Red House Bakery
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The Red House Bakery is a popular reference to a relict confectionery shop called Katong Bakery & Confectionery. This bakery was a popular breakfast haunt among Singaporeans living in the eastern part of Singapore, dishing out its signature cakes and curry puff. It was established in 1925 and located at 75 East Coast Road. It was closed on 23 March 2003 after the shophouse where it was occupying was deemed as unsafe.
The Red House Bakery was located in a shophouse that is a wakaf property, put in trust to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore by Sherrifa Zain Alsharoff Mohamed Alsogoff, the great granddaughter of Hajjah Fatimah who built the famous Hajjah Fatimah Mosque at Beach Road. A Jewish man named Jim Baker started the bakery shop. In 1931, a Hainanese seaman, Tan Siang Fuan paid S$600 as "coffee money" to take over the bakery shop from Jim Baker.
In 1957, the shophouse where the Red House Bakery was occupying was declared a wakaf asset together with five other adjacent shophouses along East Coast Road. It was specified that the rental income from the shophouses were to be used to fund Sherrifa Zain's grandchildren's education until 21 years after her death. Beyond that, the earnings were to be used to establish and maintain a free clinic, to be named the Al-Taha Dispensary.
The name Red House Bakery was derived from the façade of the two-storey shophouse that was painted in red. It was famous for its traditional cakes and pastries such as its hae bee hiam bun or spicy dried shrimp bun, creamy custard puffs and soft swiss rolls. It was also known as a favourite hangout for local bands during the 1960s. Customers who visited the bakery shop would choose and eat the amount of cakes or pastries that they desired and then proceeded to the cashier to make payment. The bakery shop practised a system of payment based on trust, as was the norm among old establishments. The bakery shop exuded old charm as the antique floral tiles and wooden furniture that greeted one upon entry would invoke a feeling of nostalgia.
Today, the shophouse where the bakery once stood and the adjacent shophouses along the stretch of East Coast Road are being restored. Mr Syed Omar Alsogoff, the grandson of Sherrifa Zain, have plans to convert these shophouses into private schools or office units if he succeeded in getting the approval from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. Otherwise, the plan is to provide grants to or collaborate with organisations for the provision of a free clinic.
Heirwin Mohd Nasir
Kong, L., & Chang, T.C. (2001). Joo Chiat: Living legacy (p. 81). Singapore: Joo Chiat Citizen's Consultative Committee.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 KON)
A bakery and a 'free clinic' wish. (2001, April 1). The Straits Times, p. 43.
Holmberg, J. (1993, August 9). Heart of Katong. The Straits Times, p. 16.
Red house closes its doors for good. (2003, March 23.). The Straits Times, p. 1.
Fong, M. L. (n.d.). Katong Confectionery & Bakery Co. Retrieved May 20, 2003, from sg.food.lycosasia.com/features/feature_redhouse1.asp
Ng, J. (n.d.). The Straits Times Interactive Picture Gallery: Bakery in a Red House. Retrieved May 20, 2003, from www.straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/mnt/html/webspecial/gallery/breadshop/breadshop1.html
Yeoh, B. S. A., & Kong, L. (Eds.). (1995). Portraits of places: History, community and identity in Singapore (p.121). Singapore: Times Editions.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 POR)
The information in this article is valid as at 2003 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
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