The Labrador kopi shops are no more

This food stop has witnessed many a tall tale since days of old, being a traditional part of field trips to the nearby rocky shore and a pit stop for long bike rides heading west from the south of Singapore. I confess I never could remember the favoured stalls, and am not even sure if the food was exceptionally good. Finding a seat could be a struggle, the floor was oily, it wasn't brightly lit and stalls seemed crammed against each other.

But it was special, as places like these are wont to be. It was a rare gem of old Singapore squirreled away in the protective bosom, it had seemed, of the nearby cliff. The people, their interaction and response to you and the physical space somehow helped to suggest the flavour of an older time, when tolerance was in greater supply and everyone was not in a rush.

We stopped to listen to some flavourful tales in the middle of a bike rally, amidst a bemused and half-listening morning crowd while the peloton raced away. But for the Zendogs, it has always been about 'the journey not the destination.'

Notice was served to stall holders last year and today I learnt it has all been torn down. We can never conspire to meet there again, in that innocent little quarter that Singapore had forgotten to our relief. The relentless march that has robbed ordinary folk of simple, pleasant memories has claimed yet another victim.

Yet another tradition to share with our young uns' is lost. But we'll remember and conjure up others. Meanwhile we wonder, what will replace this? Fittingly, will it have been an MRT station that has contributed to its extinction? Anything but the sort of travesty that frowns at me from the heart of town?

Thanks to Kenneth Pinto for this photo!

Did you see it coming?

With details about the food too: “Labrador Villa Food Centre: Food Centres should have World Heritage Status!”, 07 May 2008.

“I just wish that some of the good old hawker centres can be put on the heritage list so that they can be preserved for our future generations. Just take tiny row of hawker stalls along Labrador Villa Road. It kind of reminds me of the good old hawker centre outside of the botanic gardens years ago. Serving mainly Malay and Indian Muslim food, it is probably the last of its kind in Singapore. When I look at it, I think “Wha, sure got good food”, but I am sure when the NEA officers look at it, they are thinking “Hmmm, put on upgrade list!” Perhaps the only way to preserve these places is to have them in opposition constituencies!”

“This place really has a nice Kampung atmosphere to it. Come in the afternoon and you will see lots of people drinking Teh Tarik and eating Epok Epok. One of the last places of its kind in Singapore! If you are a part of the Y Gen, you have to visit this place at least once to experience what Singapore was really like in the good old days before it gets handed the NEA Death Warrant!”

An album of memories
Thanks to Victor Khoo for his Flickr set of photos from 21 May 2007):

Where were they?

3 thoughts on “The Labrador kopi shops are no more

  1. It was a quaint little place, where you could feel that time stopped for just a while.

    The last stall on the right had pretty good teh halia..which now looks like it will be missed, sadly.

  2. The coffee shop was a compulsory stop for me to grab a packet of teh tarik before I walk down for my seagrass survey; and a can of 100 plus after a tiring session at the beach. I hope the stall owners found somewhere nice or will consider coming back IF there is going to be rebuilding.

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