Bukit Pasoh Road

Text by Eugene Tan

Now cluttered with fancy restaurants, the street was famous for its myriad clan and association buildings, exclusive conclaves of particular peoples, many of which still remain, such as the Ee Hoe Hean Club, Singapore’s first Millionaire’s Club.

View from the junction of Bukit Pasoh and Teo Hong Road (Photo credit: Jeanette Ng)

Bukit Pasoh Road was named after ‘Pasoh’, the Malay word for earthenware pots used to store rice or water in homes, once made in several workshops in the area. The road runs up a hill, which in the 1830s marked the western boundary of the colonial town. Ownership of the land passed through the hands of several Caucasian landowners, with accompanying name changes, until it was auctioned off and divided into building lots in 1856. Its current name was given to it by Tan Keng Hoon, an opium farmer.

Bukit Pasoh shophouses

View of Bukit Pasoh and Teo Hong Road junction

While the road was once dubbed “second wives’ street”, it is significant for its concentration of clan associations, many of which still stand to this day. Of note is the Ee Hoe Hean Club, founded by two prominent local Chinese, Gan Eng Seng and Lee Cheng Yan in 1895. One of the oldest millionaires’ clubs in Singapore, it moved into Bukit Pasoh Road in 1927, where it has been gazetted a heritage site.

Chinese calligraphy session at United Chinese Library

United Chinese Library

With Bukit Pasoh Road achieving conservation status in 1989, its buildings are here to stay. Enticed by the ornate charm of the conservation shophouses, a number of trendy restaurants and hotels have taken root along the street, attracting a new niche demographic. This eclectic mix of tenants old and new has created a street which brings together people of all ages in a communal atmosphere steeped in tradition.