Hock Ann Coffeeshop

Hock Ann Coffeeshop, a.k.a. Hock Ann Eating House, was located at 125–127 East Coast Road. This eating house is synonymous with the famous tau kwa pau stall, Say Seng Tau Kwa Pau, which was co-occupying the coffee shop.1

Hock Ann Eating House, a quaint coffee shop at the junction of East Coast Road and Joo Chiat Road, initiated the famous Katong tau kwa pau. Tau kwa pau is a pocket of fried bean curd stuffed with a delicious mix of pork, fishballs, fried yam, eggs and cucumbers, all thinly sliced. The tau kwa pau stall at Hock Ann was founded by Khoo Buck Teck in the 1950s. Born in the early 1920s, Koo started off as an itinerant trader with a pushcart selling tau kwa pau to passers-by.2

In the early days, itinerant tau kwa pau hawkers roamed the streets with pushcarts. They would challenge those walking by to a game of dice which would attract other people to watch the game. The stake would range from a few cents to a dollar for the vendor, but if the customer won, he would win a tau kwa pau. Sometimes, depending on the bet placed, the customer could win even a whole duck. An enterprising man who captured the hearts of his customers with his unique-tasting tau kwa pau, Khoo presumably did well enough in his business to establish his own stall at Hock Ann Eating House. The unique taste of Khoo’s tau kwa pau made the stall and Hock Ann a famous eatery in Katong.3

Khoo’s son, Khoo Lian Hwa, ran the stall after he retired in 1989. The tau kwa pau sold looks like a bulging burger. It has ingredients with a whole range of textures stuffed into it, and comes with a special duck sauce and dipping chilli sauce. The sauces taste different due to the presence of garlic and sugar with sliced green chillies floating on its surface. The stall sells approximately 600 pieces a day at an affordable price of 90 cents per piece. A customer can also order braised duck, wuxiangkway teow, duck rice, and pig’s tongue, heart and intestines. The shop is opened from 8.30 am to 5 pm daily, and closed on Mondays.4

The site on which Hock Ann Eating House sat went through multiple changes. When the eating house moved to 131 East Coast Road, Say Seng Tau Kwa Pau stall followed suit. Orange Katong Coffeeshop then took over 125 East Coast Road with its own tau kwa pau stall, called Mary’s Corner.5 Currently, a “hawker-bar” called Ali Baba Eating House occupies 125 East Coast Road.6 Say Seng Tau Kwa Pau is currently at Dunman Food Centre.7


Naidu Ratnala Thulaja

1. K. F. Seetoh, “Tofu Face-Off,” New Paper, 27 August 2006, 26; “First to Roti John Stall, Then to Botanic Gardens,” Straits Times, 23 August 1998, 10; Mah Kan Keng, “Bean Curd for a Snack or Complete Meal,” Straits Times, 18 September 1994, 19. (From NewspaperSG)
2. Mah, Snack or Complete Meal.” 
3. Mah, Snack or Complete Meal.” 
4. Mah, Snack or Complete Meal.” 
5. Seetoh, “Tofu Face-Off.” 
6. T. H. Tan, T. H. (2013, June 1). “New Faces in Old Paces,” Business Times, 1 June 2013. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website) 
7. 梁淑晶 Liang Shujing, “Dan rong jia dong huohong dang kou $1.50 Dou gan bao waiguo youke ye zan” 丹戎加东火红档口 $1.50豆干包 外国游客也赞 [Foreign tourists also sing praises of $1.50 tau kwa pau from famous stall in Tanjong Katong], Lianhe Wanbao 合万宝, 24 January 2016, 9. (Microfilm NL33741)

Further resource
Geylang Serai, Joo Chiat, Marine Parade & Stadium Cove,” The InnCrowd, accessed 29 September 2016.

The information in this article is valid as of 2016 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Coffee shops--Singapore
Commercial buildings