Tony Johor Kaki Travels for Food · Heritage · Culture · History

Food Explorer Storyteller with 63 million+ reads 📧

Jackson Plan. History Walk of Singapore Food & Architectural Heritage

Image credit: Wikipedia
In 1822, Lieutenant Philip Jackson drew up a Singapore town plan according to Stamford Raffles' instructions. The resulting Plan of the Town of Singapore is also known as the Jackson Plan or Raffles Town Plan.

It is amazing that taking a walk in Singapore today (2020) we can still see the unmistakeable imprint of the Jackson Plan, drawn up just 3 years after Raffles first stepped foot on Singapore in 1819.

Worst Riot in Singapore History. Five Catties of Rice Riot, 1854

Image credit: National Archives of Singapore
While researching the origins of Singapore food, I stumbled upon a little known or forgotten episode in Singapore history - the Hokkien-Teochew riots of 1854. It was the deadliest riot in Singapore history with over 500 people killed in 10 days of fighting.

What Raffles Saw on the Day he Landed at Singapore River in 1819

Image credit: The Bute Archive at Mount Stuart
This was the Singapore which Raffles saw when he landed at the mouth of Singapore River on 28 Jan 1819. We take a walk with him using the Bute Map*, the earliest map of Singapore River (published in 1820, a year after Raffles landed here).

*The Bute Map now in The Bute Archives at Mount Stuart in Scotland is attributed to Lieutenant Henry Ralfe of the Bengal Artillery, who was then the Assistant Engineer of Singapore.

8 Best Taipei Night Markets & 24 Must Try Michelin Bib Gourmand Food Stalls 😋

Shilin Night Market is the most famous of all Taipei night markets. It is a tourist destination but is also popular with locals. Shilin cannot be beaten for its sheer size and variety of food and goods for sale. There are some 3,000 stalls and shops here, both above and below ground level.

History of Singapore Hawker Culture • From Public Health Nuisance to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Award

Holland Drive Food Centre
It would be beyond the wildest dreams of the British Straits Settlements colonial officers who created the final solution to the public nuisance of street hawkers, that it would a century later be awarded the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity Inscription in 2020.

Born of the Belly of the Carp. History of Food @ Boat Quay Singapore

Image credit: Wikipedia
Boat Quay today is chock-a-bloc with fine restaurants offering cuisines from around the world. It has always been a dining hotspot in Singapore. Here's a bit about its history to add to your food, giving it another layer of flavour which might make it even more delicious for you 😄

Roots of Singapore Hawker Food from The Empire Strikes Back to Independence 1945 - 1965

Singapore from the return of the British in 1945 to independence in 1965 was the most "interesting times" to cite an ancient Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times". But, it was also a time of great creativity in Singapore's food scene with many of today's iconic dishes created during these 20 years.

Let's look at how chili crab, curry fish head, roti John, and more Singapore dishes came about.

History of Nanyang Tea Culture in Singapore

Pek Sin Choon Tea Merchants
You know, it is one of those things about Singapore life. I eat bak kut teh, eat dim sum, drink tea - Tie Guanyin, or whatever lah... that my buddies picked. Didn't think too much about it. Until, I went to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and hey... how come I don't get the same taste in my Tie Guanyin, or whatever lah tea... ?

What Peking Duck Tells Us about the History of China & Where to Eat it in Beijing

Image credit: Wikipedia
It is often said that the three must do things in Beijing are climb the Great Wall, visit the Forbidden City, and eat Peking duck 🦆 Most people would be satisfied once they've done the Great Wall and Forbidden City but they can never have enough of Peking duck 😄

What makes Peking duck 北京烤鸭, the national dish of China, so special?

Origins of Singapore Food Culture from Golden Age of British Empire to Syonan-to of Japan

Image credit: Wikipedia
The period from 1819 to 1942 saw Singapore rise from a fishing village and pirates' nest to the bastion of the British empire and then fell to a Japanese occupied territory. This 123 year period witnessed the largest immigration waves to Singapore and with it many different cuisines found their way onto our plates and palates.

What Does the "Teh" in Bak Kut Teh Mean?

History of Bak Kut Teh
Most of us assume that the teh 茶 in bak kut teh refers to the custom of drinking tea during a bak kut teh 肉骨 meal. Some of us may be surprised that this popular assumption is challenged by two other theories.

Historical Roots of Singapore Food from Sang Nila Utama to Raffles - Year 1299 to 1819

Photo credit: Wikipedia
In the last episode, "Singapore Food in 1000 AD", we ended with Sang Nila Utama's arrival in Temasek in 1299. In this episode, we carry on from where we left off in 1299 and travel through time to 1819, the year Raffles first stepped foot on Singapore. Let's go, we have more than 500 years of food history to digest. 

Singapore Food in 1000 AD ● 300 Years before Sang Nila Utama ● 800 Years before Raffles

Image credit: Wikipedia
This is my personal exploration trip, searching for our food heritage starting from 1000 AD. I deliberately chose a very early starting point to get to the bottom-most layer (i.e. as much of a clean slate as possible) of our flavours and aromas. From there, build it up through layers upon layers of time till we arrive at the dishes we enjoy today. Join me on this delicious journey through time. This is only the first step of our journey - the beginning of the beginning.

Kopitiam Culture is Not Only Kopi & Kaya Toast. History of Singapore Coffee Shops

Thean Chun kopitiam in Ipoh, Malaysia
Kopitiam culture is deeply ingrained in the lifestyle of people in Singapore and Malaysia (as well as parts of Indonesia and Thailand).

When I am overseas for any extended period, going out for a morning caffeine fix, I can see Starbucks everywhere but my heart literally aches for kopi O gao - that pitch black bitter brew of Singapore and Malaysia. Those of you from Singapore and Malaysia will know the feeling.

History of Singapore Tu Tu Kueh 嘟嘟糕

Kueh Tu Tu 嘟嘟糕 is a unique little pillowy soft steamed rice cake filled with gently crunchy crushed toasted peanut or moist grated coconut flesh sweetened with palm sugar. The sweet street snack was invented here and found only in Singapore.

History of Fried Yam Basket by Chef Hooi Kok Wai

You will find this popular fried yam (taro) ring or yam basket dish in almost all Chinese restaurants in Singapore and Malaysia. It is a relatively recent creation and we can hear its story directly from its creator chef Hooi Kok Wai, founder of Dragon Phoenix Restaurant in Singapore.

History of Char Kway Teow in Singapore

For the history of fried kway teow 炒粿條 in Singapore, we have to start from Chaoshan char kway teow 潮汕炒贵刁 far away in Guangzhou, China of today.

History & Origin of Indian Rojak in Singapore

Image credit: National Archives of Singapore
I like this 1980s photograph of Indian rojak in Singapore - unembellished, no "food styling" so we know what the dish really was. There's spiced cuttlefish, fried battered egg, fried tofu, different types of fried fritters, cucumber slices and a reddish dipping sauce in three small bowls.

What Singapore Hawker Food Culture Tell Us about the History of the Lion City

Every dish tells a story. Here's what 10 hawker dishes tell us about the history of Singapore. Let's eat and celebrate the Singapore story 😋 (Image credit: Wikipedia.)

History of Peranakan Nyonya Food ● Legacy of The 500 of Malacca


The main outposts of Nyonya food and Peranakan culture are in Malacca, Penang and Singapore. The DNA of most Peranakan cuisine (or Nyonya food) are believed to be from Peranakans who descended from the Chinese community which settled in Malacca in the 1400s. 

(There are also Peranakan communities in Indonesia and southern Thailand.)