Tian Kee & Co. – one of Singapore’s oldest provision shops came back to life as a cafe. With some iconic elements from the past, this cafe brings out a cozy and nostalgic charm.
The cafe, located at 12 Dakota Crescent, is at a first level of those old shophouses. Standing on its own, with a large field at the back.
The original Tian Kee & Co. provision shop signboard. All those decades of patina.
A somewhat standard cafe counter, but filled with bric-à-brac new and old.
Jar filled with Haw flakes, Gula-Gula Limau and that chocolate wafers that’s wrapped in red foil. Childhood candies!
Kawaii Roll ($3). A sweet and fluffy swiss roll with tiny chunks of mango and peach in the middle.
The special drinks here would be Pink Lady (Steamed Milk with Rose Syrup) and Snag (Espresso with milk, and rose syrup). Bandung-infused drinks, in this old-timey place.
We went for the Iced Snag ($6.50), Iced Pink Lady ($6) and shared one Kawaii Roll. The kids at the table next to us had prata!
You might have noticed the faux-marble texture of the tabletop. There are a couple of those foldable tables which some of us might be quite familiar with.
The signature Iced Snag is a layered beverage that should be sipped to allow the separate layers (of espresso, milk and rose syrup) to gradually mix. Don’t start stirring right away, you’ll end up with an Iced Bandung Latte. Anyway, this is just marvellous to drink during a hot day.
Oh my. The Bonjour Bread stand.
The back of the cafe overlooks a rather quiet field. Anyway, this venue is not air-conditioned but because of that whole open, airy concept – it’s well ventilated and comfortable.
At the counter, there are those typical poster blocks that you see at some cafes.
But the wall behind the counter is charming. That old milo can (made into a bucket, probably to store money). That big biscuit tin with a window. And those counterfeit cartoon character things.
A little kiddy ride outside the cafe – which still works, by the way.
Being in the Dakota Crescent, you never know who you’ll meet at the cafe!
Tian Kee & Co. is what I’d call a cozy place that reminds us of some bits of the old Singapore. Provision shops from the past, usually owned and operated by an uncle or aunty (or their family), are slowly vanishing – replaced by minimarts and branches of supermarkets.
At least for some “revived and reinvented” venues, some elements are revisited with a fresh look and new visitors. The heritage-hipster quotient here feels most authentic so far, but maybe because I used to live in another area nearby (MacPherson) that held the same spirit.
Getting to Tian Kee is surprisingly easy. It sits in between two MRT stations (circle line), but a bit closer to Mountbatten:
Mountbatten MRT Station (CC7) – 3 mins walk from Exit B
Dakota MRT Station (CC8) – 5 mins walk from Exit A
Tian Kee & Co
12 Dakota Crescent, #01-48
Closed on Mondays. Open other weekdays from 12:00pm. Weekends from 10:00am.
For more information refer to their Facebook page.