Five On Friday: 5 iconic Singapore dining spots we wish were still around
The final menu: The 8 year journey of Octaphilosophy. Chef Andre has just officially announced the closure date of Restaurant ANDRE. (Photo: www.restaurantandre.com)
SINGAPORE: In the wee hours of Wednesday (Oct 11) morning, Chef Andre Chiang shook the culinary world when he announced that he was closing Restaurant Andre and returning both of the restaurant’s hard-earned Michelin stars.
The acclaimed Taiwanese chef also declared Feb 14, 2018 to be last day of service for the Bukit Pasoh Road eatery.
The news spurred some nostalgia for other food establishments that have closed their doors in Singapore over the years, some of which were significant in growing Singapore's restaurant scene.
Take a trip down memory lane with us as we look back at simpler days and savour some delicious memories.Troika
Older Singaporeans will remember the delicious oxtail, Mongolian barbeque and beef goulash at Troika, the forerunner of Shaslik.
The menu also included signature dishes such as borsch (vegetable soup), chicken a la Kiev, beef shaslik (kebab), blinis (pancakes) with caviar, fish solyanka soup and baked Alaska.
Although the popular restaurant boasted Russian recipes from a Russian chef named “Mummy Liber”, the dishes were actually cooked by Hainanese chefs who previously worked on Russian ships.
The restaurant first opened in 1963 as Troika Room-White Bear Restaurant by Tang Ching Yung on Bras Basah Road, and moved to Liat Towers on Orchard Road three years later.Troika closed in 1985 due to mounting debts but its staff went on to form two Russian restaurants - Shashlik and Balalaika Room. Shaslik continued Troika's culinary tradition for years by offering many similar dishes. It closed down briefly but has since reopened at its Far East Shopping Centre location earlier this March.
That said, it still doesn’t offer Mongolian barbeque like Troika which is why we would love to see a comeback.Silver Spoon/Skillets
The old Supreme House on Penang Lane which use to house Silver Spoon coffee house. (Photo: National Archives of Singapore)
Before it became Park Mall in 1992, older Singaporeans shopped at Supreme House through the 1970s and 1980s, and in that 14-storey building was a very popular and well-known coffee house called Silver Spoon.Initially named Skillets, the coffee house was renamed Silver Spoon in 1980 and was considered one of the hippest Singapore hangouts of its time, especially if you were an undergraduate looking to stay out all night. Popular for their circular design and table hostesses, the 24-hour coffee house was many kids' introduction to western food.
Many would rather remember tucking in to their fish and chips, accompanied by garlic bread and a bowl creamy soup, than the public tussle between estranged husband and wife owners Neo Tai Kim and Foo Stie Wah.Ponderosa
Ponderosa at Plaza Singapura was an unlimited salad bar buffet heaven in the 1980s and 1990s (Photo: http://4.bp.blogspot.com)
Hands up if you remember being a strapped-for-cash student saving up your allowance for that special trip to Ponderosa at Plaza Singapura.The Old West-themed restaurant chain known for its steaks, grilled chicken and all-you-can-eat salad bar buffet was the affordable eatery-du-jour for many locals in the 1980s and 1990s.
The way to any Singaporean’s heart is most certainly through the stomach, and by making its free-flowing salad bar buffet complimentary with any order of a main course, it was no surprise Ponderosa was a hit.
Parents were feeding families on pocket-friendly prices, while the kids were kept busy by the soft-serve ice cream station. What's not to love?Milano’s Pizza
The old Milano's Pizza at Holland Village (L) and a picture of its unique menu (R) (Photo: www.remembersingapore.org and www.roots.sg)
With its red-and-white checkered table clothes and thin-crusted pizza, Milano’s Pizza restaurant at the basement of Parkway Parade was the place to have your birthday party in 1980s Singapore.
With pizza toppings and pasta choices aimed closer to an Italian palate rather than an American one, Milano’s stood out from other Singapore pizzerias.
Unfortunately, by the mid-90s, the pizza chain could not survive and some of its outlets - like the one in Holland Village - were closed down. The remaining branches were acquired by rival Domino’s Pizza.Oh what we would give to taste their garlic bread again!L’Aigle d’Or
L’Aigle d’Or at Duxton Hotel was the place for French fine dining (Photo: http://www.asiatravel.com)
The only Relais & Chateau establishment in Southeast Asia in the 1990s, L’Aigle d’Or at Duxton Hotel was the French gem in the Singapore fine-dining scene and paved the way long before the onslaught of restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs.Along with other early names like Vis-à-Vis which was opened by Jeremy Choo in 1992; Latour at the Shangri-La Hotel, Maxim’s at the Regent Hotel and Les Amis, this was the dawn of serving up traditional French cuisine in Singapore.
Dining at L’Aigle d’Or was a tablecloth, crystal-wine-glass affair where birthdays and anniversaries were celebrated amidst expensive wine and fine cuisine.
A turn of the tide came in the late 1990s and early 2000s when many high-end French restaurants in hotels closed down in favour of more casual dining concepts. Then came a new age of stand-alone restaurants like Saint Pierre, Saint Julien, Gunther and Petit Salut which offered a high quality of food in more convivial and contemporary settings.
But L’Aigle d’Or at Duxton will always be a reminder of our first taste of the finer things in life.