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'Profiting off poor people aesthetic': New Prinsep St eatery emulating old-school HDB block draws criticism from netizens

'Profiting off poor people aesthetic': New Prinsep St eatery emulating old-school HDB block draws criticism from netizens
Lou Shang is a cafe-bar that looks like an old HDB block.
PHOTO: Screengrab/Instagram/wheresjunk, screengrab/Instagram/saltyaaron

We may miss the good old days, but what if the nostalgia being evoked is about something that never went away?

That seems to be the reaction of netizens on an Instagram Reel by lifestyle influencers Onericeplease that showed upcoming cafe-bar Lou Shang, meaning upstairs in Mandarin.

"The whole place is renovated to look exactly like your old-school HDB estate corridors, with nostalgic items from our childhood," Onericeplease — run by couple Natasha and Erwin — captioned their Aug 15 Reel. 

Lou Shang, a cafe by day and bar by night, is the brainchild of the people behind speakeasy bar Mama Diam and officially opens on Aug 22. 

In the video, Natasha shows familiar green rubbish bins, old letter boxes, a notice board and Lou Shang's "hidden entrance" which looks like an old HDB lift.

The cafe-bar itself emulates common corridors reminiscent of older HDB blocks, with 'apartments' that have louvred windows and doors with metal grilles. There are also shoe racks with feather dusters and places to hang laundry or even a bird cage.

The concrete railing in the middle of the corridor is actually a seating area, complete with a row of bar chairs.

A netizen commented: "Now I can be in Singapore while in Singapore."

"Need the lift to smell like pee to complete the full experience," another joked.


"For a minute I thought you were joking and just filming at your HDB [block] or something," a comment read.

Others took a less lighthearted approach to the choice of decor.

"How is this old-school when I literally live in an estate like this?" a comment read. "Or is this one of those concepts where rich people pay to experience what it's like to be a plebian?"

A netizen found the concept to be "so cringe", writing: "Rich people profiting off of 'poor people aesthetic', like almost mocking their lifestyle when there [are] actual people who live like this."

One comment asked for the prices of the food served at Lou Shang, which Onericeplease described as being inspired by "traditional dishes that we grew up with" like Hokkien prawn mee and pork trotter noodles.

"Why don't [you] just go to [the] HDB kopitiam to have a meal? Same s*** at a discounted price," a comment read.

AsiaOne has reached out to Mama Diam and Onericeplease for comments.

However, not everyone saw Lou Shang's decor in a negative light.

"Just because it's old-school doesn't mean it's inhabited by poor people," a netizen commented, pointing to mature estates like Tampines which is "prime real estate right now."

Others found the concept fascinating, tagging their friends in the comments so they could check Lou Shang out together.



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