Bugis is more than just Haji Lane. Step into Arab Street and check out the best food spots, shops and more...
When it comes to checking out the neighbourhood of Bugis, our to-do list is basically filled. We start by shopping at indie boutiques in the narrow alleys of Haji Lane before snapping street art for Instagram. Round it off with a cuppa at hipster cafes to refuel. Within the bustling district lies Arab Street, Kampong Glam’s colourful row of textile shops, Middle Eastern restaurants and quaint cafes. Expect plenty of popping patterns, happy hues and delicious eats around the area!
Arab Street guide: Best cafes and restaurants
A Muslim-friendly bar? We’ve got the lowdown. Yakoolzuna is home to Yakult-based slushies and mocktails. The OG is a refreshing concoction with lemon and lime. There are also signature mocktails made with 0% ABV spirits. Try an apple cider martini or a gin-based drink with cucumber and wasabi. Looking to keep it fuss-free? You can order yourself a glass of whiskey, vodka, or gin on the rocks. Sans the alcohol, of course.
Yakoolzuna, 23 Arab Street, Singapore 199722
2. Grill Ninety Nine
Got a hankering for a hearty meal as you’re exploring the district? Pop by Grill Ninety Nine for Western fare that’ll fill you up. Start with a bowl of homemade mushroom soup and freshly baked focaccia. There’s an array of appetisers you can order, but we prefer diving into the mains. You’ve got a selection of proteins including beef, fish and duck to choose from. Or carb-load with a plate of pasta.
Grill Ninety Nine, 142 Arab Street, Singapore 199828
You’ll scream for this ice cream store. Topped with marshmallows, cookie crumbles, and even cake bits, the treats come with all the fixings. The menu rotates with special weekly flavours, so you’ll be surprised every time. But if you prefer sticking to the classics, the Overrun Chendol is a signature and can be found permanently on the menu. There are also pints available for you to take something home with you.
Overrun.Sg, 29 Arab Street, Singapore 199728
If you’re not feeling up for bubble tea, could we interest you in some teh tarik instead? Tarik is known to serve one of the best in town. Savour well-brewed tea with the rich creamy flavour of milk that’s mixed together to frothy perfection. It’s affordable and comes in several flavours like spiced tea, ginger tea, and even iced Milo if you’re not a big tea fan.
Tarik, 92 Arab Street, Singapore 199788
5. Msquare Acai
We love acai. Packed with antioxidants and fibre, it’s a nutritious treat that also delivers flavour. Top it with fresh fruits and you’ve got yourself a guilt-free treat. No matter what, you can’t miss out on homemade granola. The crunchiness offers a great texture that goes well with the smooth acai. Totally addictive!
Msquare Acai, 118 Arab Street, Singapore 199813
6. Fika Swedish Cafe and Bistro
Need a Swedish meatball fix? Give Ikea a pass and head over to the end of Arab Street for Fika. Here, you’ll find a small but serviceable menu of Swedish classics like Plankstek, Pytt i Panna and Smorgasbord. With its whitewashed walls and light-filled interiors, the homey cafe is a breath of fresh air amidst the many Mediterranean eateries within the area. Don’t leave before trying the Swedish pancakes served with ice cream and topped with fresh berries.
Fika Swedish Cafe and Bistro, 257 Beach Road, Singapore 199539
7. House of Kebab
This kebab spot offers authentic Lebanese and Turkish fare. Nothing like hearty shawarma to perk you right up! We’re speaking from experience, of course. Also, don’t skip the hummus – it makes for a good protein-filled starter.
House of Kebab, 21 Arab Street, Singapore 199844
8. % Arabica
% Arabica hails from the Land of the Rising Sun. This popular coffee house attracts a snaking queue of thirsty cool cats to the heritage enclave. The beans are sourced from all over the world from countries such as Ethiopia, Brazil and Japan, depending on the season. A popular choice? The Spanish Latte. Mixed with condensed milk, it balances out the acidity with a mellow sweetness. Oh, and the magic happens at the back of the cafe, so feel free to take a peek at the roasting process before you grab a bag of beans to bring home.
% Arabica, 56 Arab Street, Singapore 199753
9. All Things Delicious
As the name suggests, this charming bakery-cafe whips up bakes that are nothing short of delectable. While they aren’t your traditional rounded scones, the triangular, soft Scottish ones are no less scrummy. Get them with toppings like gula melaka and orange cranberry calling out for liberal smears of salted butter. These folks also dish out hearty breakfast plates, pasta and rice bowls. Which are all plain delish!
All Things Delicious, 34 Arab Street, Singapore 199733
10. Tabbouleh Lebanese Cafe and Restaurant
Decorated with mosaic lamps and red tablecloths, the Lebanese restaurant has a quaint and cosy vibe. Its menu is packed with a list of Middle Eastern and Western fare. Think lamb kofta with hummus, halloumi cheese wrap, charcoal-grilled meats and more. For sharing, get a mezze platter with hummus, babaganoush, labneh, and fattoush salad.
Tabbouleh Lebanese Cafe and Restaurant, 54 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199470
11. Ratu Lemper
Before you explore the vibrant alleyways of Kampong Glam, fuel up at this snack shop. It specialises in different types of lemper (a savoury Indonesian snack made with glutinous rice and meat floss). Flavours range from beef rendang and mutton satay to tuna and spicy chicken, plus a plant-based version for vegetarians. There are also classic Malay desserts like ondeh ondeh for sugar fiends!
Ratu Lemper, 31 Arab Street, Singapore 177930
Arab Street guide: Where to shop
12. Sifr Aromatics
Walk by this small indie studio and you’ll find your curious nose guiding you into it. The niche perfumery explores the world of scent, offering small batches of refreshing fragrances and custom aromatics. Take your time to discover its curated selection of in-house perfumes, as well as wooden soy candles and infused balms.
Sifr Aromatics, 42 Arab Street, Singapore 199741
13. Kin Soon
A treasure trove of artsy things, wholesaler Kin Soon is known for its range of ribbons in all kinds of colours and textures, including satin, grosgrain, organza, velvet, paper and wired ones. You can also get other DIY supplies like buttons, appliques, tissue papers and floral wrappers in the store. Perfect for craft enthusiasts!
Kin Soon, 36 Arab Street, Singapore 199735
14. Turkish lamps
How pretty are Turkish lamps? Get one (or two) for your home at DWiz, which is known for amazing ceramic works and handcrafted mosaic lamps inspired by different cultures of Anatolia. Many carpet stores stock these lamps and other home accessories, too. Just check out the beautiful display at Sarvan’s Carpets! We couldn’t resist snapping a picture.
DWiz, 53 Arab Street, Singapore 199750; Sarvan’s Carpets, 49 Arab Street, Singapore 199746
When it comes to shopping for fabrics, nothing beats this quaint street full of history and culture. You can’t miss Achakzai Trading, a Persian carpets gallery that’ll catch your eye with its vibrant pink walls. Meanwhile, Royal Fabrics is your one-stop-shop for traditional Asian fabrics including silk, linen and cotton in a variety of colours, with Middle Eastern- and South Asian-inspired designs. If you’re looking to explore silk fabrics, look for the pros at Mahaco Impex. For more Asian fabrics, textiles and sewing supplies, check out Teng Joo Textiles further down the stretch.
Achakzai Trading, 94 Arab Street, Singapore 199790; Mahaco Impex, 51 Arab Street, Singapore 199748; Royal Fabrics, 84 Arab Street, Singapore 199780; Teng Joo Textiles, 102 Arab Street, Singapore 199798
So the next time you find yourself on Arab Street, let this be your guide to the best food and shops!