Beloved Old Lai Huat Seafood Restaurant Shuts Its Doors After Six Decades of Culinary Excellence
Nestled on Rangoon Road, Old Lai Huat Seafood Restaurant, though small and intimate, has been a quintessential dining destination in Singapore.
Renowned for its exquisite Zhi Char dishes, it’s often referred to as a “hidden gem.”
Since 1963, the closely guarded Old Lai Huat secret recipe has delighted generations of loyal patrons.
The restaurant gained fame for its sambal (balachan) fish and the quintessential Singaporean delicacy – chilli crab.
This was also a restaurant often patronised by celebrities.
However, with the retirement of the restaurant’s owners and no one to carry the legacy forward, we bid adieu to the cherished flavours of Old Lai Huat.
Yes, the restaurant has now permanently closed its doors, marking the end of a remarkable 60-year legacy.
A Culinary Journey of 60 Years
The restaurant’s journey began with Mr Lim Poh Huat’s grandfather, who started by selling Teochew Porridge.
In 1963, Mr Lim’s father decided to embark on a new culinary venture at Ophir Road, Lavender Street, focusing on seafood zhi char (affordable Chinese home-style dishes).
By then, Mr Lim was already the head chef, with over 30 years of culinary experience under his belt, honing his skills alongside his father.
Dedicated to preserving the rich tradition and unique flavours of Old Lai Huat, he laboured tirelessly, personally overseeing every aspect of the culinary process.
Mr Lim Poh Huat represents the third generation of Old Lai Huat Seafood Restaurant’s owners.
In 2001, he assumed the reins of the business, relocating it to 223 Rangoon Road in Farrer Park, alongside his wife, to helm the restaurant’s management.
Under Mr Lim’s stewardship, the restaurant garnered widespread acclaim and a devoted following.
In 2017, it earned the prestigious five-star rating from Singapore Best Foods and the coveted Heritage Hero title from Slow Food Singapore.
Yet, as the years rolled on, so did the toll on their stamina.
Now, at 53, Mr Lim concurred with his wife’s suggestion to retire, prioritising their health and well-being.
Speaking to Shin Min Daily News, he expressed a desire to cherish moments with his wife, who had stood by his side through thick and thin, throughout their years of toil.
Sons with Their Own Aspirations
While Mr Lim hoped to pass the business on to his two sons, they had aspirations of their own, having matured into their own dreams.
Mr Lim made diligent efforts to find a trustworthy individual to lease the business, intending to provide loyal customers with ample notice of the impending closure.
Nonetheless, many patrons only learned of the closure on Sunday, 26 Nov, which marked the restaurant’s final day of operation.
In a heartfelt Facebook post on 17 Nov, Old Lai Huat Seafood Restaurant expressed gratitude to its patrons for their unwavering support over the years.
While Old Lai Huat Seafood Restaurant may not have secured a succession plan like Kelly Jie Seafood Restaurant, its legacy as one of Singapore’s most iconic Zhi Char establishments will forever reside in the hearts of Singaporeans.
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