CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28274615
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28274615
Singaporeans are the masters of metaphor. Take, for instance, “Singapore has a rojak culture” or “Your English very rojak”. “Mixed” might be a good word, but it doesn’t pack as much power, and dare we say, flavour.
Well, this rojak in question is actually a Southeast Asian salad. There are two types of rojak sold in Singapore, the Indian Rojak and the Chinese rojak. The dish sold by Chinese hawkers comprises fruits, vegetables, fried dough fritters and tofu skin, doused in sweet, thick gravy made from fermented shrimp, and topped with a sprinkling of peanuts. Hence, “rojak” meaning “mixed” in Singlish.
As much as we’d heartily recommend this dish, it definitely isn’t as healthy as the vegetable-based salads you’ll find at Western diners. But it’s worth a try for its sweet-savoury umami goodness. Trust us. Singaporeans swear by Brothers Rojak, situated in Clementi, about 30 minutes west of the city centre. It’s worth a shot if you’re venturing out of the built-up areas for a sight of everyday life. Beware of the queue at Brothers, though. Expect to wait 30 minutes for a plate of rojak during peak hours.
449 Clementi Ave 3, #01-211, Singapore 120449
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9.30am to 9.30pm, closed on Sun
Nearest MRT: Clementi
Singapore has a specialty coffee roaster, and many third-wave cafés buy their beans from them. Common Man Coffee Roasters started out with a mission to make great coffee accessible to everyone. They’ve since moved beyond serving the average Joe an average cuppa joe (#sorrynotsorry) and morphed into an established institution in the local coffee scene. Their coffee is strong and aromatic with a good depth of flavour, but be warned that brunch prices are a little steep for the common man or woman.
Common Man Coffee Roasters
22 Martin Road #01-00, SINGAPORE 239058
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7.30am to 5pm, Sat & Sun 7.30am to 6pm
Nearest MRT: Tiong Bahru
The Katong Antique House is a one-of-a-kind “museum” displaying Peranakan artefacts. Owner and former President of the Peranakan Association, Peter Wee, has sadly passed away, but his legacy lives on in the house. The Peranakan Association has taken over the upkeep of Katong Antique House to preserve the Peranakan culture in a city obsessed with economic progress. Drop by for a taste of a bygone era and to learn more about the daily lives of the Peranakans in Singapore. Be sure to make an appointment prior to your visit.
Katong Antique House
208 East Coast Rd, Singapore 428907
Opening hours: Daily 11am to 4.30pm by appointment only
Phone: +65 6345 8544 (call for appointments)
What do Singapore’s insomniacs do at 3am? Go shopping, of course. Mustafa Centre is near and dear to all restless night owls burdened by 9 to 6 life. The departmental store is open 24/7 and is perpetually filled with people on bargain hunts. Whatever it is that you’re looking for, you’ll very likely find it at Mustafa. Think cameras, vacuum bags, shower gels, eggs, and even gold bars. It’s absolutely worth taking the time to stock up on travel essentials there.
145 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207704
Opening hours: All day, all night
Hola amigos, I think you know the drill. For the uninitiated, check out our first weekly feature here.
This week, we’d like to move on from chicken rice to something heavier and messier. Enter satay bee hoon, a splattering sensation with sweetness and crunch in every bite.
The idea of throwing satay sauce over shellfish and cuttlefish might seem strange, but satay bee hoon has sure developed a cult following in Singapore. Scattered with crunchy raw cuttlefish and cockles, it’s a love it or hate it kind of dish. But what really matters is the sauce. It’s unbecoming to drink straight peanut sauce (hey, we’ve got a sense of decorum too), so even though the ingredients might make you think twice on their own, a good serving of sauce will usually offset your hesitation. Head to Ang Mo Kio for bee hoon slathered in sweet, salty, nutty and spicy gravy, but beware of the queue. It might set you back a good half an hour.
Centre Satay Bee Hoon
724 Ang Mo Kio Ave 6, #01-12, Singapore 560724
Nearest MRT: Ang Mo Kio
Opening hours: Wed-Sun 11am to 9pm; closed on Tue
Highlander Coffee was one of the first kids on the block when third wave coffee was gaining ground in Singapore. Boasting its own roasting facility in Singapore, Highlander Coffee is a wholesale coffee beans supplier which also serves smooth and aromatic coffee. Besides, they also conduct workshops for the aspiring barista and sell equipment that enhance the coffee drinking experience. Visit their storefront for personable service from their baristas.
49 Kampong Bahru Rd, Singapore 169362
Nearest MRT: Outram Park
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9am to 5pm; closed on Sun
Sit tight! This week, we’ll introduce you to a place so hip none of its guests know its exact location. A watering hole situated somewhere in the woods of Central Singapore, The Kave HQ is an intimate hangout for indie music lovers. Its lineup includes local indie pop bands who will entertain you as you grab your fifth drink at the bar. You want directions? Unfortunately, Google Maps can’t help you this time. You’ll have to gather at a meeting point with fellow partygoers where you’ll be picked up in either a Volkswagen Beetle or Kombi. Nothing can top this now.
The Kave HQ
Stay tuned on Facebook for details of their upcoming events.
Who says marketing always involves fresh food? Singapore is full of day and night markets selling almost anything under the sun, from household items to clothing. But what if you could leave your wallet behind? The Singapore Really Really Free Market (SRRFM) relies on a neo-bartering model where you can swap your unwanted items for someone else’s. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Do your part for the Earth and help your bank account out too!
Singapore Really Really Free Market
Stay tuned on Facebook for details of their upcoming events.
Hullo friends, and welcome back to our weekly feature of places to check out in Singapore! We sincerely hope that we don’t run out of cool stuff to feature soon.
What’s Singapore’s best known dish worth flying halfway around the world for? A ‘deceptively simple’ meal made out of boiled poultry and rice, chicken rice never fails to satiate our appetites.
The dish was brought to Singapore by poor Hainanese immigrants from China, and thereafter adapted out of necessity to ensure that every last drop of flavour is squeezed out of a single chicken. Each vendor has its own secret, but in general, chicken rice is prepared thus: a whole chicken is boiled then hung to dry. The resulting broth is used to boil the rice, make soup to accompany the dish and contribute to the fragrant soy sauce sprinkled over the finished dish. It’s surprising how much flavour a bird can impart.
Food enthusiasts would probably have heard of Tian Tian Chicken Rice, a Michelin-starred hawker stall lauded by Gordon Ramsay and the late Anthony Bourdain. Critics love the rice which is tasty enough to be eaten on its own, as well as the slippery chicken. Unfortunatley, some have found standards to be slipping lately, but since you’re here, we’d recommend you give it a go!
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur Street, #01-10/11, Singapore 069184
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 11am to 8pm, Closed on Mon
Chye Seng Huat Hardware Store might sound like a dusty shophouse out of the 1940s, but don’t be fooled by this one. The front of the building might retain its old school elements and signboard, but its interior and back house a coffee roaster, a fully-fledged cafe, and a workshop space.
Critics and coffee aficionados rave about their cold brew which makes for essential post-lunch drinking when the weather gets unbearable and the eyes start drooping.
Chye Seng Huat Hardware
150 Tyrwhitt Rd, Singapore 207563
Opening hours: Tue-Thu, Sun 9am to 10pm, Fri-Sat 9am to 12am
If you’re wandering around Tiong Bahru, visiting bookstores or stopping by for coffee, don’t miss Curated Records. A rare gem in a highly digitised city, Curated Records offers vinyl records for the music lover and vintage enthusiast. A glance through Google Reviews suggests that the store covers most genres, from classic rock to movie soundtracks, so you’ll likely find something that suits your music tastes.
The owner is apparently very friendly and passionate about the whole vinyl business, so chat him up if you need someone to share your obsessions!
55 Tiong Bahru Rd, Singapore 160055
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 1pm to 8pm, Closed on Mon
For cheap quality produce, head east to Geylang Serai Market, one of Singapore’s biggest and busiest wet markets. Situated in Geyland Serai, one of the oldest Malay settlements on the island, the market was given a fresh design and a new roof directly inspired by traditional Malay Minangkabau architecture.
Geylang Serai Market is the perfect place to stock up on ingredients to whip up good, hearty Malay dishes. Check out the Malay and Middle Eastern spices if you’re looking to diversify your pantry. The best part? Prices at the market are among the lowest in Singapore, so you can shop with ease of mind!
Geylang Serai Market
1 Geylang Serai, Singapore 402001
Opening hours: 6.30am to 12pm daily (wet market), 8am to 10pm daily (food centre)
Whaddup, everyone? It’s your very normal Insider writing (again). This week, we’re shaking things up a little. We’ll still be featuring seemingly random snippets of Singapore life, but we’re turning our focus to locally vouched-for food and entertainment options so you know you’re only getting the best. Of course, we can’t guarantee that you’ll like our recommendations, but we don’t want you to fall into the tourist trap. Scroll down for our first feature of the week: Laksa!
Ah, the rain. Singapore gets its fair share of thunderstorms every year, which provides immeasurable relief to its citizens. However, if you hail from cold, cloudy and muggy lands, the rain might remind you too much of your gloomy home (*cough cough* London *cough cough*). If the clouds roll in during your stay in Singapore, please don’t board the next flight to Tonga. Arm yourself with a brolly, waterproof flip flops, and an empty stomach, and splatter your way to the nearest food centre for some hot, spicy, creamy goodness, aka laksa.
Terry Katong Laksa offers creamy, flavourful broth with a generous sprinkling of laksa leaves and a delectable lump of sambal chilli. Despite numerous exhortations from her mother to never consume broth (because anything tasty=MSG), this writer always guiltily slurps up every drop when eating at Terry’s. Well, with no sugar or MSG, this is probably one of the least damaging laksas in Singapore. The stallholder is also really friendly, speaks great English, and will check on your comfort level with cockles and spicyness before adding them to your bowl. Do us a favour and find out if his name is really Terry.
Terry Katong Laksa
Bukit Timah Food Centre
51 Upper Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore 588172
Opening hours: 7am to 10pm daily (Generally runs out by 8pm, so be there early)
Nearest MRT: Beauty World
We figured coffee-ism and hipster-ism shouldn’t be conflated even though they pretty much go hand-in-hand. Because coffee now seems to be an essential component of modern living, hipster or not. For times when you feel the urge to treat yourself, we’ll show you coffeehouses that give Starbucks a run for its money. Most of them are homegrown and independent, and are very attentive to the quality of coffee they put out.
If you’re groggy and ravenous on a weekend morning, why not drop by Kith Café, a Singaporean chain known for their delicious and tummy-stuffing brunch menu. Ordering a cup of their coffee is also a fantastic way to kickstart the day. A unique blend, it’s rich, flavourful, and packs a good but not overpowering punch.
Various Locations: Ascott Orchard, Winsland House, Spottiswoode Park, Bras Basah, etc. Please check http://kith.com.sg/ for exact location.
Opening hours: Varies according to branch. Most open by 7.30am.
There sure are as many hipsters than there are the hipster-avoidant these days. We think this is a good place to feature indie business in Singapore, because. (It’s hip to not finish sentences, okay?)
One of the most insufferable types of hipsters is the literary hipster aka book nerd. Spot them with their bug-eyed glasses, canvas totes with Shakespeare quotes, and slightly ungainly way of walking. If in pairs, you might catch snippets of Russian words such as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Bulgakov, and Kalashnikov in their conversation. What? Kalashnikov isn’t a Russian writer? Damn.
If you’ve got a literary bent, check out BooksActually, a bookstore carrying titles specially curated by the owners. It also houses the largest collection of Singaporean literature, which makes it a great place to bring home some unique souvenirs for your hipster friend who is definitely not you.
9 Yong Siak Street
Opening hours: Sun and Mon 10am to 6pm, Tue to Sat 10am to 8pm
Nearest MRT: Tiong Bahru
Put on your lousiest outfit, comfy but inexpensive shoes, grab a trolley or eco-friendly shopping bag, and go shopping for fresh produce and foodstuff! Tekka Market is well-known for a reason. Even if your accommodation doesn’t come with an attached kitchen, a morning spent squeezing with anxious locals and watching market stallholders going about their busy day is an experience in almost too sanitised Singapore.
Check out this fantastic post by Sassy Mama for the 10 best stalls to visit if you’re looking to whip up a good meal or two!
665 Buffalo Road, Singapore 210665
Opening hours: 6.30am to 9pm (market stalls likely close by 1pm, but there are shops and cooked food stalls upstairs)
Nearest MRT: Little India
Fresh initiate? Head over to our first feature to check out how we roll! On this second feature, let’s dive deeper into Singapore’s food and cultural scene.
Also known as Malaysia’s national dish, nasi lemak is extremely popular even in Singapore. Cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves, the rice takes on a rich, distinctive fragrance that pairs surprisingly well with the traditional sides of ikan bilis, fried peanuts, sliced cucumbers, a hard-boiled egg, and a generous dollop of sambal. Say what you will, but this writer feels that the quality of the sambal makes or breaks the dish. Check out the Google Doodle featuring this lip-smacking dish on 31 January.
If you’re visiting the Botanic Gardens, stop by Adam Road food centre for the Selera Rasa nasi lemak. We advise dropping by earlier in the day as the dish runs out quickly. Customers have also reported queues stretching for an hour, so mornings on weekdays are probably your best bet. If you find yourself vacillating between their chicken wing, fried fish and otah, pick the Royal Rumble, which includes all of them for a hearty meal that’ll power your walk in the gardens post-breakfast.
Opening hours: Mon-Thu 7am to 5pm; Sat-Sun 7am to 3pm; closed on Fri
Address: 2 Adam Rd, Singapore 289876
Nearest MRT: Botanic Gardens (Circle/Downtown Line)
Yes, yes, we know. Hipsters love their coffee. How about some ice-cream to break the monotony?
Ice-cream lovers and lactose-tolerant hipsters alike will appreciate the artisan gelato flavours from Birds of Paradise. Its name reflects the parlour’s ethos of infusing its products with nature-inspired flavours. You won’t see the usual artificial shizzle at this creamery. Challenge your tastebuds with flavours like Strawberry Basil, White Chrysanthemum and Mint Cacao, and take things a step further with a thyme cone freshly made in-store. We hear it’s really good.
Opening hours: Tue-Thu & Sun 12pm to 10pm; Fri-Sat 12pm to 10.30pm; Closed on Mon
Address: 63 East Coast Road, #01-05, Singapore 428776
Nearest MRT: Dakota/Eunos. You’ll need a bus, especially if it’s scorching or pouring. Download CityMapper for precise directions.
It’s no question that Singaporeans are avid moviegoers. Modern cinemas with featuring cushy seats and cutting-edge technology are a dime a dozen. Sometimes, you just long for simpler times, when seats were hard and floors weren’t carpeted.
For a taste of retro filmviewing, head over to The Projector, a cinema ressurected from dust and gloom into an arthouse theatre favoured by creatives and film lovers. The Projector features specially curated programmes which are sure to please discerning moviegoers. The theatre is also a good place to catch controversial and financially risky films.
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 6.30pm to 11.30pm; Sat-Sun 1pm to 11.30pm; Closed on Mon
Address: 6001 Beach Road, #05-00, Golden Mile Tower, 199589
Nearest MRT: Nicoll Highway
One thing Singaporeans love more than markets hawking fresh produce is one selling ready-to-eat nibbles. Behold the pasar malam, or night market, where stallholders set up shop from dusk to late at night. While there are bargains to be sought on anything from clothes to potted plants, it goes without saying that the food and beverage stalls are the stars of the show.
Look out for staple pasar malam fare such as the Ramly burger, fried chicken chop, Japanese takoyaki balls and Thai milk tea. Or hunt for something special like flavoured buns taking the shapes of cartoon characters. However, the difficult part would be pinning down one of these markets as they rotate from place to place. Part of the excitement of pasar malams is going about your daily business and discovering that stalls have magically mushroomed in your neighbourhood. But if you’re only visiting for a couple of days, then this Facebook page might help.
Opening hours: Varies
Nearest MRT: Varies
Our first feature will bring you several places endorsed by Singaporeans themselves. Hey, what better way to know a country than through its locals, right?
Ask any Singaporean to list down their favourite breakfast and/or supper dishes and you’ll inevitably hear the word “prata”. A South Indian import, roti prata literally means flatbread. It’s usually served with a delicious side of fish/mutton/dhal curry, and you can choose between them. Like pizza crusts, prata dough needs to be stretched. Since most prata griddles are in the open, you can watch the prata-man expertly whirling and twirling the dough. You’ll find at least one prata shop in every neighbourhood—that’s how much Singaporeans love it.
Check out Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata, where rumour has it you have to wait 90 minutes for a slab of crispy, fluffy goodness after 9am on weekends. One new entry into your Singapore Traveller Rule Book: If there’s a queue, it’s probably something good.
Opening hours: Thu-Mon 6.30am to 1pm; Tue 6.30am to 11.30am; closed on Wed (we advise arriving before 9am)
Address: Tin Yeang Coffee Shop, 300 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 429356
Nearest MRT: Eunos/Paya Lebar; alternatively, take bus 16 towards Bedok from Orchard
Like any other city in the world, Singapore has a burgeoning hipster community. While the original meaning of the word has long been lost, being hip in Singapore generally entails doing stuff that are not mainstream, and coffee, lots of coffee. We find it apt to begin our hipster feature with a café, specifically one located in Singapore’s widely-acknowledged hipster neighbourhood—Tiong Bahru.
Forty Hands has been fuelling the denizens of Tiong Bahru since October 2010. Its founders were one of the pioneers of bringing in the Third Wave Coffee scene to Singapore. Now, that’s what hipsters do. Its cosy vibe, coupled with its dedication to serving quality specialty coffee, has made its brand sought after amongst the caffeine-dependent masses, so much so that they recently set up a second shop at East Coast. Skip breakfast and drop by for a hearty brunch.
Opening hours: Mon – Wed 7am – 7pm; Thur – Fri 7am – 10pm; Sat – Sun 7.30am – 7pm
Address: 78 Yong Siak Street, #01-12, Singapore 163078
Nearest MRT: Tiong Bahru (10- to 15-minute walk)
Did you know that Singapore is famed across the world (paywall) for its first-rate but affordable healthcare? Its new hospitals are also very aesthetically pleasing, more so than its public housing.
Sengkang General Hospital is the newest kid on the block. Opening its doors in August 2018, the public hospital serves communities in the north-eastern parts of Singapore.
Address: 110 Sengkang East Way, Singapore 544886
Nearest MRT: Sengkang
Markets are an integral part of Singapore living. While Singapore doesn’t have much land for to grow its own produce, its citizens are never short of fresh produce. Every day, crates of fruits and vegetables are flown in or driven down to one of the wholesale centres and auctioned off to market stallholders.
At dawn, aunties with wheeled trolleys begin descending on wet markets, stocking up on produce to feed their families. Tiong Bahru Market serves both the local and expatriate crowd. Vendors peddle both regional and international produce. Seek out the Aussie and NZ beef, which are rumoured to be cheaper than those in supermarkets.
Opening hours: Early morning-1pm
Address: 30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore 168898
Nearest MRT: Tiong Bahru (10- to 15-minute walk)