The neighborhood of Tiong Bahru is one of the oldest in Singapore, yet has undergone a rejuvenation in recent years. In the past few years, various chic cafes have opened all over the area, serving brunch, desserts, and coffee. At the same time, old local favorites have remained strong, resulting in the East-meets-West, tradition-meets-innovation hipster characteristic of today’s Tiong Bahru. Here we explore the area’s 10 best restaurants.
The Orange Thimble
Situated next to the popular Tiong Bahru Baker is The Orange Thimble, a small, cozy art cafe that embodies the creativity and hipster vibe of the Tiong Bahru neighborhood. Their food is tasty, but it is the setting which sets The Orange Thimble apart. The cafe is divided into five sub-sections, including a small art gallery displaying artwork by local artists. The Orange Thimble is relatively unknown by both locals and tourists, making it a great spot to spend a relaxing afternoon with friends.
This family-run cafe has a casual ambience, with its modern industrial-inspired decor, and the food follows this philosophy with its simple but fresh ingredients. Flock Café serves pastas as well as assorted gourmet sandwiches and paninis, such as the classic Eggs Sally and the popular prawn and avocado panini. All-day-breakfast is also on the menu, making this establishment a popular place for brunch. Their coffee is freshly roasted and its aroma wafts through the cafe, giving it a relaxed, homey feel.
Located among other high-end restaurants at Tiong Bahru, Ikyu is a Japanese restaurant that oozes sophistication and simplicity. Headed by a former Marina Bay Sands executive chef, the establishment serves traditional Japanese dishes in a chic setting. Rather than use excessive sauce and spice to add overwhelming flavors to the dishes, minimal added flavor is used, allowing the ingredients’ inherent subtle taste to manifest. For a classy lunch, romantic dinner, or simply a taste of rare delicacy, Ikyu is the perfect choice.
Loo's Hainanese Curry Rice | | Jonathan Lin/Flickr
On the other end of the price spectrum is Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice, a small shop located just a five minute walk from Tiong Bahru MRT station. Heavily imbued with local flavors, this tiny shop makes authentic Hainanese food at a budget price, making it a favorite among locals. As it is a hawker stall type joint, the environment admittedly lacks the aesthetic appeal of the trendier cafes in the neighborhood, but it is a great way to experience genuine Singaporean culture. Don’t let the lengthy queue put you off; it’s definitely worth the wait.
Steamboat, or hotpot, is a popular cuisine in Singapore, where uncooked food such as fresh meat, dumplings and noodles are put into a boiling pot of soup to cook. Le Le Pot offers this fun, unique experience, with its insight to Singaporean culinary culture, at a reasonable price. Steamboat is ideal for large groups, as it allows you to try a greater variety of food, and to experience the hectic excitement of steamboat. The laksa soup base at this restaurant is a popular choice, as its distinctly Singaporean flavor adds to the local character of the establishment.
Elegance and comfort, deliciousness and style. Situated on the top floor of the Wangz Hotel, The Rabbit Stash overlooks Chinatown on one side and Tiang Bahru on the other, offering a spectacular view regardless of day or night. The international cuisine is inspired by Singaporean flavors, giving familiar dishes a local twist that will surprise and delight. The menu changes according to seasonal availabilities, but the choices adhere to the philosophy of ENSOPHI – Exotic, Nostalgia, Soil, Ocean, Pristine, Heritage, and Impression. The changing menu spices things up, showcasing the endlessly creative blends of Singaporean and Western foods.
No food guide to Singapore is complete without a food center, also known as a hawker center, as street food offers an authentic taste of local Singapore. The Tiong Bahru Food Center is one of the cleanest and most well-organized food centers in Singapore, making it less chaotic and less daunting for the non-locals to explore. This particular establishment features mostly east Asian and south-east Asian foods, with few stalls serving Indian food.
Amidst dozens of dessert cafes in the neighborhood, Drips Bakery Café stands out with its impressive variety of cakes and tarts, sandwiches and salads. Just like the genuine, homey atmosphere of the shop, the food served is made with natural ingredients rather than artificial colors or flavors. Alongside classic fruitcakes and desserts such as tiramisu and lemon meringue, Drips Bakery Café also serves creative fusion buns, with exotic fillings such as tuna and lime or sambal prawn. This comfortable and relaxed cafe is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
As you may have guessed from its name, PoTeaTo is a restaurant that specializes in potatoes and tea. This simple fare is given fabulous new twists in a surprisingly wide range of menu items, from standard sandwiches with a generous portion of potato chips, to the quirky tofu potato cakes and sweet potato fries. The cafe also offers an exciting selection of tea, including classics such as Earl Grey or Chamomile and unconventional flavors such as Oolong Berry and Persian Ginger Apple for the adventurous tea-lover.
The last restaurant on this list perfectly embodies the hipster energy of Tiong Bahru. Open Door Policy is reminiscent of a relaxed pub crossed with a classy restaurant, with its chic urban decor mixed with vintage streaks. It exudes a buzzing ambiance that makes dining there fun and casual. All their dishes are made with fresh, natural ingredients and are richly flavored. Their menu is a revolving one that changes every month, so chances are that the culinary experience will be unique every time you visit, but it’s a guarantee that it will be an enjoyable one.