Timbre+, situated where an old historic coffee shop used to stand in Ayer Rajah, is now a home for Singapore’s culinary talents.
The great thing is, a large majority of the old hawkers that have had 30-40 years of history with the old coffee shop are still here, now working alongside a new generation of hawkers, F&B entrepreneurs, and chef-owners.
This 24,000 sq. ft. urban food hall offers a wickedly diverse selection of food, ranging from your local Singapore favourites to Cebuano cuisine, to restaurant-grade food, all set at affordable prices.
With graffitied shipping containers and vintage Airstream travel trailers scattered around, the Gastropark emanates eccentricity and vibrancy – a sight you definitely don’t get to see at your average hawker centre.
All this was conceived by Singaporean urban arts group, RSCLS, who collaborated with chef-owners and hawkers, transforming the space into a collective urban work of art.
The hawker stalls are open from 6am to 6pm, while food trucks and “restaurants” are open from afternoon till late at night.
From Wednesday to Saturday nights, the stage lives and breathes with live performances featuring talented local musicians.
So, if you’re looking to experience the full unconventional character of Timbre+, I’d recommend coming during the late afternoon with a group of pals.
Grab as many types of dishes from the different stalls to share amongst yourselves. (It’d be a big waste if you came here and tried only ONE dish, right)
Settle down in front of the stage for their evening music sets and maybe get some drinks from the Self-service Bottle Shop. They serve boutique and less mainstream beers as well, so you go ahead and indulge your inner hipster soul.
Here’s a list of stalls you could look out for while you’re there:
1. Portico Platos
Portico innovates their dishes using only the best seasonal and fresh ingredients all served in a simple, yet homely manner. I’d recommend coming here if you’re looking for a small plate tapas experience.
My favourite dish by Portico was surprisingly, a fruit. Compression of Rockmelon, Jamon Serrano, Herb Pesto Dressing ($10). Long name, but amazing flavours.
Man, this one really caught me off guard. The first thing that kicked me right in the taste buds was the sweetness and juiciness that just flooded my mouth, then came the wonderful blend of savoury garlic flavours from the ham and pesto sauce.
Sweet, salty and packs a punch. This is a definite must-have when visiting Portico.
The cool thing about Portico is that their Paellas are cooked in bulk right in front of guests in a ginormous pan, but that means that there’s a limited number of Paellas they can serve. So QUICKLY GRAB ONE FOR YOURSELF. Luncheon Portion Paella ($9)
2. Wong Kee
One of the two new generation hawkers residing here at Timbre+, armed with her father’s 52-year-old recipes and cooking methods, Kelly Wong serves up some stunning noodles, my friend.
With less alkaline water and no preservatives, her dishes are healthier, fresher and even tastier.
If you want to get a taste of her cooking, do come early as she closes at 6PM, and on some days runs out of stock an hour or two before closing.
Side note: She sells a cup of Ribena at 80 cents only! I’m telling you, everything at this stall is super hua.
I fell in love with her Beef Brisket Spinach Noodles ($5.50) (an item that’s a rarity these days) at first bite. With more than 20 ingredients incorporated and left simmering in a pot all day, the brisket is dripping with flavours and is so succulent, I actually was quite sad when I finished it.
Beef brisket might be a bit jelat to some of us, but her spinach noodles provides a nice, clean balance to the dish, so all is fine.
Her Char Siew Dumpling Tomato Noodles ($4.50) was something I had never encountered before at a hawker stall. The noodles, along with her tomato sauce are made with real tomatoes. I like how the sweetness of the char siew strikes a warm contrast to the sour of the tomato flavours.
Another awesome thing is that it comes with soup dumplings the size of a baby’s fist.
This is also another must-try at Wong Kee.
3. Two Wings
Honestly though, one just isn’t enough. Chef-owner Jeremy Loh offers us a taste of nostalgia with his 1970s fried chicken made with a 40-year-old secret recipe passed down from his granduncle.
His secret frying method removes that pesky layer of fat that we normally see in the average chicken wing, so his Original chicken wings ($8.90) are extremely crispy, less greasy and healthier. And you know what that means. It means you can have more.
These larger-than-normal chicken wings are also extremely tender and soft, with his secret flour combination that locks all the flavours in.
Recommended: Get your wings with a set that comes with fries (french, sweet potato, or spam), and drinks (sour plum or coke).
Salted Egg Chicken Wings ($8.90). Do I even need to elaborate on this? It’s fried chicken, it’s salted egg sauce. Just go at it already!
Using the most humble and Singaporean spices, Chef-owner, Zhang Deming fuses different cultural concepts together to bring out an amazing flavour in his dishes.
Interesting concept dishes like his rice bowls with Onsen egg are his own Singaporean rendition of Japanese Donburis.
What really stood out to me at KUSH was his Lamb Chop ($34 for 3pcs).
Although seemingly conventional, once in your mouth, the Singaporean flavours permeating those chops hit you like a freight train.
The flavours somehow evoke a sense of nostalgia in you and I think the best way to describe this sensation is heritage, with a touch of modernity.
His Charcoal Licked Skewers are another thing to look out for. All his skewers also bring out the most Singaporean flavours from the simplest food items. My favourites are the Enoki bacon ($2.80), Asparagus Bacon ($2.80) and Chicken Skewers ($2).
5. Iskina Cebu
In Singapore, the Filipino cuisine is altogether hard to come by, and there’s one right here at Timbre+.
Bringing you authentic Cebuano cuisine, chef-owner Chris Calledo, born and raised in Cebu, wants you to experience his food culture and dining experience through their signature Lechon (Filipino roasted suckling pig).
Tip: grab some beers to pair along with his food and go enjoy some live music at the stage area.
This dish is called Liempo ($6 for the set meal), pork belly roasted over a charcoal stove and manually monitored to deliver crisp and juicy perfection.
The skin is really crunchy, sort of like Keropok, and the meat itself is soft fatty heaven. I think it pairs really well with their spice infused rice (I call it “rice with a kick”).
Their Spicy Belly Lechon ($10 for the meal), laced with spices that really sit on your tongue and linger on, is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
This dish, marinated while it rotates and cooks around a charcoal fire, wicks in all the flavours of Cebuano spices, giving you a full introduction to Cebuano food.
6. Big Bern’s American Grill
The former owner of the Botak Jones franchise, Bernie Utchenik brings to Timbre+ some genuine American comfort foods with hints of Southern Louisiana.
Anyone ever try Gumbo before? Because Big Bern serves up some mean Gumbo. You know you’re going to get a true taste of Louisana when the stall you’re ordering from sells Gumbo.
Another dish originating from Louisiana is their Po’ Boy Sandwich. Big Bern’s served me up some Cajun Chicken Po’ Boy ($12), with a side of fresh homemade coleslaw and fries with spices.
Tender chicken, a lovely blend of spices and a distinct barbeque flavour, mmmm. Watch out though, the bread can be a little difficult to cut through.
Timbre+ really is a whole new ballpark in Singapore’s food scene. With restaurant-grade food and hawker foods all conveniently situated in this new urban hangout in the heartlands, it’s a food hall you have to visit because it really is just that cool.
Expected Damage: $3 – $50 per pax