Why? What happened? These were the questions I asked myself after finding out that the iconic Ah Seah Teochew Porridge is set to close on 19 June 2022. I have been a loyal customer ever since my polytechnic days. My heart is heavy as I write this article as it hits a personal bone.
When Counterstrike and Dota All Stars (only gamers will know) were super popular at cyber cafes about 22 years ago, I was still hanging out with my friends at a particular cyber cafe called “Niner” that no longer exists at Highland Centre. Whenever we needed to curb our hunger, we would go across to a coffee shop in a mall that Ah Seah Teochew Porridge used to be located in. That mall has been demolished and is now called Space@Kovan.
I clearly remember that there would always be a loud spoken uncle, who would be taking orders from us. We would be spoilt for choice at the amount of dishes that were available. The standard dishes that we used to order were their braised pork belly, braised duck, minced pork with black beans that is spiced perfectly, “Chai Boey“— chopped up stewed mustard greens, stir fried tau kwa with leeks— the list goes on. A bowl of braised black sauce was a must to pair with the perfectly cooked porridge.
In recent times, I have been dining at their current 11-year-old Teck Chye Terrace location. Even though the location has changed, the food has still maintained the familiar taste of nostalgia that brings me back to my younger days.
As a half Teochew person myself, my late grandmother would regularly prepare heartwarming bowls of porridge for me that made me feel so warm. Ah Seah Teochew Porridge has successfully given me the same feels whenever I’m there. The ambience here may be rather plain in comparison to new and more hip eateries, but there’s just an indescribable sense of warmth and familiarity that is hard to find anywhere today in Singapore. It almost feels like coming home whenever I am here. We need more of such places but sadly, they are slowly disappearing.
From what we know, there is no given reason to why they’re closing their doors for good. They left a notice sincerely thanking all their supportive and loyal customers. Perhaps I’ll pay them a visit before 19 June, and ask them personally.
I doubt I’ll find a similar Teochew porridge that’ll give me the same nostalgic feels. Ah Seah Teochew Porridge will definitely be missed, and I hope that they’ll make a comeback in the future!
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