5 Favourite Mom-and-Pop Shops To Explore

Make a trip down to these endearing small businesses to #SupportLocal.

By Stephanie Wong        4 February 2022

Online shopping has never been more in demand now that the pandemic has forced us to limit our social interactions. Whether it’s through e-commerce websites, mobile apps, or even instant messaging, you can buy almost anything and get it delivered with just a click or a swipe.

However, many traditional small businesses have not been able to hop onto the digital bandwagon because they are not tech-savvy or cannot afford to engage such services. What they offer, instead, are cosy vibes, friendly smiles, decades of honest work, and a slice of history.

Take a trip down memory lane with these 5 mom-and-pop establishments, where you can indulge in delicious traditional fare, catch a rare glimpse into the good old days, and experience the artistry of a disappearing trade. Let’s support local!

1. Dona Manis Cake Shop

Photos from Instagram: (L-R) @feedmethatnow, @sgfoodfinder

A not-so-hidden gem, Dona Manis Cake Shop has been around for over 30 years. The traditional bakery is run by husband-and-wife team Tan Keng Eng and Soh Tho Lang, who firmly believe in quality over quantity. Their small selection of pastries is all meticulously made from scratch. Although the bakery has struggled with reduced footfall and manpower shortages due to the pandemic, their signature Banana Pie continues to attract a cult-like following. The pie’s flaky crust is perfumed with toasted coconut while the caramelised banana filling is perfectly complemented by a crunchy topping of roasted almonds. Another crowd favourite are the Chocolate Tarts, which melt in your mouth to reveal a mousse-like centre.

865 Mountbatten Road, Katong Shopping Centre B1-93, Singapore 437844
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00am to 4:30pm

2. Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry

Photos from Instagram: @whatlizhaseaten

Nestled in the Tiong Bahru enclave among trendy cafes is a modest family-run bakery that has been around since the 1970s. Despite its name, Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry is better known for their traditional handmade nonya kuehs. Favourites among their wide selection of classic treats include Putu Ayu, a steamed coconut and pandan sponge cake, and Kueh Dadar, rolled pandan crepe with coconut filling. They also offer classic baked goods, like Pandan Kaya Cake and Coconut Tart. Currently run by their fourth-generation owners, the bakery is often raved about by their loyal fanbase as the best kueh purveyors in town with reasonable price tags and friendly service to boot.

Blk 55 Tiong Bahru Rd, #01-39, Singapore 160055
Open Monday to Saturday from 10:00am to 8:00pm

3. Prince Coffee House

Photos from Instagram: @theipohtongue

Traditional Hainanese-style Western food establishments have been vanishing over the years, and among the handful that are still around, Prince Coffee House is perhaps best known for their charming service. Owner Jimmy Lin, affectionately known as Uncle Jimmy by regulars, has been serving honest, delicious fare with a beaming smile and a side of friendly banter since 1977. Must-haves on the menu include the hearty Oxtail Stew that is slow-cooked to fall-off-the-bone perfection, the crispy Hainanese Pork Chop slathered in tangy tomato sauce, and the wok hei-infused Beef Hor Fun from their zichar selection. Now located in a small shophouse along Beach Road, the minimally decorated restaurant exudes nostalgia with checkered placemats, patterned plates, and plastic drinking glasses. When you visit, don’t miss their takeaway items, like yam cake, chicken pie, and apple pie.

249 Beach Road, #01-249, Singapore 189757
Open daily from 11am to 9:30 pm

4. Tee Seng Store

Photos from Instagram: (L-R) @li.lium.lj, @sensorshift

On a quiet residential corner off Serangoon Gardens, time seems to have stood still. Fitted with a zinc roof, slatted windows, and wooden cabinets with glass sliding doors filled with daily necessities, Tee Seng Store has remained largely unchanged since it opened in 1955. It offers such a rare insight into the bygone days that it was used as the setting to Royston Tan’s 2016 telemovie Provision Shop. It is also the only provision shop on our mainland that is housed in a landed property (the other is on Pulau Ubin). Owner Ang Lu Heng took over the business in 1960 and has been running it with his wife very much the same way for decades. The shop has no digital presence and only accepts cash. In fact, they only upgraded to a cash register in 2007 after retiring their pulley money-can setup.

31 Rosyth Road Singapore, Singapore 546191
Open daily from 8:00am to 8:00pm

5. Hak Sheng & Co

Photos from Instagram: (L-R) @perfectlypainted_, @mari_with_babiesg

Believed to be the last rattan weaver in Singapore, Goh Kiok Seng has been in the business since his father started the company in 1969. Today, his son Patrick runs the operations at their store in Kallang Bahru, which is stacked from floor to ceiling with a dizzying array of handwoven products. There are the essentials, such as chairs, stools, baskets, and trays, and also quirkier items, like rocking horses, fly swatters, and pillows. If you need more reason to support this vanishing trade, rattan and bamboo make perfect accessories to give your home that trendy naturalistic or retro aesthetics. You may even talk to them about creating bespoke pieces, including carpentry.

66 Kallang Bahru, Singapore 330066
Open Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm and Saturday from 9:00am to 4:00pm

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