17 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199438
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Scoring with His Food


Name of business:

Kampong Glam Cafe

Business location:

17 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199438

Business type:

Food & Beverage




Kampong Glam Cafe is a family-run business serving authentic Malay cuisine at an affordable price. After retiring from professional football, Mr Bashir Khan has dedicated himself to his business, and to developing the Kampong Gelam community.

At the junction of Bussorah Street and Baghdad Street is a block of red and white shophouses; the wide red awning beckons hot and hungry passers-by under the shade and into the relaxed atmosphere of Kampong Glam Cafe. Founded in 2004 by Mr Bashir Khan and his late uncle, Mr Abdul Rahim bin Musa, the cafe serves home-cooked Malay dishes and drinks. It occupies what used to be an electrical shop called Kampong Glam Radio, whose logo was adapted by Mr Bashir to form the red and white signboard that dons the storefront today.

Unbeknownst to most patrons, Mr Bashir was a professional football player in the 1990s before his uncle approached him with a proposal to start a food and beverage business.  Playing for the national team as well as local clubs like Tampines, Jurong and Balestier, Mr Bashir’s connections to the Singapore football scene often brings familiar faces, both old and new to the cafe. On occasion, patrons might even catch a glimpse of visiting foreign players. It is often in these unsuspecting corners of the city where stories like Mr Bashir’s are tucked away, and only through exploring new places and speaking to people can they be uncovered.

Kampong Glam Cafe stands out against the cluster of Mediterranean restaurants in the area, offering local favourites such as mee siam, mee rebus, and nasi lemak. Customers can also request for makan dulang, a spread of dishes served on a large tray perfect for a family dinner or communal meal. In addition to its extensive ala carte menu, the cafe’s nasi padang display boasts its bright yellow sayur lodeh, juicy beef rendang, and stacks of golden-brown soto ayam. Apart from the weekday office crowd, long queues of people coming from the mosque can be seen trailing the street on weekends.

With the rising tide of social media, delivery apps, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Bashir knows that change is necessary. Over the last two years, Kampong Glam Cafe introduced its own in-house delivery service on top of its partnerships with Grab, Food Panda, and Deliveroo. Moving away from the days of cash-only, the cafe also accepts contactless payment.

Mr Bashir can often be seen behind the cashier greeting customers, taking orders, and clearing tables all the way from dawn to dusk. After 8 pm, he hands over the reins to his brother who takes care of the duties until closing time. In fact, running the business is a whole family affair. Mr Bashir’s children would help out in the past when they were in need of extra hands. Furthermore, all the delicious dishes are original recipes of his aunt, who has worked there as a chef since its opening. It may not be easy work, but Mr Bashir treasures the fact that he is able to work with his family every day, something that is becoming less and less common.

The cafe is patronised by office workers on most weekdays, but weekends are when it is the busiest, as crowds from Haji Lane and Sultan Mosque flock towards the nearest food options. For these reasons, Mr Bashir is appreciative of being in the heart of the historic precinct. However, his loyalty to Kampong Gelam stems much deeper.

Mr Bashir has always been a team player, choosing to fight for the success of his team rather than his own victory. Despite the risk of added competition, he often extends his help to his neighbouring business owners, especially those in the F&B industry. His commitment to uniting the community is grounded in his belief that teamwork is the key to making positive changes. As a member of One Kampong Glam (OKG), he actively supports events at Sultan Mosque, occasionally sponsoring food for them. He has also been working with the council to solve problems such as traffic and parking with the hope of benefitting all the businesses in the area. As much help as he has given to the community, he has received in return. Thus, the end of one chapter of Mr Bashir’s life gave way to the beginning of a new one; and it is the impenetrable sense of community and team spirit which carries his story forward.

Interviewed by Abbas Khan and Tommy Yeo on 25 May 2022.