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!)
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Jason Atherton’s famed Keong Saik Snacks has been renamed The Study, but fret not – sister speakeasy The Library (see below) is still open for business. The new menu, designed to read like a book, blends local and classic British fare, with dishes like iberico pork and foie gras Scotch egg, earl grey salmon and baby artichokes, and hot doughnuts with Chantilly cream. Drinks are impressive: there’s a great selection of craft beers, wines, and intriguing cocktails (all at $23 a pop) such as the Float like a Butterfly, which features The Library’s tequila soda with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Every detail in the restaurant is well thought-out; you won’t even miss the old space.
The Study, 49 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089153, p. 6221 8338. Open 12-230pm, 6-10pm daily.
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 sausage roll with fennel salad ($18) and the handmade buffalo mozzarella ravioli ($22) 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 melted cheese and spicy mayo.
Luxe, #01-04, 1 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089109, p. 6221 5615. Open Tue-Fri 12pm to 12am, Sat 9am-12am, Sun 9am-4pm.
You’re probably wondering Lollapalooza has anything to do with Ann Siang’s mad popular dining temple Lolla. Well, the answer is yes. This snazzy “freestyle” restaurant is indeed by the same folks, and its menu changes daily based on what’s seasonal and fresh. Dishes are cooked in a wood-fired oven using apple wood (smokin’), and won’t be limited to small plates. Oh, and for those who have missed Kaixo (we loved its sous-vide organic eggs), you’ll be happy to know that chef Issachar Lee of the now-defunct Spanish restaurant is back to helm Lollapalooza’s kitchen.
Lollapalooza, 1 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089109, p. 6221 3538.
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 daily 12pm-12am. Closed on Mon.
Potato Head Folk
There’s no doubt that PTT Family’s latest 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 Sufian Bin Zain (who’s perfected his culinary skills at fine establishments like Iggy’s and Waku Ghin), this award-winning restaurant at Hotel 1929 puts out modern European plates like bouillabaisse, carpaccio of petuna ocean trout, and slow-cooked Angus short rib. Desserts are just as sophisticated — the Champagne jelly and deconstructed fig cheesecake make absolutely sweet ending to the faultless dishes.
Restaurant Ember, 50 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089154, p. 6347 1928. Open Mon-Fri 1130am-2pm; 630pm-9.30pm, Sat 630pm-9.30pm.
Small space, small tables, small tapas dishes… but this sexy little tapas bar is big on many levels. Started by renowned British chef Jason Atherton, 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 lovely tiramisu with mascarpone mousse, chocolate soil and coffee jelly.
Esquina, 16 Jiak Chuan Road, Singapore 089267, p. 6222 1616. Open Mon-Fri 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm; Sat 6pm-10.30pm.
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 Tue 6pm-late; Wed-Sat 11:45am-2pm; 6pm-late. Closed Sun and Mon.
Vegan-friendly deli by day, cool bar by night, Afterglow is Keong Saik’s newest spot for the health conscious. Pop by in the day for nutritious grub like deconstructed sushi bowls and mango coconut, and chia seed puddings, or head down after work for innovative cocktails concocted with fresh juices, herbs, flowers, and all things healthy.
Afterglow, 24 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089131, p. 6224 8921. Open Mon-Thu 12-11pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-12am.
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 by The Dandy Partnership 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. Its bar program has been growing dramatically with major bartenders like Symphony Loo and Sam Wong, so don’t be afraid to challenge them to whip you up a unique bespoke cocktail. Or instead try Symphony’s personal favourite, the “Had’da Smoke”, a herbal, yet sweet cocktail with whiff of rosemary. She assures us it’s both beautiful and yummy!
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-owners Bertrand Raguin and Philippe Nouzillat and restaurant manager/sommelier Marie-Agnes Labopin work hard at dishing out classic French dishes complemented with top-class hospitality.
Taratata Bistrot, 35A Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089142, p. 6221 4506. Open Tue 530—1030pm, Wed-Thu 1130am-230pm & 530-1030pm.
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 Mon – Sun 8am-930pm.
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 neighbouring British-style bistro, The Study. Try signature mixes like the Silver Screen and the Piscotheque (both $23), but if you’re sharing, go for the Hot Tub Thyme Machine ($90).
The Library, 47 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089151. Open p. 6221 8338. Open daily 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). Mention Honeycombers and get a Wash & Blow Dry for $28 (u.p. $35) – perfect pit stop before hitting the cool bars and restaurants in the area!
Covo, 43 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089147, p. 6221 4585. Open Mon-Fri 9am-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-7pm.
The Buckhouse Refinery
Get your hands on some stylish new threads at multi-label boutique, The Buckhouse Refinery,. which houses an extensive collection of international labels, ranging from iconic Aussie label, Mink Pink, to edgy Thai export, Lalalove London. Gents, check out the collection of stylish kicks from SomeAreTheives and other cool labels like AMH and Era Ora.
The Buckhouse Refinery, 18 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089125. Open Mon-Sat 11am-9pm.
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.
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!