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Vin­tage home-in­spired restau­rant.

Stand­ing out against the ur­ban cityscape along Pe­nang Road is the iconic House of Tan Yeok Nee. With its dis­tinc­tive Chi­nese-style ar­chi­tec­ture built in 1882, it was orig­i­nally the home of promi­nent Teochew Chi­nese busi­ness­man Tan Yeok Nee and his fam­ily. Now, it houses Ming Yi Guan, the Bei­jing Hos­pi­tal of Tra­di­tional Chi­nese Medicine’s first treat­ment fa­cil­ity out­side China, and in South-east Asia.

Be­ing the only court­yard house left in Sin­ga­pore (there were ini­tially three), the Chi­nese man­sion was gazetted as a na­tional mon­u­ment in 1974.

“We had to be very care­ful about what we did (when re­fur­bish­ing it). Even when clean­ing, we use only a soft cloth and wa­ter,” says Tan Boon Pheng, the head of de­sign man­age­ment at Peren­nial Real Es­tate Hold­ings Lim­ited, the com­pany in part­ner­ship with Bei­jing Hos­pi­tal of Tra­di­tional Chi­nese Medicine that’s be­hind the tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine (TCM) cen­tre.

The man­sion’s large court­yard, sep­a­rat­ing the entrance foyer from the main hall, is just one of the sen­sa­tional ar­chi­tec­tural and de­sign fea­tures. In the main hall, look up to find or­nate carv­ings on the beams and rafters de­pict­ing scenery and mo­tifs such as pump­kins (an aus­pi­cious sym­bol in Teochew cul­ture). On the out­side, along the ridges of the roofs, frag­ments of colour­ful tiles were used to make the at­trac­tive dec­o­ra­tions and sculp­tures of aus­pi­cious crea­tures such as phoenixes, and flow­ers — a rare craft tech­nique. The walls near the roof on the sec­ond storey are dec­o­rated with cal­lig­ra­phy and mu­rals, too. It was dur­ing a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion in 2000 that crafts­men from China were spe­cially brought in to re­store the dam­aged de­tails, says Boon Pheng.

Now, in all its glory, the con­served 21,500sqf two-storey prop­erty goes back to its Chi­nese roots with TCM. The cen­tre’s fea­tures in­clude an “herbal­ist counter” (TCM phar­macy) with a built-in medicine cab­i­net that back­drops the main hall, a pavil­ion with a view of the eco­pond, an event hall, au­di­to­rium, as well as 17 con­sul­ta­tion and treat­ment rooms.

Ming Yi Guan even has an in-house brew­ing fa­cil­ity where medicine is pre-packed through an au­to­mated process for hy­giene.

To com­plete the look, fur­nish­ings in the Ming dy­nasty style were pro­cured from lo­cal stores. Drop by to take in the vis­ual splen­dour of its ar­chi­tec­tural de­tails, while mak­ing sure your body is in the pink of health.

Aptly named Ju­bilee Cof­fee­house & Bar, this vin­tage 1960s’ home-in­spired restau­rant was es­tab­lished in 2015 when Sin­ga­pore cel­e­brated its golden ju­bilee. Helmed by vet­eran restau­ra­teur and founder Lee Choon Khim – who con­cur­rently runs F&B es­tab­lish­ments such as The Coastal Set­tle­ment, Sym­me­try, Unplugged, Xiao Ya Tou, and more – the de­sign and decor pay trib­ute to the old world charm found in homes dur­ing the olden days.

Once a chalet and res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment, the al­most de­funct dou­ble-storey space was turned into an en­clave, which older gen­er­a­tions can re­late and rem­i­nisce in, while younger cus­tomers get a glimpse at what some Sin­ga­pore homes used to look like.

“Grow­ing up, Changi was a place I would fre­quent. Ju­bilee is rel­e­vant be­cause it is within a his­tor­i­cal lo­ca­tion, and while I still have mem­o­ries of the old days, I want to recre­ate them for old time’s sake,” says the 52-year-old.

He shares that many cus­tomers en­ter the restau­rant with the mis­con­cep­tion that the space is well pre­served when, in fact, it was built from scratch to em­u­late an old-fash­ioned style.

Through­out the two floors, fur­ni­ture and fur­nish­ings – such as pho­to­graphs of olden-day Sin­ga­pore, dated paint­ings, rat­tan chairs, Art Deco lamps, vin­tage ap­pli­ances in­clud­ing a vinyl record player and fan – dec­o­rate the space. Many of the pieces were sal­vaged and bought from The Sal­va­tion Army. “I’m ba­si­cally like a karung­guni (rag-and-bone man). The first piece of fur­ni­ture I col­lected was a cup­board, which I moved from my

kam­pung to an HDB flat in 1979,” he says. Much of Ju­bilee’s de­sign was fab­ri­cated to in­clude tra­di­tional pat­terned ven­ti­la­tion blocks, pat­terned tiles, retro win­dow grilles and par­ti­tions, and ter­razzo floor­ing sourced from Viet­nam. Even the ceiling boards are “stained” to cre­ate a weath­ered look, and blend per­fectly with the am­bi­ence of the in­te­ri­ors.

As you dine, mu­sic from the pre-1990s era plays in the back­ground. The menu caters to all ages, of­fer­ing a spread of lo­cal fare with the likes of

mee­goreng and chen­dol, and more “hip­ster” op­tions, such as truf­fle fries, to ap­peal to the younger crowd. “This is a place where all gen­er­a­tions – from grand­par­ents to grand­chil­dren – can spend time, and still have con­ver­sa­tions,” Choon Khim em­pha­sises.

RIGHT Past the court­yard, the main hall of Ming Yi Guan – with its 7.5m ceiling – fea­tures an herbal­ist counter with a built-in medicine cab­i­net. The space is dec­o­rated with Ming dy­nasty-style fur­ni­ture pieces.

Con­nected to the house, the pavil­ion that’s sur­rounded by the eco-pond is a chic space for guests to re­lax in. MING YI GUAN IS AT THE HOUSE OF TAN YEOK NEE, 101 PE­NANG ROAD, TEL: 6351- 9640. RIGHT

The House of Tan Yeok Nee has a sym­met­ri­cal lay­out plan, a clas­sic and dis­tinc­tive Chi­nese ar­chi­tec­tural fea­ture. BE­LOW

TOP The vin­tage-style win­dow grilles and wooden frames were fab­ri­cated in Viet­nam. ABOVE, LEFT The entrance de­sign was in­spired by old bar­ber shops in Sin­ga­pore, with dis­play cab­i­nets out­side. ABOVE, RIGHT The sec­ond floor houses pop­u­lar 1960s’ art...


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