Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dining at the Paramount

My family went to Paramount Hotel recently for dinner at the Tung Luk restaurant there. We'd not been there for some time but the a la carte buffet menu had certainly made an impact on us. My sister and I both had happy memories of the salmon sashimi and the ice cream puffs!

Paramount Hotel has been around for a number of years (maybe around 20+ years or so. Like other properties in the Katong area, such as Katong Mall, there was talk of an en bloc sale some two years ago when the property market was at its height. En bloc activity has since quietened down quite considerably, of course. But I thought I had better put this down on my blog in case I am overtaken by events (as I have been in the past).

Paramount Hotel benefits from its very convenient location, near the airport and also the city centre. It is surrounded by yummy food and Parkway Parade is just across the road. The building itself stands out on Marine Parade Road, especially at night. It is thus a little bit of a pity to see that the shopping centre is not vibrant, except for a few pubs.

Tung Luk, however, is busy and bustling. (And it has its separate entrance from the Marine Parade Road side of the hotel.) Good thing we made a reservation. The a la carte buffet was as yummy as we remembered. There's a choice of soups, meats, seafood etc. The prawns, Peking duck and Buddha Jumps over the Wall/Shark's Fin soups are rationed but everything else is unlimited. Of course the dish my family ordered more than one of (aside from the sashimi and ice cream puffs) was a simple veggie dish - beans and minced pork!
Aside from the food, I like the restaurant interior. Somehow, it has a certain colonial elegance, with its columns and plastered cornices, the European-style display cupboards along the sides. Maybe it is the influence of the colonial/peranakan shophouses on East Coast Road! And the combination of European interior and Chinese food brings to mind Shanghai's Bund area, where I'll be next week.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

URA to conserve 100 buildings in Joo Chiat/Katong area

Here's a more positive post to balance off the previous depressing post.

URA has decided to conserve about 100 more buildings in the Joo Chiat/Katong area, as announced in this news release.

Hopefully the preservation of more of this lovely part of Singapore will also increase awareness of the history and heritage of the area.

Peranakans – Going the way of the Dodo?

This article by Soh Tiang Keng sadly concludes that modernisation, urbanisation and social change will lead to the Peranakan culture dying out. Alas, this is probably true, at least in Singapore.

I personally think that the so-called "Mother Tongue" policy has also led to the demise of the Baba Malay patois. Not that my family has any particular affiliation for it, of course. Being Penang Babas/Nonyas, the common language was Penang Hokkien. Of course, ironically this may also die out in the longer term, to be replaced by... ...Malay.

Most Singaporeans however do not know the difference between Penang and Singaporean peranakans. My uncle recently had his 60th Birthday Party. It was a fairly big do, with a large group of about 10 tables or so. There was a programme for the evening complete with games, powerpoint slideshows and speeches. The theme for the evening was "Peranakan". So the tables were labelled "Ayam Buah Keluak" and "Bakwang Kepeting". The MCs for the evening even started off by saying a few stumbling words in Malay, in my uncle's honour. They might have had an easier time speaking in Hokkien!

Hopefully blogs like this will continue to keep interest in Peranakan culture and history alive - at least this is part of my motivation for persevering on with it.


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