My previous post about dating in the old days reminds of a place that I liked to go to. It was a coffee house called The Trishaw. It was located at ground floor of the Hotel Royal Ramada in Newton Road. I doubt it is still there. It had a rather unique ambience. The tables were configured like a trishaw with an artificial canopy. Can’t remember anything about the food though; me being never very particular in that department.
At the time when guys of my generation were leaving school in the late sixties and seventies, coffee houses became very popular for young working adults. Even the ‘bengs’ liked to frequent such places, calling them ‘kopi how’. But of course there were different classes of coffee houses; those in the hotels being more classy than those in the HDB heartlands.
The first coffee house I ever went to was called Silver Spoon (hope I got it right). It was located at the Supreme House in Penang Road. I believe it was also at one of the shops in this shopping centre that I bought my first pair of jeans. I think that too became a rage among youngsters at around the same time, especially the university and poly students. Levis, Lees and Amco were the popular brands. Anyway, a kampong boy like me knew nothing about fashion; just followed my younger brother James who was the trend-setter in our family when it came to such things. You could say he belonged to the “new jeanaration”.
I am afraid, I can’t recall the names of many other coffee houses of that era. But when I started working in Philips in Toa Payoh, my colleagues and I liked to go to a coffee house at Toa Payoh Central for cheap set lunches. I think it cost only a few bucks, complete with soup, coffee and desert. Cheap and fast. It was located near to the bus interchange.
At that time, (late 70’s to early 80’s) Toa Payoh Central was very different from what it is today, as you can see from the map of below. (Wah - the $16 that I paid for that 1981 street directory is really worth it man). Do you notice the huge Toa Payoh Circus? I told you before that it was one of the largest in Singapore; maybe second only to the Queens Circus in Queenstown. Another coffee house in Toa Payoh that we occasionally patronized was located just next to the Kong Chian Theatre next to the library.
When I started working in NPB in the mid-eighties, my work frequently brought me to Jurong. There my regular clients and I often went to the coffee house at Taman Jurong. Taman Jurong was very different from what it is today. I will blog about that place another day. Next to the coffee house which was along Corporation Road was a famous cake shop called B&W. That cake shop is now located at Taman Jurong Point. We still frequent the shop. Everyone in my family like their ‘tau sar piah’.
I can only recall two more. One was at Serangoon Road, near the junction with Boon Keng Road – saw a big cockroach there once. Now I remember why that place stayed in my mind after all these years. I was with my friend Simon, and he got terribly upset by the sight of the cockroach.
The last one was at Changi Village. It was just along the main road where there is now a long row of eateries. Sometimes after our in-camp training at Pulau Tekong, my army friends and I would go that for some ‘real’ food.
I am sure regular readers of my generation can remember many more names of coffee houses of our era which I have forgotten about.
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