The OGs of Super-Retro Chong Pang City
Love the retro vibe of Chong Pang City? From a Mediacorp artiste’s family jeweller to bak kwa shop of cult status, local author and long-time resident Mr Oh Kian Tee, who has lived in Chong Pang for more than three decades, point out some of the oldest businesses that have grown in tandem with the neighbourhood.
Chin Cheong Goldsmith
A second-generation goldsmith who relocated his jewellery shop to Chong Pang in 1984, 59 year-old Mr Vincent Lee is a well-known face in the neighbourhood. “We run an honest trade and offer our customers good value – this is how we have survived the decades,” shares Mr Lee. “Being situated in a HDB shop unit also means that our costs are very different from those in malls – and we pass the cost savings to our customers.” His shop – one of the oldest in the district – is where generations of Chong Pang residents go to for Si Dian Jin (a set of rings, earrings, necklace and bracelet for the bride). Even the mother of Mediacorp actress Pan Lingling is an old-time customer. Apart from pieces sporting traditional designs, Chin Cheong also offers a full suite of services, from buy-backs to customisation.
Chee Nien Tong Medical Hall
It is all too easy to walk by this florescent-lit shop unit without even giving it a glance. But Chee Nien Tong Medical Hall—founded in 1975—is the oldest surviving medical hall in Chong Pang. You might find yourself having a conversation with an elderly gent with a handsome shock of silver hair—this would be the second generation owner Mr Hu who took over the shop from his father. The frills-free space carries a wide range of ointments, supplements and over-the-counter medication, but those in the know come here for their blend of Shi Quan herbal soup mix, which packs a good vitalising punch.
While quite a few stalls at Chong Pang Food Centre originally hailed from other parts of Singapore, Rainbow Dessert has been there since the market was established in 1984. Mdm Ong Soo Hoo was in her 20s when she opened the shop with her husband, and they’ve been serving up bowl after colourful bowl of sweet treats since. A popular item here is the Black Sugar Ice Kacang, which is drizzled with gula melaka. For something more decadent, the Chocolate Cocktail Ice is a tower of fruits, chocolate sauce, and sprinkles. You also can’t go wrong with the tau suan – it won an award at the 2015 City Hawker Food Hunt.
Poh Chuan Soon Provision Shop
Whoever came up with the Chinese idiom “a sparrow is small yet complete” might as well have been talking about this provision shop hidden within the bustling Chong Pang Market. Packed to the rafters with Asian sauces, seasonings and all manner of dried goods, it is also where those in the know come from across the island to buy preserved vegetables and a wide variety of dried seafood. Run by the affable owners who are happy to share their insider's knowledge on the wares they carry, it is one of the original stalls that opened with the market, and a definitely local institution.
According to some long-time residents, Chong Pang always comprised of a harmonious mix of those from many races—and it shows. Those living here need not brave the crowds at Little India for special ingredients and spices used in Indian cuisine, or even prayer items used in Hindu rituals. Karthika Supermarket, a well-known named in Little India which started out as an importer and distributor, has its only outpost located smack in the heart of Chong Pang. However, customers of all race and religion flock to this well-stocked shop for their diverse offerings. According to Chong Pang old-timers, this unit has always occupied by mamak shops, with the former being Vinoth Provision Store—an old name that operated for decades in the neighbourhood and was incorporated into the Karthika business empire.
WHILE YOU ARE THERE:
Chong Pang Old-Time Flavor
This might not be a heritage business in Chong Pang, but certainly worth a visit while you are heere. Their outlet in Old Airport Road has attained almost cult-status, with a perpetual queue of people waiting to get their hands of the fluffy Castella cakes. But few know that this little shop in Block 101 in Chong Pang is really where it all started. In fact, even all-knowing Google thinks that the Old Airport Road outlet is the only one on the island (when in fact this family business also has branches in Bukit Merah and Tampines). With the Chinese characters of neighbourhood name “Chong Pang” branded onto each cake, you could almost say these pillow-soft confections are the best souvenirs to bring home from you visit to Chong Pang.