauce and white pepper. When slurped from the saucer, it provided warmth, comfort and nourishment. Proof that runny eggs, dark soy sauce and white pepper make a formidable combination that is as delicious as it is simple.

Chin Mee Chin Confectionery also does a small variety of baked goodies. Here's their egg tart and custard bun. Nothing fancy nor exquisite but the attraction is really their rustic and old-school appeal.

And hey! The old Hainanese man, who seems to be in his 80s+, is still working here sans the typical blue-and-white-stripes ah pek pants. Kudos to him for remaining active and being able to contribute at his age! Who says old = useless?

After the simple breakfast here, I can't help but relish the atmospheric nostaglia of many decades before my time and count myself privileged to have had a breakfast so steeped in heritage. Maybe a better way to teach National Education is to eat it!

Thank you, CMC. May you last for the sake of many future generations to come.

Chin Mee Chin Confectionery
204 East Coast Road
Tel: 6345 0419
Opens: 8am - 4pm
Closed: Monday

Chew On This:
Before we lose a national heritage.


Jer Lin said...

i think teaching NE through eating is not a bad idea at all! it is, however, unfortunate that some of the younger generation do not know how to appreciate hawker food.

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

The old man is proof that stirring huge pots of kaya everyday keeps you fit! LOL! Just had CMC kaya for brekkie and then I see your post. ;)

The Hungry Cow said...

stargirl: Agreed, hopefully NIE/MOE catches wind of this! To need to teach Singaporeans on the joy of hawker food would be very sad. :(

Ju: As long as he doesn't wolf down 1/2 e pot later! Hehe. Trust you had a good brekkie. :)

Unknown said...

superb...I love the raisin buns, with kaya and butter...oh my goodness...need to go there this afternoon.

The Hungry Cow said...

P. Chong: Happy Chin Mee Chin-ing!

Anonymous said...

hmm... the grandpa is not around anymore. i hope your photo was not taken recently

The Hungry Cow said...

Anonymous: It was taken from a visit quite a while ago. Let's hope he's alright.