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 was once a prominent red light district peppered with brothels back in the ’60s. With a new wave of exciting openings this year (and bidding adieu to some of our faves), Keong Saik never fails to give us a reason for revisiting the gentrified street. Whether you’re in Chinatown or looking to try something new during your lunch break or in the mood to hang out at a rooftop bar, here are some of Keong Saik’s coolest residents, from the hottest restaurants and bars to hotels and wall art…
FOOD & DRINKS
Potato Head Singapore
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. Psst… block your Sundays for Potato Head Singapore’s new weekend bash — Sundown Social — bringing you closer to a tropical paradise with free-flow spritzes and spirits, as well as barbecued chicken and grilled beef skewers.
Potato Head Folk, 36 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089143, p. 6327 1939
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
At this Peruvian resto, only two types of things are served: ceviche and slushies. Okay, and a couple of cocktails thrown into the mix. Its menu features five types of ceviche: choose from scallop, tuna, shrimp, swordfish and yellowtail. Great for dining with the crew, dishes are served on sharing platters that keep you full – without the lethargy. And what’s a gathering with friends without boozy treats? Order up a table of adult slushies!
Sluviche, 17A Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089124, p. 6224 0212
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 caught ours and we were sold. For mains, the uncomplicated Luxe Burger 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
This Michelin-starred resto whips up French cuisine with an Asian twist, helmed by Head Chef, Sun Kim, who’s earned his stripes in Waku Ghin and Tetsuya’s in Sydney. The highlights on this menu? Titillate those taste buds with a wagyu beef tartare served with pear kimchi, egg jelly and rice, or savour Hokkaido scallops with endive, miso and squid ink crackers. But for a real treat, try the slow-cooked grass-fed beef short rib topped off with parsnip and oyster mushroom.
Meta, 9 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089117, p. 6513 0898
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
999.99 (or Five Nines if that’s too much of a mouthful), named after the purest form of gold, certainly looks the part. However, Five Nines aims to present diners with luxury ingredients at modest prices. The restaurant bills itself as modern European, but showcases seasonal flavours and techniques from both Europe and Asia. What we do find particularly attractive is that, despite offering traditionally expensive dishes like lobster gratin and beef tenderloin, none of the items on the restaurants menu are over $30.
999.99, 29 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089136. p. 6221 7098
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
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
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
Brought to you by Park Bench Deli (our favourite sandwich cafe in our Telok Ayer ‘hood), 1KS is for the worker bee. Located at a co-working space, 1KS is great for casual business meals. On the menu are hearty sandwiches like Cheese Steak and Turkey Panini, as well as avocado and healthy peanut butter toasts.
1KS, 1 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089109
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
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
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
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
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
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 salad, 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
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.
AND THEN SOME…
Cool wall art
Commissioned by The Working Capitol, Ripple Root turned boring white walls at Keong Saik Street into playful backdrops filled with their own take on floral motifs of the traditional Peranakan tiles located around the area. According to the duo, the project was “to inject lively fun into classical Keong Saik Street heritage.” And boy, did they manage to do just that! For more wall art inspo, check out our Honeycombers Wall Crawl series.
Location: Next to LOLOKU, 1 Keong Saik Rd, 089109
Duxton Plain Park
If you need a break from the hustle and bustle, Duxton Plain Park is peaceful respite for residents and visitors alike. Flanked on both sides by the backs of shophouses, it’s a narrow and curved park between New Bridge Road and Yan Kit Road in the Chinatown precinct. It is a unique luxuriant spin on the typical shophouse back alley and gets its meandering shape from the site bring an old railway line.
Duxton Plain Park, Keong Saik Rd, Singapore 089140
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
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
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