Homemade kaya and buns, old-school sweet treats, mosaic tile flooring, marble Kopitiam tables… what’s not to love at Chin Mee Chin Confectionery?
Despite all the cafe breakfasts of Eggs Benedict and English breakfasts we have around the island, nothing can hold a candle to the classic, dependable local breakfast of Kaya toast and eggs. Though available in most coffee shops around the island, there’s one that we are especially fond of in Katong: the iconic Chin Mee Chin Confectionery.
We don’t take the word icon lightly…
While this respected East Side establishment has been around in the neighbourhood serving hot kaya buns since 1950s, it’s been in the bread delivery business since 1925. Because it was located by the Church of the Holy Family (it’s still there), it was the Eurasian community that used to patronise the shop, especially on Sundays. These days, you’ll find a mix of yuppies, tourists, local uncles and hipsters as their clientele.
The most interesting thing about this corner joint in Katong is that absolutely nothing in the shop has changed. Yup, not the mosaic flooring tiles, not the chairs, not the tables, not even the steel cabinets for the muffins and cream puffs.
Because it’s been around for so long, chances are your parents and their parents have frequented this joint. My own grandparents used to bring me here on weekends as a kid, and to replenish our kaya supplies (they sell tubs of the stuff!) and told me stories about when they went out for their kaya toast fix in their younger days. Kaya, a kind of custard jam made from coconut milk, egg yolk and sugar and flavoured with pandan is made in-house over slow-burning charcoal. Also, up till today, the confectionery continues to bake its own bread.
Later on as a rebellious teen, I’d take my high school dates to this quaint old-age coffeeshop where I ended up disappointed with their music tastes or their favourite movie, like A Walk To Remember. How basic. Still it’s surreal to see that regardless of how many phases you’ve dabbled with in your developmental years, the only constant is Chin Mee Chin Confectionery.
How to order like a pro
Self-service is a virtue the folks at Chin Mee Chin value highly. Don’t be deceived by the aunties walking around and checking up on you, the best way to get what you want, and fast is if you march up to counter, order and pay. Then it’s all chill from there. Heads up, order with an open mind because chances are your drink order will be wrong. Just breathe and forgive… unless you’re lactose intolerant or something.
Must-tries from this place include the signature Singapore breakfast: kaya buns with soft-boiled eggs and a cup of kopi. It might be pricier than your usual local breakfast franchises but the buns are huge, with a generous amount of kaya and butter. We’re talking oozing out of the bun sort of generous. The kopi is strong and bitter, complimenting the sugar hit from the kaya buns.
Also being a confectionery, Chin Mee Chin also stocks up on some sweet treats like custard puffs, tarts, old-school muffins and if you’re lucky, cream horns. Don’t expect Le Cordon Bleu standard of pastry though – this ain’t gourmet, it’s just Katong.
While honestly I feel that the standard has dropped over the years, Chin Mee Chin has built itself such a reputation that it will continue to be a gem in Singapore’s breakfast scene. It still warrants queues on weekends, people still return though the auntie has mixed up orders several times, and most of all, you think about returning here all the time to soak up the old-school Singapore vibes.
Chin Mee Chin Confectionery, 204 E Coast Rd, Singapore 428903
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