Oh the ever hip area of Tiong Bahru, which was as as charming as it could be before the infiltration of, ecks, hipsters. Not necessarily a bad thing, we’ve got ourselves a neighbourhood that is a medley of old and new, with the ability to evoke a sense of nostalgia topped with a tinge of modern eccentric.
This also meant for the intricate weave of old and new eateries in the area, of which I’ve compiled a list of 12 best eats, which boasts of quaint joints that were there long before time and hip new eateries that adds that extra excitement to the area.
12. Tiong Bahru Bakery
Does Tiong Bahru Bakery really need any introduction? Famed for their croissants that are oh-so-flaky, and artisanal bakes that will put a smile on anyone’s face.
Pair that with serious coffee business and we’re good to go. The only downside? It’s price. But I guess Singaporeans are willing to pay, since they’ve opened up outlets in Orchard and Raffles City.
Tiong Bahru Bakery: 56 Eng Hoon Street, #01-70, 160056 | Tel: 6220 3430 | Daily: 8am – 8pm | Website
11. Plain Vanilla
Cute and definitely quaint, Plain Vanilla Bakery also holds workshops for children. It has a rather rustic charm, with potted plants, bicycles and wood finishing to harness all of that countryside beauty it exudes.
Other than being charming, their bakes and cupcakes have made their way into our hearts, seeing how it has expanded to three other outlets on our little island. Famed for their fluffy cupcakes that have found the right balance of sweetness, do look out for their monthly specials that promises an eclectic mix of flavours.
10. Forty Hands
How could Forty Hands not be on this list, considering how it’s one of the pioneers in infiltrating Tiong Bahru’s neighbourhood with all its hipster mannerism.
Created by Harry Grover in collaboration with Spa Esprit Group, Forty Hands serves up serious coffee business by partnering with Five Senses Coffee, using green coffee beans that are sourced from all over the world working closely with growers, then roasts it locally.
Other than that, they serve a cheeky selection of food ranging from 40 Hands Falafel toastie to their critically acclaimed red bean bun. Modern yet with a quirky taste of locality, Forty Hands remains a cafe I’d love to be in.
Forty Hands: 78 Yong Siak Street Singapore 163078 | Tel: 62258545 | Website
Opening Hours: Tues – Sun: 8am – 7pm (closed mon)
$1 Oysters are all it takes to lure me to Teru. But if you really do need any more reasons, the shiok maki and its aburi selection will definitely have you salivating more than you should.
Teru Sushi: 50 Tiong Bahru Road, Singapore 168733 | Tel: +65 6842 8484 | Website
8. P.S Cafe Petit
There’s really nothing surprising for P.S Cafe to appear on this list, what’s with their seductive heap of truffle fries and decadently sinful black out cake.
While this started as a Petit Cafe and houses only very limited seats, you’ll be glad to know they’ve expanded well and you can have more than just a take out.
P.S Cafe Petit: No.41 Blk 78. Guan Chuan St, S 160078 | Telephone: +65 9226 7088 | Website
7. Ah Chiang’s Porridge
Charcoal boiled porridge that offers simple comfort is what Ah Chiang’s porridge is. Famed for their exceedingly umami congee and extensive menu, Ah Chiang’s Porridge is an eatery you don’t want to miss out on, especially on those cold rainy day. Psst, they have an outlet in Toa Payoh too.
Ah Chiang’s Porridge: 65 Tiong Poh Rd, Singapore 160065 | Tel:+65 6557 0084
6. Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry
Contesting our hip Tiong Bahru Bakery is Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry, a true-blue paradise for nonya kuehs and pastries. It’s not really a fair competition anyway, with both bakeries specialising in different bakes.
The eggtarts from this pastry shop remained one of the most eccentric. The egg tart ($0.90) was rather delectable, with its hard biscuit-like pastry texture and its gelatinous yellow filling. This egg tart also somehow managed to make me feel nostalgic about the tarts sold in my primary school canteen years ago.
Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry: Blk 55 Tiong Bahru Rd #01-39, Singapore 160055 | Tel: 6324 1686 | Tuesday to Sunday 1000-2030, Closed on Mondays
5. Loo’s Hainanese
Curry Rice ($3.00) + Assam fish ($3.50)
Probably one of curry rice lovers’ ultimate favourite, Loo’s Hainanese can be considered the poster child for hainanese curry rice. In the industry for more than 50 years, and situated at such a prime location, it is no doubt many people know of them. Loo’s Hainanese has a legion of fans, a snaking queue during lunch time a spectacular taste to back it all up.
Pork chop has a substantial layer of meat coated with a crispy fragrant batter. The curry is of a thicker consistency and its predictably sweet but carries a slight zest.
The curry isn’t the type to flood the whole plate so it looks less messy. Instead, it is just drizzled on top of the ingredients. Would be better with more curry sauce which you can probably request for. Also, the extra assam fish alone costs $3.50…ouch.
Loo’s Hainanese: Seng Poh Road, 71 Seng Poh Rd #01-49, Singapore 160071 | Tel: +65 6225 3762
Opens: 8am – 2.45pm (closed alt. Thurs)
Inspired by a yakitori-ya in Osaka, Japan, Bincho is accessible through a dingy back door but it’s interior is nothing near sleazy. All I’m going to reveal is its’ sleek and albeit industrial-like decor, will wow you away as you find a seat in its quaint environment.
Soft Bone Shio Yakitori ($10)
Famed for yakitori, Bincho grills up some pretty dope skewers. The cartilage skewer retains the charred aroma and is well seasoned.
Grilled Ox Tongue Lunch Set ($38) & Delica Japanese Red Wine ($12)
It’s rare to get Japanese wine so when I do see the option, I’ll jump at it. Musky and sweet, it’s a rather refreshing change from the robust red wines.
Lunch sets are now available for dinner on Sundays as well, and their donburis start from $25++ onwards, with a wide variety of choices like the bara chirashi, omu rice and many more, of which I will return to conquer them all. Oh, and each set comes with karaage, appetiser, pickles, soup and dessert.
Making an informed decision is hard when all I really want is everything, I went with the grilled ox tongue lunch set and dare I say, no ragrats (regrets). The ox tongue is fragrantly charred while the insides remains a soft texture, pairing well with the piquant mustard. The grilled vegetables gives extra texture and helps to cleanse the palate in between streaks of happiness.
Bincho at Hua Bee: 78 Moh Guan Terrace #01-19 Singapore 162078 | Telephone: +65 6438 4567 | Website
3. Open Door Policy
Open Door Policy prides itself to only serve wholesome food that is 100% gluten free and dairy food. Creative and delicate, Open Door Policy promises a gastronomical experience with their beautifully plated dishes that are exceedingly delectable.
Open Door Policy: 19 Yong Siak Street Singapore 168650 | Telephone: +65 6221 9307 | Website
2. De Classic Golden Spoon
The owner of De Classic Golden Spoon, Mr. Alfred, has been in the industry for over 30 years. He started De Classic Golden Spoon since 2009 and after 3 to 4 years of operation, the lease was up and the landlord saw that the business was booming and tried his hands at it.
However, It didn’t survive under new management. Fast forward, Mr. Alfred was back to manage the reopened restaurant.
Crab Bee Hoon (65/kg)
The dish is well seasoned and the bee hoon is simmered in the right amount of doneness, without losing the essence of the crab. It is extremely concentrated yet remaining light all at once. The bee hoon is slightly al dente, or firm to the bite.
The crab is huge, exceedingly fresh and tender, locking in the marine taste. The flavours combine together to form a really well balanced dish that is worth every penny of yours.
De Classic Golden Spoon: 62 Seng Poh Ln, Singapore 160062 | Tel: +65 6536 2218
I must admit that I haven’t noticed the existence of IKYU prior to this tasting as I’d usually drop by the area for mostly coffee in the hipster Tiong Bahru neighbourhood, widely known for its retro cafes and occasional brunch.
Lunch Set Assorted Seven Kinds of Nigiri ($28.80)
I’m in nigiri heaven, where everything melts away and true satisfaction is all I feel. For that price, I must say it’s a steal.
There is a Japanese philosophical way of life known as Wabi Sabi, accepting and embracing the imperfection in all things. The interior decor is deliberately designed to allow guests an unstifling dress code, but instead to enjoy the simplicity of the moment, served with sincerity from the heart and be at one with the food. Prepared to be seduced.
IKYU: 5 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168643 | Tel: 6223 9003 | Website
Related guide: 24 Best Telok Ayer Eateries in Singapore