One of the quieter heartlands, Hougang is home to a historic park, craft beer pubs and an IG-worthy architectural gem.
With buzzing neighbours like Serangoon and Punggol, Hougang might seem a little quiet at first glance. Sure, this North Eastern town might not have monstrous malls or numerous dining enclaves but if you’re looking for something laidback, this hood is right up your alley.
Ponggol Nasi Lemak Centre
Purveyors of nasi lemak, this one’s for you. The aromatic rice, crispy chicken wings, crunchy ikan bilis, smoky otah and dollop of spicy chilli served on a brown oil paper is the epitome of Singapore’s hawker culture. The nasi lemak is always a hit and feel free to add on some classics sides, including fried fish, luncheon meat and fish cake.
Ponggol Nasi Lemak, 965 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534721
Selegie Soya Bean
After a savoury, hearty meal at Ponggol Nasi Lemak Centre, nothing hits the spot like a good bowl of sugary dessert. Hougang might not have a giant mall that offers countless dessert parlours but it’s home to Selegie Soya Bean. Known for its silky smooth beancurd aka tau huay, this old-school dessert will satisfy your sweet tooth. Here’s a pro tip: Get a couple of fried dough fritters (you tiao) to dip into your beancurd – there is nothing more satisfying than breaking the porcelain-like tau huay with a golden brown you tiao.
Selegie Soya Bean, 1002 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534740
A stone’s throw away from Kovan MRT, this laidback cafe offers brunch classics. We are talking about eggs benedict, croissants and sammies. For a neighbourhood spot, the craft beer selection isn’t too shabby as they have over 10 beers categorised into different types such as hoppy and sweet.
Lola’s Café, 5 Simon Road, Singapore 545893
Ice Edge Cafe
This cafe serves up typical Western fare like pastas and pizzas but their gelato has to be the highlight. All made in-house, the flavours range from the usual to the unusual: pistachio, durian, cotton candy and salted egg. Pair it with the buttermilk waffles (also made in-house) or you can tuck into desserts like chocolate croissants and French toast.
Ice Edge Cafe, 2 Kovan Rd, #01-10 Simon Plaza, Singapore 548008
Sprouting up all over Singapore, Nakhon Kitchen’s first branch was actually in this heartland circa 2008. This no-frills Thai joint is big on zesty flavours, including tom yam soup, phad Thai, and mango salad. Just be prepared to wait as a snake-like queue starts to form by 6pm.
Nakhon Kitchen, #01-341, 212 Hougang Street 21, Singapore 530212
Walking into this whimsical cafe is like falling down the rabbit hole, with its Alice-in-Wonderland decor and treats. Chef-owner Yvette Chua who was formerly at Bo Innovation, a three-Michelin star restaurant in Hong Kong, brings life to her artisanal bakes such as her unicorn cakes and rainbow-hued macarons. Don’t miss out on the fluffy waffles. Pair it with pandan ice cream and gula melaka sauce, you won’t regret it.
Hatter Street, #01-333, 212 Hougang Street 21, Singapore 530212
Soon Soon Teochew Porridge
Try going local for breakfast at this porridge joint. A staple meal among the Teochew dialect group, it boasts a hearty spread of side dishes such as salted vegetables and braised beancurd.
Soon Soon Teochew Porridge, 13 Simon Road, Singapore 545897
Nectars & Vine
Nectars & Vine doesn’t offer very much in terms of aesthetics or decor, but short of swigging beers at a coffee shop, this hole-in-the-wall dive bar is where you’ll find the cheapest beers in Serangoon. You can go for the reliable Heniken or Hitei or you can try cult labels like Brewlander (yay, local) and Yardley Brothers. It isn’t equipped with a kitchen, but the staff are happy to hook you up with a ‘zi char’ menu that you can use to order in some grub.
Nectars & Vine, 752 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534623
Tucked away in Kovan, this izakaya bar offers a range of premium sakes for you to choose from. Alternatively, you can opt for the $55 Asahi beer tower, a bang-for-your-buck choice. Feeling peckish? Dig into the donburi bowl or curry bento set alongside yakitori and gyozas. Opened till 2am on Saturdays, expect to kanpai all night long!
Tachinomiya, Block 211 Hougang Street 21, #01-285, Singapore 530211
Interestingly enough, Punggol Park is actually located right smack in the heart of Hougang. What was once a hotspot at the now-defunct Wild Oats bar is now a serene space for fitness lovers. Take a stroll around the five-hectare lake during the golden hour or cycle through the lush greenery.
Punggol Park, Hougang Ave 10, Singapore 538768
Japanese Cemetery Park
Don’t be spooked by the largest Japanese cemetery in Southeast Asia. Built in 1891, it is prettier than scary with its pink floral archways that are reminiscent of sakura season in Japan. Serving as a burial ground for nearly 1,000 Japanese civilians and soldiers from the pre-war years, this place has strangely turned into an IG-friendly spot. While posing for the ‘gram, please do be mindful of the graves.
Japanese Cemetery Park, 22 Chuan Hoe Ave, Singapore 549854
Singapore is filled with interesting facades, from rare brutalist buildings to swanky apartments and futuristic mosques.Hougang has something to offer as well. Home to possibly the only HDB flat in Singapore that has all the colours of the rainbow painted over, architectural buffs should add this flat to their checklist.
Block 316 Hougang Ave 7, Singapore 530316