Just before the Hari Raya Puasa holiday, my good friend Boon Hwee asked if Gilbert and I would like to shoot the Hin Hollywood Canteen, near the Paya Lebar/Tanjong Katong area. It was to be closed for redevelopment from 1 Sep 2011. Being a fan of historical places as well as an interest of documenting things and scenes which will be gone, I readily agreed.
We met at the Paya Lebar MRT Station and proceeded towards the Hin Hollywood Canteen which is opposite the City Plaza shopping mall.
The canteen, which is actually more of a traditional coffee shop is located near the Hollywood Theatre, hence the name. No longer a theatre, it used to house the City Harvest Church before they moved to their present location at Jurong West and now houses the Sheng Shiong Supermarket. This too, would be torn down for redevelopment come 1 Sep 2011.
The coffeeshop/canteen itself is a rectangular block at the edge of a carpark. A Chinese documentary featured the place and people swarmed to it after learning of the impending closure. This somewhat reminded us of the people swarming to the 2 railway stations just before their closure and the land returned to Singapore.
The prata stall and the wanton mee stall appear to have the longest queues. Three of us walked around, looking for a seat in the crowded coffee shop and sneaking a few shots in between.
I queued for the wanton mee stall while the other 2 took turns shooting and waiting since I am buying for them. The queue snakes around the chai tow kway (fried carrot cake) stall, where the owner is busy making plates of the chai tow kway.
Meanwhile, behind the wanton mee stall, 2 women chit chats and reminisces the old times with an old customer while they make the wantons (dumplings) to go with the noodles.
On the stall, I caught sight of this old school “tear a page a day” type of calendar. The stall owner must have been too busy to tear off the old pages.
According to Boon Hwee, the stall is at least 50 years old, and a friend who was integrated into the family helped with the food preparations. After what seemed like eternity, it’s finally my turn to place my order for 3 plates of the noodles.
After finishing the noodles, we decided to have a go at the prata too. Like typical Singaporeans, we believe that “if the queue is long, it must be good.” 🙂
Breakfast settled, we walked around the coffeeshop, taking more photos for posterity.
With air-conditioned food courts becoming popular now, old coffee shops and hawker centres like this one are fast fading into oblivion. Before long, they’ll be entirely gone. I hope at least some of these will be preserved, but that’s probably a long shot given our rapid pace of redevelopment.
For more photos of the Hin Hollywood Canteen and surrounding area, do check out my Flickr set.