10 old-school traditional bakeries in Singapore you shouldn’t skip

They may not be Instagram-worthy, but these have substance over style.

8 August 2021 / Joanne H. / Singapore

Photo: Mickey_Liaw

In this world of Instagramable everything, it’s no surprise that modern bakeries in Singapore have taken off with their rainbow coloured cupcakes and decadent desserts.

But it’s all style over substance. The real deal is at the traditional bakeries in Singapore, places that provide a taste of times gone by. These nostalgia-inducing pastries may not always look the part, but taste it.

Here’s our roundup of 10 of the best traditional bakeries in Singapore.

Tong Heng

285 South Bridge Road

+65 6223 3649

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Since the 1920s, Tong Heng, one of the most traditional bakeries in Singapore, has been whipping up old-school Chinese pastries. Today, it is run by a fourth-generation owner and the brand continues to be a household name among Singaporeans. For four generations, the company's distinctive recipes have remained unchanged. People don’t bake this long without doing something right.

Tong Heng continues to make their pastries by hand, keeping the old-school baking and cooking methods. The 100-year-old bakery is best known for its dairy-free, diamond shaped egg tarts that their customers swear by. If egg tarts aren’t your thing, Tong Heng also sells hand-made walnut cookies, barbecue pork crisps and red bean pastries. For the health junkies out there, you’d be glad to know that all of Tong Heng’s products are made with less sugar. Pastries that are healthy and delicious? It really doesn’t get any better than that.

Dona Manis Cake Shop

865 Mountbatten Road

+65 6440 7688

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For hand-made pastries and cakes freshly baked on the premises, visit Dona Manis Cake Shop. This traditional bakery in Singapore occupies a small basement spot of an old shopping mall in Katong. If you have trouble locating the stall, use your sense of smell to sniff out a buttery sweet scent in the air.

With its unpretentious shopfront and lack of display counters you’ll likely walk past it if you’re not paying attention. Yet, Dona Manis Cake Shop has garnered a league of loyal customers who don’t hesitate to queue for hours for a taste of their confectionaries.

Everything is good here - rum balls, scones, cream horns, chocolate tarts, apple pies, biscuits, buns – but their signature banana pie is the thing of dreams and often dubbed the best banana pie in Singapore. Dona Manis’ ordinary looking banana pie has a crispy crust that is good on its own and a filling of sliced bananas, coconut shavings, and almond pieces.

It’s worth noting that you can’t guarantee what will be on offer each day. It wholly depends on what the stall owners decide to bake for that and what the customers before you have bought. So to avoid disappointment, get there early.

Balmoral Bakery

105 Clementi Street 12

+65 6779 2064

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There are many traditional bakeries in Singapore, but how many can say that they opened the same year the country gained independence? Balmoral Bakery is a British-style bakery in Singapore that opened in 1965 by a family of Hainanese bakers. Balmoral offers classics like sponge cake with hand-piped buttercream roses, hot chicken and beef pies, rum balls, cream horns and custard puffs.

Balmoral Bakery is particularly loved for its swiss rolls and buttercream cake slices that are moist, light, and buttery. They come in flavours like blueberry, chocolate, coconut, coffee, kaya pandan, peanut, and peppermint. The generously-filled meat pies are also a hit with their customers too.

Sing Hon Loong Bakery

4 Whampoa Drive

+65 6256 0878

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This next old-school bakery in Singapore isn’t even known by some locals. With so many bread franchises popping up in Singapore over the past decade, few Singaporeans have heard of or still remember Sing Hon Loong Bakery—a 50-year-old bakery that freshly bakes loaves of white bread.

Like a memory foam pillow, Sing Hon Loong Bakery’s bread goes back to its original shape after you squish it. The soft and fluffy bread loaves taste so good on their own that customers queue up just to eat them plain. But if you do want some fillings, the bakery slathers on kaya and butter too.

The best part? This bakery is open 24/7, daily.

Ji Xiang Confectionary

Everton Park

#01-33 Block 1

+65 6223 1631

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For the uninitiated, ang ku kueh, or red tortoise cake, is a small round or oval-shaped Chinese pastry with soft, sticky glutinous rice flour skin wrapped around a sweet filling in the centre. Shaped like a tortoise shell, the cake is presented on a piece of banana leaf. Ask any local where to get the best ang ku kueh in Singapore and they’d point you to Everton Park and Ji Xiang Confectionary.

Specializing in traditional hand-made ang ku kueh, Ji Xiang Confectionary has been in the business since the 1980s. Other than the typical ang ku kueh flavours, you can find assorted fillings like corn, coconut and salted bean. If you are feeling adventurous, go for the exotic flavours, durian-flavoured ang ku kueh is best.

At just a buck a piece, the soft, generously filled, handmade ang ku kuehs are a steal. This old-school stall sports snaking queues daily and is without a doubt one of the best traditional bakeries in Singapore.

Lana Cakes

36 Greenwood Avenue

+65 6466 5315

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If Instagrammable cakes is the name of the game, you are going to want to skip this next one. But trust us when we say that you’ll be missing out. Lana Cakes has been around since 1964 and serve up moist and fluffy cakes that may not look like much but are well-loved by generations of loyal customers.

The cake shop started out with just three flavours: orange chiffon, blueberry, and chocolate fudge. Today, the range of cakes have expanded to include 12 flavours with pineapple, mocha, date, coconut and carrot.

Yet, Lana Cake’s chocolate fudge cake remains the firm favourite. Two layers of moist chocolate sponge are coated with rich, velvety chocolate fudge. It’s also skips the oily taste that is so common in many fudge cakes at other bakeries in Singapore.

Other than the chocolate, Lana Cake’s mocha cream chiffon, walnut torte, blueberry and lemon chiffon, or coconut chiffon with gula melaka are worth a shot.

Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry

Blk 55 Tiong Bahru Road

+65 6324 1686

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This popular bakery in Tiong Bahru has been using the same great recipes to make their cakes since the 1970s. Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry sells old-school bakes like nyonya kuehs and other local traditional cakes and cookies.

Popular selections include ondeh ondeh (rice balls with a gula melaka core), kueh dar dar (coconut rolls), and putu ayu (steamed coconut cupcakes). On top of that, you’ll find their classic pandan cake, assorted chiffon cakes, tarts, cookies and pastries.

Unlike other bakeries in Singapore, Tiong Bahru Galicier makes tweaks to classic recipes. For example, sweet potato is used instead of traditional pandan extract in its ondeh ondeh. This traditional bakery in Singapore is well worth the effort to visit.

Sze Thye Cake Shop

2 Beach Road

+65 9658 1286

Located along Beach Road, Sze Thye Cake Shop is a 57-year-old bakery that offers some of the best baked goods in Singapore. The traditional baker is famous for its delicious peanut brittle.

Before you even step into the cake shop, you would notice the aroma of freshly baked goodies lingering in the air. Apart from peanut brittle, Sze Thye Cake Shop also sells sesame candy, green bean cakes, as well as popular Chinese biscuits like beh teh sor and tau sar piah. All of the baked goods offered by this cake shop are made by hand and made fresh daily on the premises.

An elderly man runs the one-man business and has no one to pass the business to. It will most probably disappear when he can no longer take the long hours of baking - all the more reason to visit right now.

Ng Kim Lee Confectionary

4 Chun Tin Road

+65 6466 3515

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With a retro sign board, old floor tiles, antique cabinets, and sliding metal grilled doors, you’d think you stepped back in time at Ng Kim Lee, one of the oldest traditional bakeries in Singapore. Their price tags - some less than a dollar a piece - also make you wonder if you’re living in the 21st century.

For more than six decades, Ng Kim Lee Confectionary has been serving up Teochew-style pastries and Western cakes like zebra cake, a three-coloured cake with vanilla, pandan and chocolate flavours, cheesecake and traditional pastries.

But it’s the ever-popular and adorable mini muffins with flavours like banana, chocolate and lemon that draw in the crowds. Try the crowd-pleasing pandan mini muffin that’s fragrant, moist and not overly sweet. But at 50 cents a piece, go nuts and order them all.

Love Confectionary

122 Bukit Merah Lane 1

+65 6278 2385

If you love confectionary, you’re going to love Love Confectionary. This traditional bakery in Singapore specialises in cream cakes with flavours like chocolate rice, almond flakes and rainbow sprinkles.

The peanut cake is the best here. With a layer of ground peanuts at the top of the cake and smooth cream at the centre, the peanut cake has a delightful crunch and texture.

Love Confectionary is beloved by local residents who know it’s one of the best traditional bakeries in Singapore. It’s not just locals though. People come from much further afield for as taste of their cream cakes.

There's always room for dessert. But make sure you only make room for the best. When it comes to Singapore’s best bakes, traditional old school bakeries are the only places to be. In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to pass by these humble and unpretentious spots, places that can take you back to a simpler time.

The owners of these bakeries have dedicated their lives to cooking the same way generations before them have. So, once in a while, forget the Basque burnt cheesecake, cake in a cup, or raindrop cake and support one of these traditional bakeries in Singapore. Just don’t do it for the gram.

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