The formerly sleazy Keong Saik road is buzzing with hip residents who have been drawing the city’s scenesters in droves
It’s hard to imagine that Keong Saik Road in Singapore, now buzzing with some of the city’s hottest tables including Restaurant Ember, Potato Head Folk, Esquina, was once a prominent red light district peppered with brothels back in the ’60s. With a new wave of exciting openings this year, we knew we had to revisit the gentrified street – in a spanking new, red-hot Audi A1 Sportback, no less – to map out the coolest residents in the ‘hood, from restaurants and bars to shops and hotels. You’ve gotta hit a few of these top picks (at least once!)
(Psst…to check out more cool videos, subscribe to the Honeycombers YouTube channel!)
Contemporary Australian restaurant Luxe has found its way to our shores, and its space is light and airy, perfect for brewing a convivial atmosphere within its walls. Mixes like the Palm Beach (a spritzer of Sipsmith Summer Cup, Riesling, pineapple gum, and hibiscus water) and the refreshing tamarind margarita make great aperitifs, and you’ll have an easy time picking out whatever catches your attention for lunch or dinner with the modest menu. Starters like the pork and fennel sausage roll with roast tomato sauce ($18) caught ours and we were sold. For mains, the uncomplicated Luxe Burger ($28) stole our hearts with its perfectly-cooked grass-fed beef patty (medium is definitely the way to go) topped with gruyere, pickles, tomato and lettuce.
Luxe, #01-04, 1 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089109, p. 6221 5615. Open Tue-Sat 9am to 10pm, Sun-Mon 9am-4pm.
Fill up on Caribbean classics like jerk carpaccio, Caribbean fish cakes, and red snapper escovitch. These guys also have an dedicated rum bar and a rooftop bar – all the better for your happy nights out! If you’re looking for your next favourite killer cocktail, order a Zombie, which has four types of rum, tropical liqueurs, fresh lime and fruits. Don the Beachcomber’s rule of two per guest applies here. Good luck, brave souls.
Lime House, 2 Jiak Chuan Road, Singapore 089260, p. 6222 3130. Open Tues-Fri 5pm-12am, Sat 3pm-12am. Closed on Mon, Sun and Public Holidays
Potato Head Folk
There’s no doubt that PTT Family’s venture in Singapore has taken Keong Saik by storm. Offering an awesome four-in-one dining concept, choose to dig into gourmet burgers at Three Buns (level one and two), lounge at reservation-only bar Studio 1939, or hit the rooftop garden and soak up the sights and sounds of Chinatown over a cocktail. Head down early or risk being put on a lengthy waiting list.
Potato Head Folk, 36 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089143, p. 6327 1939. Open Tue-Sun 11am–12pm. Closed on Mon.
Under the care of chef Alex (who’s perfected his culinary skills at fine establishments like Tippling Club and Open Door Policy), this award-winning restaurant at Hotel 1929 puts out modern European plates with an Asian twist like local duck leg taro with wild mushrooms and caramelized onions ($28), and market pork loin bell peppers with yellow chives and kimchi ($32).
Restaurant Ember, 50 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089154, p. 6347 1928. Open Mon-Fri 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-10pm, Sat 6pm-10pm. Closed on Sun.
Small space, small tables, small tapas dishes… but this sexy little tapas bar is big on many levels. The cosy, industrial-chic Esquina delivers exquisite plates with epic flavours, like pardon peppers with ponzu dressing, crispy baby squid, fresh oysters, an utterly delightful sea urchin and crab bisque, as well as a divine coral trout with fennel, caper and anchovy dressing. Don’t leave without ordering a couple of their desserts, including the “BBC” ($15), which comes with bananas, beer-flavoured ice-cream and caramel sauce.
Esquina, 16 Jiak Chuan Road, Singapore 089267, p. 6222 1616. Open Tues-Fri 12pm-2.30pm, Mon-Sat 6pm-10.30pm. Closed on Sun.
Carnivores, brace yourselves for a mouth-watering barrage of delightful meats cooked in scorching ovens (that can go up to a crazy temp of 700+ degrees). The resto boasts an 18-seater exposed counter top, so you can watch the chef in action just before you tuck in. On top of their meats, try specials like oven-roasted fennel, the pulled pork burger on brioche, and ice-cream and ginger for dessert. For pork loving people, the suckling pig, with crisp skin (enough to feed two!) is a must-have.
Burnt Ends, 20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore 088391, p. 6224 3933. Open Wed-Sat 11.45pm-2pm, Tue-Sat 6pm-late. Closed on Sun and Mon.
Vegan-friendly deli by day, cool bar by night, Afterglow is Keong Saik’s go-to spot for the health conscious. Pop by in the day for nutritious grub like deconstructed sushi bowls and raw zucchini linguine with walnut ‘meat’-balls, and chia seed puddings, or head down after work for innovative drinks concocted with fresh juices, herbs, flowers, and all things healthy.
Afterglow, 24 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089131, p. 6224 8921. Open Mon-Sat 12pm-10.30pm. Closed on Sun.
Known for dishing out some of the best burritos on the island, here’s one place that all the Mex lovers need to jot down in their black books. Build your dream burrito from a selection of proteins, like grilled chicken, pork, beef, and lamb, and toppings like assorted greens, guacamole, and Monterey Jack cheese, and chase it down with a bottle of craft beer.
Muchachos, 22 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089129. Open Mon-Thu 12-4pm & 6-10pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-10pm. Closed on Sun.
One of the five F&B concepts to open at co-working space The Working Capitol, this quirky dining joint serves up authentic Japanese small-plates like edemame hummus, cucumber-goma salar, tuna tartare and baos & bone marrows. In addition to these small dishes, dubbed “birdfeed”, Neon Pigeon also whips up some killer cocktails.
Neon Pigeon, 1 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089109. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-12am. Closed on Sun.
For a dose of authentic French fare, and some of the most value-for-money set lunches in town, Taratata Bistrot is your answer. Chef-owner Bertrand Raguin works hard at dishing out classic French dishes complemented with top-class hospitality. Find your French favourites like the Coq au vin (chicken raised in red wine with lardons, mushrooms and carrots) and Blanquette de veau (traditional veal stew served with pilaf rice).
Taratata Bistrot, 35A Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089142, p. 6221 4506. Open Tue-Fri & Sun 11.30am-3pm, Tue-Sun 5.30pm-12am.
Bread & Hearth
Keong Saik’s artisanal bakery-café offers a lip-smacking spread of handcrafted European-style bread, tarts, and sweet rolls. Tip: enjoy the pastries with a generous slather of the café’s homemade jam.
Bread & Hearth, 18 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089125, p. 6534 7800. Open 8am-6.30pm daily.
Party promoters, Sunshine Nation (who’ve brought us kickass events like the Garden Beats Festival) rolls out a party for your palate with DON HO Social Kitchen & Bar. Featuring an innovative fusion menu that blends Eastern and Western influences, expect novel menu items like sweet potato hummus with hazelnut dukkah, burnt onions and home-made focaccia, and an ash-cured ocean trout pastrami with English mustard cream and trout roe.
DON HO, 1 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089109. p. 6223 5001. Open Tue-Sat 6pm-12am. Closed Sun-Mon.
Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant
This unagi-specialty restaurant serves fresh charcoal grilled unagi imported directly from Japan. You know it’s fresh when the chef cuts, skewers and grills the freshwater eel (a.k.a. ‘unagi’) in the flesh upon you ordering your dish. If you can’t stand the sight of blood, there’s always a spot away from the ‘prime seat’. Find eel-ectric dishes like Una Tama Don (unagi and tamagoyaki on rice) and Hitsumabushi (unagi don with spices and dashi) on its menu.
Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant, 1 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089109, p.6222 0678. Open Mon-Sat 11.30am-3pm, 6pm-10.30pm.
The Daily Roundup
Nestled in The Working Capitol co-working space is this quaint café. Not only does it serve coffee, it also does authentic French crepes and galettes that are light and organic – perfect for the health-conscious. Have your sweet treats with a cup of earthy Papa Palheta piccolo latte to balance out the flavours.
The Daily Roundup, #01-02, The Working Capitol, 1 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089109, p. 9780 2920. Open Mon-Fri 8am-9.30pm, Sat 9am-9.30pm, Sun 9am-7.30pm.
The Populus Coffee & Food Co.
This self-proclaimed “gastro-cafe” serves Two Degrees North Co. coffee and contemporary dishes like Buckwheat Pancakes and Roasted Cod and Soba Noodle Salad. Besides its specialty coffee, it also has a range of filter coffee blends such as the Colombia Finca Micay and the Costa Rica La Pastora for chocolatey, nutty and caramelly tones. If you’re in for a cup of tea, find a variety of flavours on its menu. Oh, and did we mention its rad chrome, wood and brick interior for all your Insta pics?
The Populus Coffee & Food Co., 146 Neil Road, Singapore, p. 6635 8420. Open Mon & Wed 9am-7pm, Tues 9am-4pm, Thu-Fri 9am-10.30pm, Sat 9.30am-10.30pm, Sun 9.30am-7pm.
This flamingo-infused Hawaiian tropical poké bar and deli looks like something out of Ace Ventura’s wardrobe – another great Instagram opportunity – and the great vibes come with even greater food. Not related to pokéballs, poké is a a raw fish salad, commonly served as a starter in Hawaii. Loloku has five basic bowls on its menu, but you can opt to “Build Your Own Bowl”, and pick your favourite bits and pieces.
Loloku, 1 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089109, p. 6223 5001. Open 11.30am-2.30pm, 5pm-9pm daily.
Ah, the cure for hunger (no pun intended). Cure hosts a fine-dining experience without burning a hole in your pocket. On top of its chef’s tasting menu (which differs each year), Cure also has an a la carte menu from Monday to Thursday that includes Beef Tartar, Marrow and Flatbread, as well as Snapper, Mussel and White Asparagus. Wine pairing is also available with the tasting menu.
Cure, 21 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089128, p. 6221 2189. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-10pm, Wed-Fri 12pm-2pm.
Leading the new wave of hidden watering holes in Singapore, The Library is about as secretive as it gets – only folks who know the password of the week are allowed past the secret doors which are disguised as a large bookshelf. Psst… you can cheat and get the password from its Facebook page and Instagram, which is revealed every Monday. Try signature mixes like the Silver Screen and the Piscotheque (both $23).
The Library, 47 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089151. Open p. 6221 8338. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-1am.
31 Bar & Kitchen
Recently rebranded from Provence Le Restaurant to 31 Bar & Kitchen, this quaint French bistro has been steadily winning over diners with its menu of contemporary European small bites and a well-curated wine list. We hear even the folks from Potato Head Folk head over here to unwind!
31 Bar & Kitchen, 31 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089138, p. 6224 9141. Open Mon-Thu 330pm-12am, Fri-Sat 330pm-1am.
The Cufflink Club
Drinks here are cheeky, witty, and are completely addictive. If you need a stiff drink, get the Walking Dead (a twist on the zombie) with 13 types of rum, pineapple, apricot, passion fruit and lime and garnished with a bubblegum eyeball. For something – ahem – milder, try the Coke-Cane with a mix of 5 rums, a homemade cola reduction, fresh lime juice, and a sugar cane swizzle stick.
The Cufflink Club, 6 Jiak Chuan Road, Singapore 089262. Mon-Thu 5pm-1am, Fri 5pm-2am, Sat 6pm-2am. Closed on Sun.
AND THEN SOME…
The Working Capitol
It’s difficult to miss The Working Capitol — this massive facility is sprawled across five shop houses and occupies an old 1920’s biscuit factory. Adopting a minimalistic approach for their interior design scheme, they’ll provide co-working spaces, event spaces, private offices, a café and five other eateries. Talk about killing multiple birds with one stone.
The Working Capitol, 1 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089109, p. 6805 4050.
Trust the Japanese to know a thing or two about beauty fixes. This specialist salon from the Land of the Rising Sun that has been drawing a loyal crowd with its impressive range of services that includes colouring, curling, straightening, and even eye lash extensions (which is available separately at KJ Studio up on the second floor; call 6221 6209 to book an appointment).
Covo, 43 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089147, p. 6221 4585. Open Mon-Fri 9am-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-7pm.
The Hind Group’s second four-star boutique hotel, housed in a 1920s Peranakan-style building, is the very picture of heritage chic with its traditional-modern design aesthetic. There are 79 guest rooms, plus facilities like a complimentary 24-hour self-service snack bar and a 24-hour gym fitted with top-of-the-line equipment and TV-fronted cardiovascular machines.
Naumi Liora, 55 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089158, p. 6922 9000.
Consisting of five conservation shop-houses built in 1929, this cool boutique accommodation features 32 individually designed rooms decked in a mix of classic designer and retro vintage furniture. There are no two rooms are alike in this hotel, with everything from furnishing and beds right down to the clear glass bathrooms being unique. 1929 also offers 2 specially designed suites with outdoor baths set in tropical roof gardens that overlook the bright lights and bustling streets of charming Chinatown. Unique, hip and comfortable, rooms are stylish yet affordable.
Hotel 1929, 50 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089154, p. 6347 1929.
When you’re done walking around the area, pop by this spa for a good massage. Bodylite offers a range of spa treatments including a 30-minute back and shoulder massage, as well as foot reflexology for those aching soles. Pamper yourself with an hour of Wellbeing Body Massage and feel rejuvenated after.
Bodylite, 26a Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089133, p. 6323 3024. Open 11am-11.30pm daily.
Editor’s note: Naturally, the chance to cruise around Singapore in a super-fine Audi A1 Sportback also had us pulling up at far-out dining spots and cafes across town, so keep an eye out for more edgy dining guides – plus a look behind the scenes/wheel! The A1 Sportback’s smooth steering, minimalist and classy interiors, fab Bose sound system, petite-yet-sleek size (parking is a breeze!) make zipping around the city a real joy. Check out this post for a look behind the scenes/wheel and plenty of selfies!