Soon Huat Dining House – a fresh start in life

Soon Huat Dining House

Soon Huat Dining House 順發美食之家 has a heartwarming story which may remind us of what Christmas is all about. It is a story about how an ex-convict who cooked for death row prisoners had a fresh start in life and went on to give fresh starts to many ex-offenders in the Soon Huat group of restaurants.

Soon Huat Dining House at Chinatown Point
Soon Huat Dining House

Located on the 2nd level of Chinatown Point, Soon Huat Dining House 順發美食之家 is a casual diner offering bak kut teh, curry fish head and a selection of zhi char dishes.

Soon Huat Dining House Chinatown Point

Below are pictures of sections of the menu of Soon Huat Dining House. The full current menu can be viewed on the restaurant’s Facebook Page (link below).

Soon Huat Dining House Bak Kut Teh
Soon Huat Dining House Menu
Menu of Soon Huat Dining House

We visited Soon Huat Dining House recently. Orders are made by ticking on a menu chit and handing it over to the wait staff. Food will be served to the table. Payment is made at the cashier’s counter after the meal.

We ordered two items for a quick lunch – Seafood White Bee Hoon ($9.90) and Fried Prawn Rolls ($9.90)

Soon Huat Dining House Prawn Roll

The prawn rolls had thin crispy skins. The filling was dense and had lots of different ingredients. They seemed like a combination of the typical hae cho and liver roll. Those who do not dislike the taste of liver would find the prawn rolls tasty.

Soon Huat Dining House Seafood White Bee Hoon

The seafood white bee hoon was served on a large flat dish. The gravy was dark because bak kut teh broth had been introduced into Soon Huat’s version of white bee hoon. The seafood stock enhanced with herbal and slightly peppery bak kut teh broth was flavourful. The seafood white bee hoon was a well prepared dish and was enjoyable. We would happily order the dish again.

Soon Huat Dining House Seafood White Bee Hoon

Soon Huat Dining House 順發美食之家 may seem like an ordinary casual restaurant for ordinary patrons staffed by regular people. In fact, Soon Huat Dining House is a social enterprise with a mission to “provide ex-offenders, drug abusers and the less privileged in the community meaningful employment opportunities”.

The heartwarming story of Jabez Tan is told in an article in the Straits Times. Jabez was introduced to a secret society at the age of twelve and got involved in all kinds of gang activities. He became a drug abuser and even started dealing in drugs. He was in and out of prison and given twelve strokes of the cane. In his last stint in prison, he requested to work in the kitchen. Due to his outstanding skills, he was promoted to be a main chef and selected to prepared meals for condemned inmates. While cooking last meals for prisoners waiting to be hanged, it dawned on him that if he did not change his ways, one day someone else might be cooking a last meal in prison for him. Jabez became a Christian while in jail and his life started to turn around. Upon his release, Jabez Tan started his own business, Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh of which half the staff were former inmates. Soon Huat has helped many ex-offenders since.

In another Straits Times (ST) story – Former jailbird flies high in new career – James Giam recounted how, after many stints in prison, he met Jabez Tan who employed him as a dishwahser and taught him how to cook. James were to go back to prison a few more times after that. James said of Jabez, “each time, he wrote to me when I was in jail and asked if I wanted to come back to work with him”. The ST article says “James Giam is now a head chef, thanks to a social enterprise that took a chance on him”.

It is a touching story about a person being transformed by having faith in a transcendental God and going on to make a difference in the lives of many. Perhaps that is why many celebrate Christmas – the Christmas story is also about a fresh start and a God asking us if we want to be transformed and to make a difference in the lives of many.

Merry Christmas


Soon Huat Dining House 順發美食之家
133 New Bridge Road
Chinatown Point #02-38
Singapore 059413

Tel: +65 6677 6286

Opening Hours: 11 am – 9.30 pm

Nearby MRT Station: Chinatown

Facebook Page

The Ordinary Patrons | Real Dining Experience of Ordinary People
an independent Singapore food blog

He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.
– Titus 2:14 (The Message)

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