Cantonese teahouse at corner of Smith street and Trengganu street

This photograph shows a Cantonese teahouse named Yan Zhen at the corner of Trengganu Street and Smith Street, a “day and night” establishment serving dim sum and tea. Trengganu Street was known as ‘hei yuen wang kai’ or “theatre back street”, a reference to a Cantonese opera theatre, Hei Yuen Kai, located on Smith Street. An inexpensive and uplifting form of entertainment for the growing Chinese population during the late 1800s, Chinese opera was performed in temporary performance spaces that eventually made way for permanent theatres. Chinatown was eventually known as ‘bu yeh tien’ or “the town that never sleeps”.