Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thye Moh Chan Cake House - A Piece of Singapore History About to be Lost Forever With Video

Traditional chinese pastry shops are rare these days, and as time passes, they will get even less, which is a very sad reality.

Last week, I was proud to present Tong Heng here, and it is heartwarming to see that its present generation of owners continuing to preserve its legacy.

Today, however, I am blogging about a different view of another traditional bakery.

Thye Moh Chan has been in operation for 70 years, which in itself, is no simple feat. And till today, they continue to sell very traditional tau sa pia and peanut brittle.

Being very much a Teochew heritage, these sumptuous pastries will be sorely missed. Shops like these are being rapidly replaced by the likes of BreadTalk at every corner. Commercialism and marketing seems to be the victor against good old fashioned tradition and effort.

Black Sesame Cake

This very classic and hard to find black sesame cake was once called the poor man's mooncake. Now we think of mooncakes as baked beauties or delicate snowskin creations from hotel chefs.

This simple but tasty cake holds it own charm and seeing the folks making this by hand, one can really taste the great tradition behind this classic dessert.

Traditional Mooncakes

They also carry the much more familiar mooncakes you find in most of Singapore, and yet they also retain a certain rustic appeal about them. Again, seeing the people in the shop working this one by one by hand with a certain Swiss precision was certainly very eye-opening for me.

Baking the tau sa pia

Walking through the entire shop, and seeing the behind the scenes, gave me an atmosphere that I was back in pre-war time Singapore. Where everything was done manually, using traditional methods and ovens and beating out the pastries by hand.

65 year old owner, Koh Hong Chua

So, why is it that this post sounds so melancholic, almost somber like. Well, it is because the 65 year old owner, Koh Hong Chua, will retire after next week and will end the business for good.

Although he has been in this business for the longest time, and being the third generation in his family to carry on the legacy, the legacy will, sadly, have to end.

He has mentioned to me that his children are pursuing other career interests and hence, he wants to retire and enjoy the good life. Which is more than deserved, and judging by the number of loyal customers he has during my visit there, it will be very missed.

I hope whoever reads this will take the effort to go to this quaint little shop and check it out before it closes. This is a little piece of Singapore history that is about to be lost. Forever.

Thye Moh Chan Cake House
53 Geylang Lorong 27

Written, filmed, edited and directed by Silverchef Productions.
Shot and edited entirely on Apple's Iphone 4 in Geylang Lorong 27.
No black sesame cake was harmed in the shooting of this video.
"天山行" written by Goh SY and performed by Ian Low and Goh SY.


  1. Won't it be a waste for a tradition like this to be lost forever? Have the owner considered looking for someone to carry on the tradition even if it had to be an outsider who is not of the family tree but interested in merely preserving and just carrying on the tradition? Can the govt help? Include this into part of it's neverending conservation plan as it tries to retain and prevent total lost of our own traditional heritage and something this age old to the onslaught of modernization eh?

  2. When are they closing?

  3. They will close by this week or when their ingredients run out.

  4. I felt very touched after watching your video. It's really nicely done. Love how the music blends in with the aesthetics of the pastries, people and background. The music itself is hauntingly poignant but yet culturally rich and traditionally rooted. My mom and I just pass by in the hope of trying get some mooncakes and teochew pastries before the close down but the queue was simply too looooong..

  5. Thanks for your lovely comments, the music was composed by Mr Goh SY, who is also a national treasure himself.

    You can read more about my music stuff at

  6. Saw your TV clip on Utube. Its real cool! Hey, you and Mr Goh make a great team, indeed! :D

  7. I like the music "天山行". Where can I get the full track?

  8. thanks shawshank, you can go to my music blog at to hear it from there