Built at a cost of $160,000, the Tanglin Halt Neighbourhood Centre was opened in 1962 by then Assemblyman for Queenstown, Dr Lee Siew Chor. The neighbourhood centre comprised of 26 shop units arranged around a quadrangle and 84 stalls in the wet market. A shopping centre which composed of a hawker centre and three rows of shop houses was added later in 1967.
The neighbourhood centre houses several pioneer businesses.
The sundry shop at Tanglin Halt, “Thin Huat,” has a long history which dates back to the 1920s. Ang Kah Hee’s grandfather had owned a provision shop at Boh Beh Kang, the village which preceded Queenstown. Sundry shops or ‘chap hui diam’ in Hokkien literary means shops selling a mixture of goods. Alongside with his brother, Ang Kah Tiong (b. 1948), Kah Hee has kept traditions alive by selling a wide assortment of goods ranging from spices to canned food to cater to the needs of their customers.
Kian Seng is another provision shop in the Neighbourhood Centre which sells groceries and religious paraphernalia. Lim Ang Ah (b. 1940), the white-haired lady proprietor, recalled that her shop offered personalised services such as free delivery and shopping on credit in the 1970s. She said: “Shopping on credit was fashionable then. Families would pick their groceries up from us and pay at the end of the month. My husband would record them down on a note book.”
Poh Onn Tong
Poh Onn Tong is an established traditional Chinese medicine shop operated by the Chongs who moved to Singapore from Johor in 1964. An iconic feature of the shop must be the wooden cabinet which stores herbs. Each rectangular drawer holds nine tins of herbs, with the names of the herbs carved on the lid.
Tanglin Halt Delicious Duck Noodle
For the past 45 years, Chua Ngen Leng, 64, and his wife, Ngern Kah Cheng, 64, would arrive at his hawker stall in Tanglin Halt Wet Market at 2am every morning to prepare the ingredients and spices for braising duck. Thereafter, Chua would immerse the uncooked duck into a metallic container containing herbs and duck bones to be simmered for three hours. The Chuas started out as itinerant hawkers peddling along North Bridge Road selling delicious braised duck noodles to coolies working at warehouses along Singapore River. They relocated to the Wet Market in 1969.
Tanglin Halt Original Peanut Pancake
Teng Kiong Seng’s traditional peanut pancake (Chinese:面煎糕; Hokkien: Min Jiang Kueh) is crispy on the outside and awesomely chewy inside. Doused with roasted, finely ground peanuts, sugar is added to give the pancake a perfect mixture of sweet and savoury. For the past 45 years, Tanglin Halt Original Peanut Pancake has been serving Tanglin Halt with tasty pancakes which are fresh from the wok. Look out for other flavours from the stall!