Tucked into a row of shops beside Chinatown Complex, Hai Seng Porcelain is a homeware shop that transports its customers back in time to olden Singapore. Their authentic, affordable porcelain rooster bowls and handmade enamelware are reminiscent of the times your ah ma lived in – the selection at Hai Seng evokes a deep sense of nostalgia in everyone who visits it.
While old-school homeware has disappeared off the shelves in most shops in favour of a more modern selection, Hai Seng continues to stock these old-school treasures. From porcelain products and enamelware to kopitiam coffee sets and claypots, here’s a breakdown of what you can find at Hai Seng Porcelain.
Rooster porcelain products
The porcelain rooster bowls at Hai Seng Porcelain are a blast to the past. The hand-painted roosters along the sides of these white bowls were a common sight in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when they were a tableware staple at noodle and chicken rice stalls. Nowadays, there remains only a handful of food stalls that continue to use these iconic porcelain rooster bowls.
Hai Seng is one of the only retailers of porcelain rooster bowls left. While the iconic black-tailed red rooster design originated from the Hakka community in China hundreds of years ago, Chinese manufacturers have actually ceased production of the rooster bowls. Instead, Hai Seng maintains the authenticity of their rooster bowls as much as possible by obtaining their stock from Thai Chinese communities in Thailand.
Aside from porcelain rooster bowls of varying sizes, you can also find porcelain rooster plates from $2.50, as well as traditional Chinese tea cups painted with the same iconic rooster design. Rooster porcelain products may be hard to come across elsewhere, but Hai Seng’s shelves are stocked with an abundance of these old-school finds.
You may also be familiar with Ji Xiang porcelain products, which bear a characteristic blue ring painted on their rims. Ji Xiang is another brand that manufactures porcelain products bearing the iconic red rooster design, and you can find an extensive range of their products at Hai Seng.
Don’t worry about exorbitant prices – Hai Seng is committed to keeping their products wallet-friendly. The blue-rimmed rooster bowls start from $3.80, while plates start from $4. You can also find traditional porcelain rooster teapots starting from $16 and matching Chinese tea cups for $2 each.
In addition to rooster porcelain products, Ji Xiang also has a separate collection of porcelain products that are painted using their signature shade of blue. This elegant collection comprises plates, bowls, cups and soup spoons, all bearing traditional Chinese designs that are reminiscent of old-school porcelain homeware.
Enamelware – tingkats, mugs and plates
Hai Seng’s enamelware collection is another thing to marvel at. The shelves in the store are stocked with rows of multicoloured enamelware, ranging from bold saturated hues to soft pastels.
If you’re looking for homeware that compliments a light and airy home interior, Hai Seng’s collection of pastel enamelware will be a treasure trove. The round-edged pastel tingkats start from $28, with 2-tiered, 3-tiered, and 4-tiered options in shades of yellow and green or white.
Hai Seng also has matching pastel enamel mugs, tea cups, bowls, and plates so that you can create your own colour coordinated set. Mugs cost $10 for smaller sizes and $12 for larger ones, while the tea cup sets include a pastel enamel saucer and cost $10 each.
Iconic rooster tingkat (left) and vibrant coloured mini tingkat (right).
Tingkat, also known as tiffin carriers, are one of the key highlights in the enamelware section. While these old-school food containers were widely used during your ah ma’s time, spotting someone with a tingkat in hand these days has become a rare occurrence.
Hai Seng’s impressive selection of enamel tingkats offers customers the luxury of choice between a variety of colours, shapes, and sizes. Their assortment of vibrantly coloured 10cm 3-tiered tingkats costs $25 each, while the 14cm 3-tiered tingkats bearing iconic old-school rooster or rose designs cost $32 each.
Just a note for prospective enamelware buyers: Hai Seng has a poster with a disclaimer stating that enamelware may not be the best choice for fussy folks. Minor imperfections in enamel products are unavoidable since they’re handmade via a painstaking 7 or 8 step process. But on the other hand, your product will be truly one of a kind.
That being said, rest assured that all enamel products sold at Hai Seng Porcelain are fully functional, safe to use, and of high quality – just make sure to double check for minor cosmetic imperfections before bringing your purchases home.
Traditional kopitiam coffee sets
Kopitiam cup and saucer set.
While nothing beats the feeling of sitting in a retro coffee shop and having your morning kopi alongside a plate of fresh kaya toast, these porcelain kopitiam cups – the very same ones used in local coffee shops – can bring the kopitiam feel directly into your home.
Each cream-coloured porcelain coffee cup is decorated with the signature kopitiam cup green floral design, and costs $2.20 each. Alternatively, you can get the cup and saucer set for $3 – a small additional price to pay to avoid getting coffee ring stains on your tables.
If you’re really looking to replicate the kopitiam vibe in your own home, get one of Hai Seng’s traditional metal coffee pots, which start from $48 and come in a variety of sizes.
Claypots, cutlery & bamboo steamers
For those looking to level up their cooking game, take a look at Hai Seng’s assortment of claypots. The flat white claypots start from $18 for a 7” one, and go up to $60 for a 13” version.
Hai Seng’s rounded claypots are more robust and come in both black and white. These claypots range from 7” to 12.5”, with white claypots starting from $30 and black ones starting from $35.
Finding affordable cutlery isn’t difficult when you’re at Hai Seng Porcelain. Their porcelain Chinese soup spoons retails for $0.70 to $1 per spoon, depending on the design.
In addition to soup spoons, you can also find porcelain chopstick holders for $2 apiece, as well as cooking utensils such as ladles, and plain but hardy metal cutlery that is a staple in any household.
Lastly, crane your head upward to take a peek at these bamboo steamers, which are placed along the higher shelves. These round bamboo steamers start from $15 for 2-tiered steamers, and they are perfect for those who want to recreate the Din Tai Fung experience at home.
Visit Hai Seng Porcelain at Chinatown
Just a 7-minute walk from Exit A of Chinatown MRT, Hai Seng Porcelain is a hidden gem stocked with nostalgic old-school homeware that your ah ma once used.
With its bright yellow sign and friendly auntie and uncle, Hai Seng is one of the few remaining authentic shops where you can find iconic homeware reminiscent of old-school Singapore. Revisit the good old days by stocking up on affordable rooster bowls, enamelware, and other retro finds.
For more on where to find great homeware:
- 7 best items from IKEA’s Varmblixt collection
- Planet Plus, a pink-hued home & living shop at Orchard
- Homeware items for less than $20 that you can find at Standard Products
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