Curious about things to do in Balestier and Novena? We’ve got you with this epic guide to two of our fave neighbourhoods.
The juxtaposition of Balestier and Novena is what makes Singapore unique. From swanky condominiums and posh hotels to heritage shophouses and old school eateries in the vicinity, you get the best of both worlds. A stone’s throw away from Orchard, these two neighbourhoods offer iconic local eats, hidden cafes, chill bars and fuss-free restaurants. Dive in!
Best food spots in Balestier and Novena
1. Da Luca Italian Restaurant
If you love Italian cuisine, head to this underrated gem for a classy meal. Prices can veer towards the high end (especially if you order off-menu specials), but the pasta plates are oh so worth it. Don’t miss out on the heavenly tiramisu to end your meal!
Da Luca Italian Restaurant, #01-19/21, Goldhill Plaza, 1 Goldhill Plaza, Singapore 308899
2. Chao Chao Gyoza
Obsessed with gyozas? Hit up this joint for dumplings in an assortment of flavours. We’re talking about ginger pork, curry pork, onsen egg and cheese, cabbage with sriracha, shrimp and crab stick, and more. You can get mixed platters to share, along with sides like potato mochi cheese and lotus root chips. For something more substantial, browse through the soba dishes, maki rolls and sashimi plates.
Chao Chao Gyoza, #01-05, Royal Square @ Novena, 103 Irrawaddy Road, Singapore 329566
3. Lechon Republic
We’re already dreaming about that satisfyingly crispy skin and juicy roasted pork from this no-frills Filipino eatery just opposite Novena Church. Pair your order of the signature lechon with sisig, kare kare, paksiw and more to fill up on good grub.
Lechon Republic, #01-09, Novena Regency, 275 Thomson Road, Singapore 307645
4. Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice
Chicken rice is ubiquitous and, dare we say, synonymous with Singapore – and Loy Kee has been serving this dish since 1953. One of the cornerstones of chicken rice has to be its fragrant aroma, and that pretty much seals the deal for us. Add a dash of chilli and dark soy sauce to the roasted chicken with a spoonful of rice – it’s perfection right there.
Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice, 342 Balestier Road, Singapore 329774
5. Loong Fatt Tau Sar Piah
For the uninitiated, tau sar piah is a flaky Chinese pastry that comes in two flavours: salty and sweet. Loong Fatt Tau Sar Piah has been serving these since 1948, so you know it ain’t messing around. The famous shop also offers butter cakes and cream puffs that will have you filled with nostalgia. Tip: be prepared to wait because the lines are always long.
Loong Fatt Tau Sar Piah, 639 Balestier Road, Singapore 329922
6. The Clueless Goat
This cosy coffee spot serves brews that will excite any coffee junkie – piccolo, anyone? These folks also offer typical brunch fare like eggs benny, waffles, avocado BLT sandwiches, and truffle fries.
The Clueless Goat, Goldhill Centre, 189 Thomson Road, Singapore 307631
7. Founder Bak Kut Teh
Another local favourite has to be bak kut teh. With 40 years of experience under its belt, Founder Bak Kut Teh delivers a mean bowl. Even celebrities have frequented the place – just check out the photo walls. Each peppery bowl is replete with tender pork ribs and has the right amount of kick to it that will clear your sinuses.
Founder Bak Kut Teh, 347 Balestier Road, Singapore 329777
8. Craftsmen Specialty Coffee
Craftsmen Specialty Coffee has all the makings of a great neighbourhood cafe. Sourcing single-origin beans from locales like Costa Rica, Kenya and Ethiopia, the joint offers quality brews. Food-wise, dig into buttermilk waffles topped with strawberries and bananas, brunch dishes such as croissant sandwiches, rosti and smoked salmon brioche, and plates of pasta.
Craftsmen Specialty Coffee, Goldhill Centre, 173 Thomson Road, Singapore 307623
9. Otto Sourdough Pizza & Espresso Bar
Tucked away in an unassuming location, on the eighth floor of a medical centre, this cafe is a hidden gem. If you love a good sourdough pizza, hit up Otto for pies topped with mushroom, salami, cajun shrimp or parma ham. You can also get pasta, breakfast dishes and sides like meatballs or burrata to share.
Otto Sourdough Pizza & Espresso Bar, #08-37, Novena Medical Centre, 10 Sinaran Drive, Singapore 307506
10. Nanta BBQ
Grab your oppa and head over to this Korean BBQ joint for a meaty feast slathered with cheese. On top of the usual meat cuts like pork belly, wagyu ribeye and short plate, the eatery also has a smorgasbord of classic Korean dishes waiting for you. We’re talking about beef bulgogi, spicy soups, japchae and more.
Nanta BBQ, #01-175 to 177, Goldhill Centre, 175 Thomson Road, Singapore 307624
11. Togather Kitchen & Bar
Merging different stalls under one roof, here’s where you can take your pick from burgers, sushi, oysters and local eats in one spot. Think of it as a slightly upscale hawker centre. It also makes for a decent drinking den with friends as the beers are served in towers.
Togather Kitchen & Bar, #01-05, 1 Goldhill Plaza, Singapore 308899
A local homegrown ice cream brand, Udders produces unique flavours like Bailey’s and bourbon (from the liqueur flavour range) and Snickers Mars honeycomb vanilla (for an unforgiving chocolate-y experience). We recommend pairing your creamy dessert with the fluffy waffles!
Udders, 155 Thomson Road, Singapore 307608
13. Nickeldime Drafthouse
Craft beer enthusiasts should add this beer joint to their list of breweries to check out. The place features plenty of international craft beers from Denmark, Germany and more on tap. Pair your drink of choice with sourdough pizzas – the perfect combo, if you ask us.
Nickeldime Drafthouse, #01-01, Regency, 275 Thomson Road, Singapore 307645
Best things to do in Balestier and Novena: Explore and stay
14. Church of Saint Alphonsus
You may know the iconic landmark as Novena Church, a Catholic church that hosts mass and devotion sessions for believers of the faith. It’s a gorgeous structure that sits right next to Velocity, so you can’t miss it.
Church of Saint Alphonsus, 300 Thomson Road, Singapore 307653
15. The malls
Located in a close cluster, the trio of malls in Novena is worth a visit. For gym bunnies, check out the extensive range of sports shops (hello, Decathalon!) at Velocity. Meanwhile, Square 2 is the perfect place for Japanese goodies with Daiso and Don Don Donki in the mix. Plus, United Square has a supermarket, food court, clinics, salons and a wide array of dining options – all the hallmarks of a good neighbourhood mall.
Oh, and if you’re in the Balestier area, the shiny new Shaw Plaza will stand out. Swing by for some playground time with the kiddos or fuel up at restaurants like Picolino, Menya Aoi, and Ontama Don. The building also houses a supermarket, plenty of activity studios for kids, and a cinema.
16. Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall
This museum provides insights into Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s work. Throughout the exhibition, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of his mission, which led to the success of the Chinese Revolution. Also, check out the veranda overlooking the serene garden entrance.
Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, 12 Tai Gin Road, Singapore 327874
17. Burmese Buddhist Temple
Just around the corner from the Sun Yat Sen Museum lies one of the oldest temples in Singapore. Enter to admire traditional arts and crafts from Burma, as well as beautiful pagodas and bridges.
Burmese Buddhist Temple, 4 Tai Gin Road, Singapore 327873
18. Lam Yeo Coffee Powder Factory
Coffee connoisseurs, be sure to check out this extensive collection of coffee beans from locales such as Brazil and Ethiopia. And if you don’t have a coffee grinder, these folks will do it for you on the spot.
Lam Yeo Coffee Powder Factory, 328 Balestier Road, Singapore 329760
19. Balestier Heritage Trail
Here at Honeycombers, we love heritage trails. That’s why they’re always on our list of things to do! So be prepared to catch Art Deco shophouses, pre-war terrace houses and more on this lovely trail by the National Heritage Board.
20. Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena
If you plan to do all the things listed above, a staycation is in order. This hotel is conveniently located next to Velocity and all its rooms are on high floors, boasting either city or lush nature views. Did we mention the infinity pool is located right next to the highest bar in Novena? Throw back a drink or two at Las Palmas, where tropical decor and chill vibes abound.
Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena, 99 Irrawaddy Road, Singapore 329568
21. Oasia Hotel Novena, Singapore
With five types of rooms to choose from – Club Room, Deluxe Room, Deluxe Room Plus, Superior Room and Suite Room – this is where you can unwind your body, soul and mind. Besides offering facilities like a swimming pool and sauna room, the hotel is perfect for a rejuvenating stay.
Oasia Hotel Novena, Singapore, 8 Sinaran Drive, Singapore 307470
And there you have it, the best food spots and things to do in Balestier and Novena!
[This article was originally published in 2020 and updated in 2023 by Benita Lee.]