Old School Delights – Take a Trip Down Memory Lane & Have a Taste of Nostalgia
Singapore is home to many establishments which were born out of passion. In my recent article on Cookery Magic, I shared about Ruqxana’s journey – how she pursued her passion and chased her dreams. I called for submissions on a local eatery that has an inspiring backstory, and one of our readers, Taurus, recommended Old School Delights (OSD).
Guess what, I have been a fan of Old School Delights for many years. This family-run eatery serves homey local dishes such as Laksa, Mee Siam and Nasi Lemak.
After holding gatherings at their homes for so many years, Olivia and her brother decided to take the leap of faith and open OSD in 2010 to share their family recipes.
“When I started Old School Delights, I wanted to bring nostalgia and comfort food to people. It’s basically a place where people can walk down memory lane,” said Olivia.
This humble eatery started plying their trade in Thomson, and has now expanded. You can now find Old School Delights at The Esplanade and City Square Mall. Olivia’s brother is now based in Australia but her husband, Choon Chye, left his job in IT management two years ago to help out in the business. “It was quite a big decision to jump out from working desk into the kitchen.”
At Old School Delights’ newest outlet in City Square Mall, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the days when you were still in school, when things were much simpler. There are many games of yesteryear such as five stones, kuti-kuti, marbles, etc.
“Whenever I see families coming together, instead of playing on the phone, they are playing five stones and Donkey or Old Maid cards, I feel very heartened. It’s a place where people can reminisce about the past and share their stories while enjoying our local food,” Olivia said with a smile.
I can’t agree more with her. Technology has taken over so much of our lives that it is easy to forget how fun traditional old school games are. While waiting for our food, we played five stones, pick up sticks and even tic-tac-toe.
Old School Delights’ Mee Siam is the dish that I always order whenever I am here. This is a traditional Malay dish but it has now become a key feature in Singapore menu.
At OSD, it is served with a spicy, sweet and sour light gravy. The gravy is made from a rempah spice paste, tamarind and taucheo (salted soy bean). The mee siam is garnished with beancurd, beancurd puff and eggs. This is the kind of old school Mee Siam that brings back memories.
“Eating the Mee Siam transports me back to my childhood days when my mother will bring me to an eatery at Toa Payoh swimming pool for a plate of Mee Siam. The taste brings back all these memories,” Choon Chye reminisced.
Besides Mee Siam, Old School Delights also serves Nasi Lemak, Nasi Briyani, Mee Rebus, etc. These are the local dishes that everyone is familiar with. If it’s comfort food that you’re looking for, this is where you should go.
Before the opening of OSD, Olivia was working with people with disabilities and helping them to find jobs. After she started OSD, she wanted to still be able to give back to society by hiring people with disabilities. That’s what make them stand out from the sea of F&B eateries in Singapore.
However, running Old School Delights is not easy. “It has been a rollercoaster ride, to be honest. We have our ups and downs, but it has been rewarding and challenging as well,” Olivia shared.
“I enjoy what I am doing but there are moments when I questioned if this is sustainable and worth doing. But I guess what keeps me going is the fact that people come to me and say they really enjoy our food and the fact that we want to share our heritage food with people. That just keeps me persevering.”
The humble Nasi Lemak is another icon in Singapore’s heritage. It has a perfect mix of flavours: aromatic rice infused with coconut milk and pandan leaves, and served with ikan bilis, fried egg and sambal. It is a hearty meal that is adored by many races and the dish has gradually evolved to include a greater variety of accompaniments. At OSD, you get a fried chicken wing and otah as well.
With a never give up attitude, the couple continues to give their best in sharing our local food with an international audience.
“Our local food is so unique because it encompasses different cultures. I hope to bring Singapore food to different parts of the world, for example Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam. Using our Singapore food as a gateway as well as to build communities and create jobs for the locals there.”
Yes, work gets hard and life throws mean curve balls. But, a little extra motivation and inspiration can sometimes help you push through difficult times. I am glad that Olivia and her husband are moving forward with a sense of purpose. It’s truly #passionmadepossible. I wish them all the best.
This post is proudly brought to you by Singapore Tourism Board.