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Taste The Past: 6 Retro Cafés To Take You Back In Time

Nostalgia-themed cafés mine Singapore’s post-war years to serve up classic dishes in retro environments.
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This is for those dreaming of simpler days gone by: of clacking typewriters and games of Hopscotch or Five Stones, tucking into crumbly butter cake with a cup of hot kopi. Such is the draw of nostalgia that many cafes around the island have tried to capture a slice of Singapore’s past, whether through retro-themed décor and vintage paraphernalia or time-honoured recipes and even cheeky modernised dishes. Here are six quaint establishments you can visit for good nosh and to reminisce the good old days.
(Pic: Sinpopo Brand Facebook)
(Pic: Sinpopo Brand Facebook)
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Sinpopo Brand
Developed by the folks behind Awfully Chocolate, Sinpopo Brand is an ode to the rich history of its Katong neighbourhood, serving up innovative renditions of familiar local dishes. Think snacks of luncheon meat crisps and crab wontons. Or dig into a hearty nasi lemak or bone-in pork chop and curry. Drinks are decidedly retro-inspired too: Horlicks & Maltesers, Fake Bird’s Nest and Sng Muay Pop, anyone?

Old School Delights  
What started out in 2010 as a small family-run café in Upper Thomson Road has flourished into two outlets at The Esplanade Mall and City Square Mall bringing back canteen favourites from days past. The retro green tiles and wall-length blackboard evoke school-day memories, as does the collection of classic games like Happy Family, Old Maid and Five Stones. On the menu are homey dishes like chicken macaroni soup, nasi lemak and mee siam.
(Pic: Jubilee Coffee House & Bar Facebook)
(Pic: Jubilee Coffee House & Bar Facebook)
Jubilee Coffee House & Bar
Catch a glimpse of 1960s Singapore at this two-storey bungalow complete with a vintage car parked under the porch. The interiors feel authentically retro with vintage knick-knacks adorning the walls and mismatched dining sets. You won’t find hipster brunch food here — the menu reads almost like a zichar stall with sharing dishes of stir-fries, Assam seafood and even Teochew-style steamed pomfret.

British Hainan  
The menu is inspired by the experience of early Hainanese immigrants working and cooking on board British ships. Bangers And Mash and Fish And Chips sit comfortable next to Hainanese-inflected Western dishes like oxtail stew, braised lamb shank and Hainanese pork chop with the requisite tangy tomato sauce. Also for sale are the antique paraphernalia stuffed almost haphazardly in every nook and cranny of the restaurant (see banner image).
Scones at Dong Po Colonial Cafe (Pic: Dong Po Colonial Cafe Facebook)
Scones at Dong Po Colonial Cafe (Pic: Dong Po Colonial Cafe Facebook)

Dong Po Colonial Café
Kampong Glam is a neighbourhood rich in heritage and culture, and right in the heart of it is Dong Po Colonial Café. The tables are designed like glassed-in shadow boxes with vintage knick knacks displayed inside. Simple breakfast sets are available, offering local coffee and tea with toast, Bostock (French almond toast) or scones served with jam and fresh cream. The café is also a bakery turning out nostalgic confectionaries like pineapple tarts, almond macaroons (not macarons), colourful lamingtons, butter cakes and Swiss rolls.

Old Habits Boutique & Café
This charming café in Telok Blangah doubles as an antique store that serves hearty brunch food from massive meat platters to pastas and baked rice dishes. Lining the walls are vintage clocks, old photographs, posters and street signs while all manner of antiques from TVs to typewriters sit in shelves waiting for nostalgic souls to take them home.

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(Banner image from British Hainan Facebook)
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