Monday, January 3, 2011

Tong Ah - Singapore

Now We're Talking...
All you fake toast spots, stand aside.  All you wannabe toast joints, get outta the way.  We're talking old school, throw back, analog, original toast, Chinatown-style.  I'd been spending too much time at lame, wan, watered down mall toast places and Ah Tong was the antidote.  There, sitting amongst the shophouses I downed stacks of perfectly made butter-sugared and kaya toasts and chased them with cups of dark, satisfying kopi.
It seems so simple, you might be thinking.  Just toast, butter, sugar.  But for some reason, these taste better.  Perhaps it's the bread or maybe the butter or the method.  All I know is they tasted delicious and I ate more than a person should.  The kopi was deep and dark, barely reflecting any light.  This is the way to supercharge your day - I sat straight up in my chair and felt happier after a few of these.
The views are unbeatable.  Shophouses to the left and right allow in a lot of sunlight and breeze.
So old school, they still write their characters right to left. 

Get yourself a newspaper, take a seat, order up some toasts and coffee and taste the difference.
36 Keong Siak Road

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  1. Being unfamiliar of kaya toasts, what is that slab of Kraft cheese lookalike? (please please let it not be Kraft cheese)

  2. Yeah.. This is indeed one of the more traditional spots ard that's still good.. Bread was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside which is rare these days. Most places too crispy that it falls apart after one bite.

  3. @Jae_Em - no that is not Kraft cheese, that is a slab of butter. Kaya is not shown in the photo - it's a spread made from coconut milk, egg, pandan leaf and sugar.

  4. @Dodo - I miss it already. Need some.

  5. one of the few left in town. kopi is the thickest.

  6. A nice shot of the view. Like the one with Duxton squeezed in between. Good shot. I like it.

    Btw, if it is really old school, the chinese characters would be reading from right to left (which is true as you have rightly put), but in this case is it ah tong or tong ah? I always thought it is Ah Tong (which would mean reading from left to right) instead. You can check with the Filipino again, provided she has arr from her Alexis Air?!?

  7. @Anon - how long until there are none left? Sad.

  8. @Pirate - take a close look at their sign in the last shot. It reads from top to bottom and tong comes first, so I'm sticking with Tong Ah.

  9. It's Tong Ah. In the old days, this name is used for a strategic marketing reason. There are more than one shop with the name Tong Ah. Settlers and traders who arrived at the pier will always ask 'Which way to Tong Ah?' Merchants name their shops Tong Ah for this reason.

  10. wow so there is a reason. This name must have dated way back then. interesting. Thanks. This is v educational.

    How come Tong Ah? I guess I am too used to Ah something...

  11. @Pirate/Anon - ok, someone wanna break it down for me? What does it mean to come off the boat and ask "Which way to Tong Ah?"

  12. The full mandarin name is Tong Nan Ya = Southeast Asia. The abbreviation became Tong Ah. It's dialect.

    The only interest of merchants then is to bring in business and make huge sales during each landing via the pier. Free port during the British ruling and sea travel is a more affordable mode of travel than via air.

    Tong Ah carries a prestige name and has strong foothold of establishment, representing THE Southeast Asia. By selling all kinds of items in one shop called Tong Ah, the buyer can guarantee its authenticity, and the seller would make a killing from each buyer. Goods can be referred from hardware to commodities. Hence Tong Ah became a shop name sought after by merchants for prosperity purpose.

  13. @Anon - hmmm, very interesting. Thanks for the explanation.


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