If you’ve been wanting to explore Joo Chiat but aren’t quite sure where to start, then consult Sassy Mama’s ultimate 2020 guide to this fantastic heritage neighbourhood
One of Singapore’s best hidden gems, Joo Chiat first got its name from several roads in the vicinity that had been named after philanthropist and plantation owner Chew Joo Chiat. Sometime in the early 20th century, the Peranakan and Straits Chinese communities migrated into the neighbourhood to live alongside the existing Malay, Indian and Chinese communities. This gave Joo Chiat the multi-ethnic identity it is known for today.
Don’t be fooled by its slightly gritty vibe, because Joo Chiat is actually an eclectic mix of colourful Peranakan houses, delicious local and international cuisine, popular bakeries and much more. It was designated as Singapore’s first “heritage town” in 2011, and is a wonderful representation of Singapore’s aim to preserve the old while promoting all that is new. The next time you make a trip to Joo Chiat with the fam in tow, be sure to make a stop at these interesting spots in the neighbourhood.
Top Shopping Spots in Joo Chiat
Best Places to Eat in Joo Chiat
Fun Activities in Joo Chiat
Read more: Ultimate Guide to East Coast Road
Where to Shop in Joo Chiat
Also known as The Attaby Collective, The AC retails independent labels from fashion, accessories and lifestyle, all under one very stylish roof. The curated labels within The AC all stand in their own right, but complement each other as a whole. The labels’ designers all work within the boutique, selling across brands.
The AC, 420 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427641, Tel: (+65) 8200 8437, www.theac.net
This Katong independent retail shop carries unique and unusual souvenirs, books and home décor. Look out for the resident tabby, too, who’s always up for a scratch between the ears.
Cat Socrates, 448 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427661, Tel: (+65) 6348 0863, www.catsocrates.wixsite.com
The neighbourhood’s go-to spot for high-quality bouquets and floral arrangements, plus they’ve got a fab range of Peranakan ceramics (perfect Singapore souvenirs) and cute plush toys from baby fave Jellycat.
HIEW Floral.Gifts.Home, 268 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427522, Tel: (+65) 6348 8408, www.hiew.com.sg
Head to this old-school mall at the base of an HDB for all sorts of affordable textiles and fabrics, as well as traditional Malay clothing, crafts and jewellery. Around Hari Raya heaps of specialty tents and yummy snack vendors will also pop up!
Joo Chiat Complex, 1 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 420001, www.joochiatcomplex.com
Whatever your need, you’ll probably find it at La Tienda, a one-stop concept store along Joo Chiat Road. What’s on the shelves? Think cute art prints (lots of kid-friendly ones, too!), natural soaps and skincare choices, stylish fabrics, clothing, accessories and much more.
La Tienda, 370 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427615, Tel: (+65) 9774 0688, Facebook page
Vinyl is a serious business here at RetroCrates. Not only does the store release new vinyl often, but it also has limited edition and pre-loved ones as well as hardware up for grabs.
RetroCrates, 448A Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427661, Tel: (+65) 8718 7370 (Whatsapp), www.retrocrates.com
Functional, chic and long-lasting – those are but some of the things you can expect when you shop at this Joo Chiat furniture store. Its collections are made from sustainable teak wood grown in plantations in Java, Indonesia.
Scanteak, 341 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427593, Tel: (+65) 6342 5718, www.scanteak.com.sg
Singapore Trading post houses a plethora of home décor, accessories, furniture, souvenirs and the like from places that used to be trade routes during Singapore’s colonial past, and most of its pieces are truly one-of-a-kind.
Singapore Trading Post, 426 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427644, www.singaporetradingpost.com
The WYLD Shop was founded by Aussie mama Kara Bensley-Austin, who wanted to introduce more Singaporeans to Australian High Street chic. The WYLD Shop stocks more than 26 fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands like Le Specs, Quay Australia, MINKPINK, W.ANT Skincare and more. And they even have a handy kids’ play corner so mamas can shop in peace!
The WYLD Shop, 412 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427637, Tel: (+65) 8518 8620, www.thewyldshop.com
Where to Eat & Drink in Joo Chiat
Inspired by the owners’ grandparents, The 1925 Brewing Co. is the place to go in Joo Chiat if you’re looking for a quality brew. Everything is locally brewed, and you can pair your pints with a delicious Teochew-inspired menu.
The 1925 Brewing Co., 261 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427515, Tel: (+65) 6909 1425, www.the1925.com.sg
Considered one of Singapore’s top places for laksa, its East Coast location is the most famous since celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay visited it. The aromatic dish is filled with a spicy, coconut-based gravy and there’s always a generous portion of noodles and ingredients like cockles, fishcakes and shrimp.
328 Katong Laksa, 216 East Coast Road, Singapore 428914, www.328katonglaksa.sg
Famous for its German beer and authentic German cuisine, Brotzeit is a cosy hangout spot with a friendly atmosphere. We’d recommend tucking into its sausage varieties. You can enjoy rebates on your bill and other discounts if you sign up to be a Brotzeit regular!
Brotzeit,126 East Coast Road, Singapore 428811, Tel: (+65) 6222 9443, www.brotzeit.co
A gem in the East, this cheese paradise stocks a wide variety of European cheeses along with tasty high-end crackers, jams and biscuits. We love that there is no delivery charge for orders over $100.
The Cheese Shop, 267 Joo Chiat Road, #01-01, Singapore, 427521, Tel: (+65) 9152 3601, www.cheeseshop.sg
Owned and run by an Englishman (as you might gather from the hilariously dry Facebook page), this cosy spot has dozens of delicious ciders (Toffee Apple, yum!) and beers on offer, at totally-reasonable-for-Singapore prices.
The Cider Pit, 328 Joo Chiat Road, #01-03, Singapore 427585, Tel: (+65) 6440 0504, Facebook page
Dunman Road Food Centre
It pales in comparison to behemoth Old Airport Road Hawker Centre down the street, but Dunman’s got some solid stalls on offer including Ah Eng Wanton Mee, insane fried chicken wings at Jia Hui BBQ (stall 02-21) and, for the adventurous, Dragon City Frog Porridge.
Dunman Road Food Centre, 271 Onan Road, Singapore 424768
Specialising in black pepper crab, this open-air spot is known for its delicious food, lengthy lines and surly service in equal measure. Get there early to queue, as they’re known to run out and close early.
Eng Seng Crab, 247 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427935, Tel: (+65) 6440 5560, Facebook page
Fei Fei Wanton Noodles
This family-run noodle stall’s been around since the 1940s. It’s open 24 hours and always buzzing, and you can’t knock a meal that sets you back less than $5!
Fei Fei Wanton Noodles, 72 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427789
Geylang Serai Market
Quite possibly Singapore’s Malay cuisine capital! The ground floor wet market purveys fantastic Halal meats and produce, while the upstairs hawker centre features a number of notable nasi lemak and briyani stalls.
Geylang Serai Market, 1 Geylang Serai, Singapore 402001
The best of the Joo Chiat’s many Vietnamese restaurants (just ask the working girls who hang out at the tables in between jobs); the pho is straightforward but delicious.
Long Phung, 159 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427436, Tel: (+65) 6344 2005, Facebook page
Go vegan with a meal at Loving Hut. This Joo Chiat restaurant offers salads, soups, Asian fusion dishes, weekday specials and takeaway!
Loving Hut, 229 Joo Chiat Road #01-01, Singapore, 427489, Tel: (+65) 6348 6318, www.lovinghut.com.sg
If you’re throwing a small get-together (don’t forget to social distance!) and don’t want the hassle of cooking a heavy meal, opt for appealing salads, sandwiches, cheese, desserts and other yummy bites. Platters, grazing-table packages and gifts are available, too.
LUSH Platters, 19 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427748, Tel: (+65) 87004150, www.lushplatters.com
Get your carb fix at this quaint little bakery in the Joo Chiat district, which bakes addictive praline brownies, handmade tarts and freshly baked loaves of crusty bread. There’s an option to customise a meal should you choose to order from the simple menu.
Micro Red House, 63 East Coast Road, #01-06, Singapore 428776, Tel: (+65) 8879 4890, www.microbakerykitchen.com
Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata
One of the best hawker stalls on the island for a plate of roti prata, this literal mom & pop stall (they are super sweet!) serves breakfast to Joo Chiat’s hungry hordes starting at dawn, and the lengthy queues soon follow. Doughy, delicious, and made fresh on the premises; get there early because they close by 1pm or as soon as the prepared dough for the day runs out!
Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata, 300 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 429356
One of Singapore’s top spots to cure a chocolate hankering, this spin-off from the main Awfully Chocolate franchise specialises in the humble chocolate cake, with several varieties to satiate any appetite. It offers gift sets and hampers, too.
Ninethirty by Awfully Chocolate, 131 East Coast Road, Singapore 428816, Tel: (+65) 6345 2190, www.awfullychocolate.com
A small-batch bakery, everything here is free from preservatives and artificial flavours. Its savoury loaves, croissants and sweet bakes are in demand, and things sell out between noon and 2pm, so come early to avoid disappointment!
Petit Pain, 315 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427566, www.petitpain.com.sg
This family-style European bistro is tops for a quick afternoon cuppa, after-work glass of wine, Sunday lunch with the whole fam or even a romantic meal for two on date night. For nights you want to stay home, Picotin does a great late-night takeaway pizza option. This spot made it to our kid-friendly restaurant guide, as there’s a bouncy castle on weekends (currently closed until further notice due to pandemic) to keep the kiddos entertained.
Picotin @ East Coast, 382 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427622, Tel: (+65) 6342 0382, www.picotin.com.sg
Almost every American in Singapore has found their way to this barbecue joint that serves up ribs, brisket, corn bread, and a wide array of American craft beers and wines. The big screen TVs almost make it feel like a stateside sports bar.
Smokey’s BBQ, 73 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427790, Tel: (+65) 6345 6914, www.smokeysbbq.com.sg
Things to See and Do in Joo Chiat
A lovely little park if you’ve got tinies in tow, especially if you’re a fan of old school swing sets. Renovated in late 2015, it’s also got some rad climbing structures.
Carpmael Park, 99 Carpmael Road, Singapore 429834
We’ve sung their praises already, but scoring a coveted appointment with talented mamas Jacky & Kat has only added to Joo Chiat’s so-hot-right-now status.
Expat Hair Studio, 422 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427642, Tel: (+65) 6444 7929, www.expathairstudio.com
Tired out after walking all around Joo Chiat? Swing by Feet Haven for a relaxing foot reflexology session. 60-minute body massages are now available, too!
Feet Haven, 136 East Coast Road, #01-01, Singapore, 428821, Tel: (+65) 6344 7311, www.feethaven.com
Heritage and Art Trail @ Katong Joo Chiat
The best way to discover Joo Chia’s intriguing street art is to walk around and snap a few pics for the ‘Gram. Simply download one of The Admin’s easy-to-use maps and get going!
The Admin, www.theadmin.sg
Joo Chiat Terrace Park & Ernest Zacharevic Mural
There’s a fun playground at this cute little green space that’s also got shaded benches and exercise equipment. Across the street is a cheeky mural painted by infamous Penang street artist Ernest Zacharevic, whom the BBC calls “Malaysia’s answer to Banksy”.
Joo Chiat Terrace Park, Corner of Joo Chiat Terrace and Everitt Road
Koon Seng Road
Joo Chiat’s most famous block is home to a cluster of pastel heritage shophouses decorated with super pretty Peranakan tiles. Watch out for tourists and wedding photographers!
Koon Seng Road, between Joo Chiat Road and Tembeling Road
A major destination within Joo Chiat that takes on a carnival-like atmosphere on holidays (care to get your fortune read?), this temple in Joo Chiat blends Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, and is home to a number of gorgeous statues.
Kwan Im Tng Temple, 62 Tembeling Road, Singapore 423586, Tel: (+65) 6348 0967, www.kuanimtng.org.sg
This two-storey shophouse in the Joo Chiat district sells stylish Peranakan costumes and traditional “kasut manek” (beaded shoes). In addition to the beading classes conducted there, you can also sign up for a private tour to learn about the different elements of Peranakan culture and try on Nyonya attire.
Rumah Bebe, 13 East Coast Road Singapore 428803, Tel: (+65) 6247 8781, www.rumahbebe.com
Get an authentic Nyonya experience at this hidden Joo Chiat gem. Rumah Kim Choo is a shophouse filled with Peranakan antiques and family heirlooms that date back to Singapore’s early years. Pick up beautiful Peranakan collectibles and the signature rice dumplings, sign up for one of its beading workshops or enquire about purchasing a Peranakan Baju Kebaya for your wardrobe.
Rumah Kim Choo, 60 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427784, Tel: (+65) 6741 2125, www.kimchoo.com
Did we forget something? Let us know if we missed your favourite Joo Chiat haunt! Email us at [email protected]
Lead image from Unsplash
Other images courtesy of Cat Socrates, RetroCrates, Singapore Trading Post, The Cheese Shop, Eng Seng Crab, LUSH Platters, Awfully Chocolate, NParks via Ministry of National Development & Rumah Bebe