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Tiong Bahru Neighbourhood Guide: Where to Eat, Shop and Do in the Fam-Friendly Hipster Haven

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Charming Tiong Bahru is one our fave neighbourhoods in Singapore. Here’s the lowdown on all the fab restaurants, playgrounds, wet markets, cafes, and boutiques!

Mention Tiong Bahru to an older Singaporean and most would find this downtown neighbourhood synonymous for its historical relevance to times dating back to the Japanese occupation during World War I. It’s also one of the oldest residential areas in Singapore. Mention Tiong Bahru to a younger local and what you might hear is that it’s one of the coolest neighbourhoods in town filled with hipster coffee joints and indie bookstores. What’s great about Tiong Bahru is that it’s a refreshing confluence of new and old. Alongside the modern stores that have popped up in this area, you’ll find art deco shophouses with colourful doors and perhaps even an elderly auntie peeking out through the window. In the same neighbourhood, the trendy yoga studio and cozy brunch spots coexist with the local market and hawker centers. There’s a laid back charm to this place you can’t deny.

Here’s a look at the various little nooks, hidden as well as known ones, that make Tiong Bahru worth a visit.

Restaurants and Cafes

Tiong Bahru Estate is simply teeming with restaurants and cafes. Where does one begin? Some of the restaurants have even made their humble beginnings in this neighbourhood and expanded to other locations around town. While it’s not possible to list them all, below are some of the more noteworthy places to try. We’re talking flaky croissants, deliciously strong coffee, mouthwatering cupcakes, tummy-filling brunches, and cool dining concepts. Café-hopping? Hmm, not a bad idea!

Tiong Bahru Bakery

Tiong Bahru Bakery is a must-visit for its desserts and viennoiseries. While the bakery’s claim to fame are its buttery croissants and kouign amanns, their other goodies such as the rich brownies are worth trying as well. So good!

Tiong Bahru Bakery56 Eng Hoon Street, #01-70, Singapore 160056, Tel: (+65) 6220 3430, www.tiongbahrubakery.com

Head to 40 Hands for specialty coffee and solid brunch offerings. A great one for early birds (they open at 7am), The 40 Hands Falalafel, Chili Scram, and Korean Fried Chicken Burger are just some of the dishes worth trying here. And with coffee roasted by Common Man Coffee Roasters, you know you’re in for a strong delicious cuppa here! Forty Hands has free Wi-Fi and plenty of space inside for laptops and work meets so it’s a fave spot for freelancers too.

Read more: Coffices in SG: The Best Work-Friendly Wi-Fi Cafés in Town

40 Hands, 78 Yong Saik Street, #01-12, Singapore 163078, Tel: (+65) 6225 8545, www.40handscoffee.com

Plain Vanilla Bakery

Plain Vanilla Bakery is a neighbourhood favourite. Make sure you stop by to get cupcake and take another to-go for later! The cupcakes here are simply irresistible (try the green tea or the hazelnut flavor – to die for!). The workspace-style setup, a swing and a rocking horse for the little ones, and bikes outside the storefront all add to the charm of this bakery.

Plain Vanilla, 1D Yong Siak St, Singapore 168641, Tel: (+65) 8363 7614, www.plainvanilla.com.sg

Unique in its offering of a gluten-free only menu, The Butcher’s Wife is a great spot for anyone (gluten-free or not!) looking for delicious European food and natural wines. The menu is not overly extensive but offers a mix of classics such as the baked focaccia, burrata and grilled octopus and some interesting dishes such as green pea hummus and carrot quinoa tartare.
Read our full write up on this gluten-free resto here.

The Butcher’s Wife, 19 Yong Siak St, Singapore 168650, Tel: (+65) 6221 9307, www.thebutcherswifesg.com

Bincho

Bincho is an interesting space which took a 70-year old kopitiam (traditional coffee shop) and transformed it into a unique dining experience, consisting of a yakitori bar and Japanese-inspired cocktails. Definitely a hidden gem worth checking out!

Bincho, 78 Moh Guan Terrace, #01-19, Singapore 162078, Tel: (+65) 6438 4567, www.bincho.com.sg

Step inside Bakalaki and you are treated to the beautiful interiors of a Greek taverna. This place has grown in popularity for its authentic and hearty Mediterranean fare. What’s more, the wine selection is exclusively from the Greek/Mediterranean region. The main courses are filling enough but make sure you leave room for their tasty desserts – the baklava and the lakoumades (traditional Greek doughnuts with honey, cinnamon, and chocolate sauce on the side) are divine!

Bakalaki3 Seng Poh Rd, Singapore 168891, Tel: (+65) 6836 3688, www.bakalaki.com

A bakery that cuts out the sugar and has a gluten free menu might sound questionable to some. But over at Tiann’s Bakery, they have a menu of delicious offerings! The signature waffles, made with a mix of almond, chia seeds, coconut, eggs, rice, are definitely worth a try! Passing by the area during lunch? Stop by and order something from their lunch menu – we hear the Grandma’s Bibimbap dish is delish!

Tiann’s Bakery,71 Seng Poh Rd, #01-35, Singapore 160071, Tel: (+65) 6222 1369, www.tianns.com.sg

Merci Marcel

Merci Marcel has gorgeous tropical interiors and makes a lovely brunch spot. The food is largely French – charcuterie boards, lots of cheese (flown in from France weekly), Duck or Crab Rillettes and Croque Monsieur to go with the French wines from as little as $8 a glass. Read our full review here.

Merci Marcel, 56 Eng Hoon Street, #01-68, Singapore 160056 , Tel: (+65) 6224 0113, www.mercimarcel.com

Few places in Singapore offer truly authentic Peranakan food. The House of Peranakan Petit is a family-owned business keeping the Peranakan culinary tradition alive. Using recipes learned from the owner Seah Bee Leng’s grandmother, the restaurant keeps it real with the use of fresh ingredients and unpretentious, home-style cooking. Try the Long Beans with Shrimp in Sambal Sauce, Scallops Lemak, and Bakwang Kepiting – you won’t regret it!

House of Peranakan Petit42 Eng Hoon St, Singapore 169785, Tel: (+65) 6222 1719, www.houseofperanakan.com.sg

If you’re craving tarts and pies, Drips Bakery Café has got you covered. Sometimes a mama just needs to indulge! Try one of their signature sweet tarts – yuzu tart, chocolate hazelnut mascarpone, or whatever floats your boat! Not in the mood for something sweet? Then how about sinking your teeth into the spicy butter chicken pie?

Drips Bakery Café #01-05, 82 Tiong Poh Rd, Singapore 160082, Tel: (+65) 6222 0400, www.drips.com.sg

Chapter 55 is Tiong Bahru’s neighbourhood Italian bistro serving up the classics – thin crust pizza, lobster ravioli, seafood spaghetti, beef tenderloin, and much more. However, a meal there is not complete without tasting one of their gelato waffles. The butterscotch banana crumble gelato waffle is a winner in our book! Chapter 55 has an ongoing 1-for-1 lunch promotion available on weekdays between 11:30am and 3pm so it’s always popular for those in the know!

Read more: Cheapest Set Lunch Deals in Singapore

Chapter 55#01-37, 55 Tiong Bahru Rd, Singapore 160055, Tel: (+65) 6221 2219, www.chapter55.com.sg

Arguably one of the most well-known cafes in Singapore, PS Café has a location tucked away in Tiong Bahru known as PS Café Petit. This tiny location has a slightly different menu from the regular PS Cafés around town and focuses on pizzas (mostly takeout) but you can still dine in the small space for hearty salads, pizzas, pastas, and sinful desserts at affordable prices here.

PS Café Petit, Block 78, 41 Guan Chuan Street, Singapore 160078, Tel: (+65) 9226 7088, www.pscafe.com/pscafe-petit-at-tiong-bahru

Tiong Bahru Wet Market & Hawker Centre

Tiong Bahru Wet Market is well known as one of the markets with the freshest produce in Singapore. Unlike other wet markets, you will also find a selection of Western produce and foods here – we’re talking meats and cheese from Australia and New Zealand at prices lower than those in the supermarkets! The hawker center selling local dishes at a wallet-friendly price sits just above the wet market on the second floor. This year, two of the stalls made it to the 2018 Bib Gourmand’s list: Sotong Prawn Mee (#02-01) and Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice (stall #02-82) stalls.

More food inside the hawker centre:

Jian Bo Shui Kueh: The queues on weekends are so massive that you’ll know instantly where to find good food. Shui Kueh, or as some may spell it as Chwee Kueh, is a steamed rice cupcake topped with a deliciously rich preserved radish concoction that packs a huge pang of umami.

HarriAnn’s Delight: You may see their storefront dotted across the island, but Tiong Bahru is where the magic all started. Handmade Nyonya kuehs line up in a simple display cabinet, showing off their glorious colours — perfect for that sweet hit you’ll need as you explore the rest of the neighbourhood. Try the ondeh ondeh, orbs filled with liquid gula melaka centres, or the ever-popular Lapis Sagu.

Tiong Bahru Pau: The stall is one of the biggest in the market and for a good reason. The number of people who need to get their pau fix doesn’t seem to ever stop. The queue moves fast so get your order ready in your head so you can rattle it off the moment the auntie gets to you. Locals love the char siew pau, da pau (a large bun filled with chicken and a hard-boiled egg), and the lor mai kai featuring well-seasoned chicken on a bed of glutinous rice.

Tiong Bahru Wet Market,30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore 168898
Opening Hours: Daily from early morning to 13:00

Other Hawker Food

Away from the Hawker Centre is the corner shop Tiong Bahru Yong Tao Hu known for it’s Yong Tao Hu. If you’re familiar with this dish at all, you’ll know that it’s commonly associated with a wide array of fishcakes and vegetables which you can take your pick from. This stall however, hand-makes all their fishcakes and you won’t be able to choose from a huge variety but it’s the real deal. Order yours with soup or without, with noodles or rice, and definitely try the laksa sauce – you won’t regret it.

Tiong Bahru Yong Tao Hu, #01-46, Chay Yen Street, Block 56

If you’re looking for somewhere to try great zi char (local eating house offering simple home-cooked food), you’ll be hard pressed to find a local who hasn’t tried Por Kee Eating House. Don’t be intimidated by the menu – here are some favourites to get you started; the champagne pork ribs, the salted egg squid and their signature homemade tofu.

Por Kee Eating House, 69 Seng Poh Lane, #01-02, Singapore 160069

tiong bahru adventure playground

Tiong Bahru Adventure Playground

Close to Tiong Bahru MRT, just off Lower Delta Road you will find Tiong Bahru Park. This playground is a hit with the kiddos – there’s the flying fox ride, the maze, the swings plus lots of good little pathways for scootering around. And get this: it has a huge tilting train play area, which will make littlies with Thomas the Tank Engine obsessions deliriously happy. Needless to say, it’s free!
Tiong Bahru Adventure Playground, Tiong Bahru Road (parking/entrance near the corner of Lower Delta Road), Singapore 168732

Art Murals

One way to explore the Tiong Bahru Estate is to tour the various murals created by local artists. Yip Yew Chong’s work depicts idyllic times from the artist’s childhood days in the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood. These murals are utterly charming in their depiction of how things used to be in the olden days — street vendors selling laksa,  a small “mom and pop” shop selling daily provisions, and an old-fashioned living room with rattan chairs and a small television box set. Another artist Ernest Goh has also made his mark in the neighbourhood with his works of “Tiong Bahru Animals” and “Year of the Goat”, which kids will enjoy seeing and posing in front of (case in point below!).

To locate the murals in Tiong Bahru, take a peek at these helpful links from the artists’ official websites:

Health & Wellness

A hip little yoga studio just across from 40 Hands, Yoga Movement has something for everyone, from the newbies to the yogis. The studio offers 8 different types of yoga classes of different levels. The website itself is a great place to start for newcomers to understand the intensity level and focus points of each class, whether it is for building endurance and stamina, flexibility, or muscle tone. The studio aims to make yoga approachable for all and as you step inside the studio with its relaxed vibes, you know you’re in for a good yoga session.

Yoga Movement,11 Yong Siak St, Singapore 168646, Tel: (+65) 8223 3540, www.yogamovement.com

Yoga Inc is another yoga studio along Yong Siak Street offering a range of yoga classes suitable for all levels. The studio also has prenatal yoga classes and yoga for kids. To keep things fun, the studio often plans events and sessions for its member community, such as the 30-Day Yoga Challenge and a Halloween Yoga Session!

Yoga Inc, 21 Yong Siak Street Singapore 168651, Tel: (+65) 9092 3922, www.yogainc.sg

We Need A Hero is an interesting choice of name for a men’s salon. But when you read about this salon’s sole ambition of “grooming ordinary men into celebrated heroes”, you understand why. We’re not just talking haircuts here. We Need A Hero offers a range of services to gentrify the male species, from shaving to waxing to tweezing!

We Need A Hero, 57 Eng Hoon St, Block 57, Singapore 160057, Tel: (+65) 6222 5590, www.weneedahero.sg

A shipping container would not typically be synonymous with the word “spa”. But Nimble/Knead proves you wrong. Behind the unusual shopfront lies a selection of facials and body treatments, such as Thai, Balinese, Swedish and pre-natal massages, that sound divine. Come prepared to be transported to a faraway place of relaxation, shipping not included.

Nimble/Knead, 66 Eng Watt Street #01-28, Singapore 160066, Tel: (+65) 6438 3933, www.nimbleknead.com

Boutiques and Shops

Looking to brighten up your home with some greenery? Walk over to Chay Yan Street and make a visit to Charlotte Puxley Flowers. You would almost miss this unassuming location if you didn’t know any better. But step inside and you are transported to a charming space with floral bouquets and arrangements in every corner. Charlotte Puxley Flowers offers flower bouquets (fresh as well as dried floral arrangements) to buy on the spot or order through a subscription-based delivery.

Charlotte Puxley Flowers79 Chay Yan Street #01-02, Singapore 160079, Tel: (+65) 6904 4980, www.charlottepuxleyflowers.com

Poptsie Paper Co

Poptsie Paper Co is a boutique design studio that shares the same space as Charlotte Puxley Flowers. With a combination of artful lettering and botanical arrangements, Poptsie Paper Co creates gorgeous keepsakes and stationery for special occasions. Looking for a unique activity to do for a bachelorette party or baby shower? Poptsie Paper Co also offers workshops on blending modern calligraphy with botanical art.

Poptsie Paper Co, 79 Chay Yan Street, #01-02, Singapore 160079, www.poptsiepaperco.com

Nana & Bird is a quaint little boutique that carries a curated selection of women’s wear and children’s clothes from various independent designers from around the globe. These include Nana & Bird’s own in-house label as well as local designers. The options in this store are unique with sleek designs for women’s wear and fun whimsical ones for the kids.

Nana & Bird, 1 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168641, Tel: (+65) 9117 0430, www.shop.nanaandbird.com 

If you’re into bags, take a peek inside Kwani, a Korean store specializing in handbags and apparel at affordable price points. Minimalistic chic would be the best way to describe the design aesthetics of this brand. Here you will find pieces that are stylish yet practical for everyday use.

Kwani1H Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168641, Tel: +65 6224 1709, http://en.kwani.kr

Maissone is your one-stop shop for online homewares with a mix of stylish everyday items or statement pieces for your home. If you’re looking for some unique home décor pieces or want to refurbish your nest, Maissone offers a broad selection of art pieces to cushions, rugs and frames (all products sourced globally). You’ll also love their exclusive collection of bed linen from New Zealand with its fresh colour combinations and neat style.

Maissone 38 Eng Hoon Street, Singapore 169783, Tel: +65 6669 9681, www.maissone.com

Bookstores

Books Actually is an independent bookstore that caters to the grown-ups, specializing in works of Fiction and Literature and housing the largest collection of Singapore literary publications. Some of the pieces are rare editions or obscure works. The store also has a collection of cute and quirky stationery (a personal diary with Singlish terms and their meanings for every day of the year, anyone?).  Also, don’t miss the “Mystery Book Vending Machine” outside the store – yes, it really is a vending machine of books in brown paper packaging containing clues to the genre of the book!

Books Actually9 Yong Siak St, Singapore 168645, Tel: (+65) 6222 9195, www.booksactuallyshop.com

Woods in the Books

Woods in the Books is a haven for the little ones. Their carefully curated collection of children’s books is quite different from what you might find in the usual bookstores. What we love about this store is that it also has author readings and storytelling sessions along with fun games and activities that reinforce a love of reading. Be sure to visit the store’s website to see their calendar of events for kids.

Woods in the Books, 3 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168642, Tel: (+65) 6222 9980, www.woodsinthebooks.sg

And that’s a wrap mamas! If you know of any places that were missed in the Tiong Bahru Estate, do drop us a note at [email protected] and we’ll be sure to check it out!

Lead image courtesy of the author; Tiong Bahru Wet Market image by Carolyn Mckay Photography

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