[ Food Week — Heritage Restaurants ] Singapore’s vibrant F&B scene cannot exist without the multiplicity of establishments that cater a variety of gastronomical experiences. Be it sinful local delights, elegant fine dining, or reliable international chains — these seemingly disparate segments form a cohesive, spirited whole that we have grown to love, but also take for granted.

As we extol the zeal and vigour of SG’s F&B, one group continues to be overshadowed by the accessibility of hawkers and the convenience of large chains: Heritage restaurants. (I’m guilty of this too — until the recent couple of years, I don’t think I’ve ever set foot in any of these.)

Mostly born during a period of entrepreneurial exuberance and during the cusp of burgeoning globalisation, these heritage restaurants are often a product of coupling the history of one’s rich cultural roots with SG’s unique brand of multiculturalism. The result is flavours that are reminiscent of an era long past, yet still familiar enough to evoke a sense of home, especially for those whose own history and heritage intersects these restaurants’.

And for many of us, these places stand as one of the last remaining pillars between a history we either have never known or aren’t privy to, and the sterile homogeneity of modernity.

It is this inimitable position of heritage restaurants that make them so valuable — they are living keystones of our history, and it’d be a shame to forsake them in favour of shiny new concepts that pander to aesthetics.

For those looking for their first foray into heritage restaurant, Beng Hiang (est 1978) is a friendly option for folks who enjoy old-school Hokkien dishes served with the boisterous flourish of 70-80s HK restaurants.

I’ve written about their dishes in detail prior, so here is a quick summary of what your first visit can look like:
Crispy Roasted Chicken ($20 for half/$38 for whole) — go away KFC, this is a must-get! No seriously, this puts everyone else to shame ok.
Traditional Hokkien Noodles ($10/$14/$18) — their signature; filled with goodies!
Oyster Omelette ($15/$28) — plump and juicy, yum!

For comparison, a meal like that will be a good 30-40% cheaper than at major chains. And you get larger portions too!