The Bugis-Bras Basah district is more than hip Haji Lane. Step into Arab Street next door, and check out the best places to eat, drink, shop and see...
When it comes to checking out the Bugis-Bras Basah district, hitting indie boutiques in the narrow alleys of Haji Lane, snapping street art for Instagram and sipping a cuppa coffee at hipster cafes is nothing new. Within the bustling area lies Singapore’s Arab community, aka Arab Street. Not only is it lined with cool cafes, Mediterranean restaurants and quaint shops offering quality fabrics, traditional clothing, perfumes and more, it is also home to one of the city’s major landmarks: the Sultan Mosque.
FOOD & DRINKS
Craving for a hot plate of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine? The gorgeous interiors of Nasrin Restaurant (pictured top) will have you grab a table and survey its menu of mouth-watering appetisers, signature dishes and chef specials, including Turkish faves like kebabs.
Nasrin Restaurant, 31 Arab Street, Singapore 177930
This cake gem is perfect for the sweet-toothed. Serving fresh bakes six days a week, chocolate lovers will fall head over heels with its smooth Nutella cheesecake and Nutella brioche. For some local fusion, grab a slice of its pandan Gula Melaka cake or its Thai milk tea cheesecake. A word of warning: its bakes sell out fast.
Comestival Desserts, 31 Arab Street, Singapore 177930
When it comes to comfort food, Working Title has it down pat. The burgers here are the real stars – think beef or chicken patties wrapped in turkey bacon, smoked duck with Emmental cheese and large portobello patties served with blue cheese dressing. Wash it all down with a chunky chocolate and banana or cookies and cream smoothie, and you won’t want to leave this food paradise.
Working Title, 48 Arab Street, Singapore 199745, p. 6298 8721
All things delicious
Like its name suggests, bakes at this charming bakery-cafe are nothing short of delish. While they aren’t your traditional rounded scones, these triangular, soft Scottish ones are no less scrummy, with toppings like Gula Melaka and orange cranberry calling out for liberal smears of salted butter.
All things delicious, 34 Arab Street, Singapore 199733, p. 6291 4252
Fika Swedish Café & 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 Toast Skagen, Pytt i Panna, and Tunnbrödsrulle. With its whitewashed walls and light-filled interiors, the homey café is a breath of fresh air amidst the many Mediterranean eateries within the area. Don’t leave before trying the much-raved about lingonberry cheesecake!
Fika Swedish Café & Bistro, 257 Beach Road, Singapore 199539
Longing for Aussie vibes? Inspired by Australian cafés, The Hangar is simply the finest! The cafe slow-roasts its own specialty coffee, originating from farms in the region, for the extra kick to perk you up. Tuck into its sweet and savoury menu bites, such as the homemade granola with Greek yoghurt and the signature big breakfast, where the ingredients used are fresh and locally sourced, and also made from scratch. Yup, none of those out-of-a-Heinz-can beans!
The Hangar, 25 Arab St, Singapore 199724, p. 6291 0127
Two words we never thought we’d hear: Halal bar. The rooftop “speakeasy” serves up bespoke mocktails in Arab Street. To create your own, pick your base from juice, tea, sparkling drink and kombucha, then your desired fruit, and finally the kicker: mint, spice, herb, sour, or hot. Otherwise, select from its signatures like the Gurindam which contains apple cider vinegar, demerera, cinnamon, butterscotch beer, lemon juice and vanilla ice cream.
Atap, 48 Arab Street, Level 5, Singapore 199745
Sofra Turkish Cafe & Restaurant
For over 15 years, Sofra has been dishing out authentic Middle-Eastern fare at its restaurant on Beach Road. What sets this joint apart from many others in Singapore’s Arab quarter is their all-Turkish kitchen staff. Pop by for a quick bite and try the signature Sofra kebab, which adds walnut, eggplant and cheese into the mix for a little extra texture.
Sofra Turkish Café & Restaurant, 100 Beach Road, Singapore 189702. p. 6291 1433
Walk by this small indie aromatic 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 scents and custom aromatics. Discover its curated selection of in-house perfumes, as well as wooden soy candles, infused balms and aromatic jewellery.
Sifr Aromatics, 42 Arab Street, Singapore 199741
Definitely a treasure trove of artsy things, wholesaler Kin Soon is known for a range of ribbons in all kinds of colours and textures, including satin, grosgrain, organza, velvet, paper and wired ribbons. You can also get other DIY supplies like buttons, appliques, tissue papers and floral wrappers in-store.
Kin Soon, 36 Arab Street, Singapore 199735
Can’t get enough of those gorgeous Turkish lamps? Get one (or two) for your home at DWiz, known for amazing ceramic works and handcrafted mosaic lamps inspired by different cultures of Anatolia. Head over for more fascinating home additions, and if you’re lucky enough, you might snap up some special discounts!
DWiz, 53 Arab Street, Singapore 199750
When it comes to shopping for fabrics, nothing beats this quaint street full of history and culture. Make Royal Fabrics (84 Arab Street) your one-stop shop for traditional Asian fabrics, including silk, linen and cotton fabrics in a variety of colours, and Middle Eastern and South Asian-inspired designs. If you’re looking to explore more silk fabrics, Mahaco Impex (51 Arab Street) are the pros in this area. For more Asian fabrics, textiles and sewing supplies, check out Teng Joo Textiles (102 Arab Street) further down.
Mahaco, 51 Arab Street, Singapore 199748; Royal Fabrics, 84 Arab Street, Singapore 199780; Teng Joo Textiles, 102 Arab Street, Singapore 199798
Built in 1824 by the first sultan of Singapore, Sultan Hussein Shah, this magnificently grand mosque is the biggest in Singapore. The prayer hall can accommodate up to 5000 people in mass prayer. Besides taking in the grand architecture of the mosque, make the time to walk around the Arab Quarters where the mosque is located. Allotted by Raffles to the sultan and made to be a Muslim settlement, the zone attracted Malays, Sumatrans and Javanese, as well as traders from what is now eastern Yemen to become one of Singapore’s popular historical places.
Sultan Mosque, 3 Muscat Street, Singapore 198833