The best authentic Chinese dim sum, gourmet coffee and even a fab manicure – it's all in Chinatown, of course
Whether you’re new to Singapore or curious about one of the city’s oldest and thriving neighbourhoods, you have to check out Chinatown. This kitschy tourist chic precinct is home to some of the most bustling (and our favourite) streets – from Ann Siang Hill and Club Street to Amoy Street, Duxton Hill and Keong Saik Road. Here’s our complete guide to Chinatown, with all the restaurants, bars, museums and spas you have to visit.
It’s impossible to go hungry in Chinatown. We’ve been keeping track of all the finest restaurants in the area. Check our guides to Ann Siang Hill and Club Street, Amoy Street, Duxton Hill and Keong Saik Road for more dining options.
Red Star Restaurant
We just have to start with our favourite type of Chinese food: dim sum. We like ours traditional at Red Star Restaurant, dated décor and pushcarts included. Dim sum aside, the menu’s authentic Cantonese fare includes fried yam pots filled with scallops, prawn and cashew nuts and crispy thin suckling pig skin served with seasoned jelly thin strips.
Red Star Restaurant, #07-23, Block 54, Chin Swee Road, Singapore 160054, p. 6532 5266.
Taratata Bistrot dishes out one of the most succulent beef bourguignon and meanest French onion soup in Singapore. For you corporates on the fly, their Express Lunch is served within a speedy 40 minutes.
Taratata Bistrot, 35A Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089142, p. 6221 4506.
Oxwell & Co.
You’ll be surprised to find that even in Chinatown, you can get a taste of proper English pub grub at Oxwell & Co. Nestled in a three-storey heritage shophouse, this British-inspired gastropub was founded by three Englishmen yearning for a taste of home. Expect traditional Brit-styled dishes and some tasty tipples to boot.
Oxwell & Co., 5 Ann Siang Road, Singapore 069688, p. 6438 7036.
Burnt Ends specialises in grilled items (as you’d expect) and Chef Dave agonises over the menu daily, so only the best and tastiest is served. 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.
Tong Ah Eating House
This Honeycomber has more than a few happy memories of chowing down on awesome zi char (Chinese homestyle cuisine) at this nostalgic golden oldie.
Tong Ah Eating House, 35 Keong Saik Rd, Singapore 089142, p. 6223 5083.
Tiong Shian Porridge
Porridge aficionados (and supper club members), Tiong Shian Porridge does excellent Cantonese-style congee and Chinese-styled fish carpaccio.
Tiong Shian Porridge, 265 New Bridge Rd, Singapore 088745, p. 6222 3911.
Koo Kee Yong Tow Foo Mee
People’s Park Food Centre is chock full of local food, but Koo Kee Yong Tow Foo Mee is our favourite (noodles with tofu stuffed with fish paste).
Koo Kee Yong Tow Foo Mee, #01-1114, Blk 32 New Market Road, Singapore 050032, p. 6535 5832.
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
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
This Japanese dining spot may be izakaya-inspired, but it looks nothing like what you have in mind. Colourful pop culture posters, concrete floors and walls, exposed light bulbs, IZY’s one edgy resto. When it comes to its menu, expect a good mix of traditional eats and contemporary creations, such as the classic katsu don and the ocean trout carpaccio with ponzu sauce. After you’re done with the chow, ask the staff about Cache – a secret lounge bar tucked away in the back.
IZY, 27 Club Street, Singapore 069413, p. 62203327
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 homemade focaccia, and an ash-cured ocean trout pastrami with English mustard cream and trout roe. We have to say, The maximalist tropical decor presses all of our buttons. Honeycombers even hosted a dinner popup here and we partied long after dessert!
Don Ho, 1 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089109. p. 6223 5001
Chinatown Food Street
Where can you tuck into signature homegrown dishes in one spot? At Chinatown Food Street, that’s where. Tasty delights worth trying include chicken rice, char kway teow (stir fried rice noodles), and roti prata (South Indian flatbread).
Chinatown Food Street, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335
Wanna grab a meal at a hawker centre? You’ve come to the right place. In Chinatown, you can hawker centre-hop your way to delicious grub. There’s Chinatown Complex food centre where you’ll find several Michelin Bib Gourmand award winning stalls and People’s Park Complex food centre across the street to get your mala hot pot fix.
At Hong Lim food centre nearby, expect more Michelin Bib award-winning food and some young hawkerpreneurs. Plus, y’all know we love Amoy street food centre and Maxwell that are also in this cultural precinct. Pro tip: Want hawker centre-like delicious food and prices but with the comforts of aircon? People’s Park Centre, an old-school mall opposite Chinatown Point mall, has a small but fab food court.
Drinks & Co.
Need to pick up a nice bottle of red to wine and dine that special someone? Or maybe you want to kick back with a glass of bubbly and nibble on bar bites and cheese platters? This bottle shop/cafe concept offers a fantastic variety of wine, Champagne, and spirits for the most discerning of drinkers. The Club Street outlet boasts a larger menu and outdoor seating area for patrons who wanna soak in the sights and sounds of the buzzy Ann Siang district.
Drinks & Co., 44 Club Street, Singapore 069421
Spend your Wednesday nights at Lime House – a Caribbean restaurant and bar that is totally sublime with its classic cocktails paired with delicious Caribbean meals.
Lime House, 2 Jiak Chuan Road, Singapore 089260, p. 6222 3130.
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.
Potato Head Folk, 36 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089143, p. 6327 1939
Smith Street Tap
In the mood for a craft brew but don’t want to skip out on fantastic hawker food? This hawker stall craft beer bar at Chinatown Complex offers an impressive number of draft beers – up to 12 at any one time. Here’s your chance to sample unique and uncommon brews, paired with char kway teow, hokkien mee, chicken rice, and more.
Smith Street Taps, #02-062, Chinatown Complex, 335 Smith Street Singapore 050335
Nanyang Old Coffee
Coffee lovers who’d rather more traditional coffee can grab a fortifying cup of kopi at Nanyang Old Coffee at South Bridge Road. Accompany your cup of kopi with some traditional sweets too.
Nanyang Old Coffee, 268 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058817, p. 6100 3450
Mei Heong Yuen
If you’re looking for another way to sweeten your day, Mei Heong Yuen has good traditional Chinese desserts and a range of shaved ice sweet treats to cool down.
Mei Heong Yuen, No. 63-67 Temple Street, Singapore 058611, p. 6221 1156.
Pek Sin Choon
Rather a spot of tea? Get your Chinese tea leaves such as Jasmine, Puer, Oolong, Tie Guanyin and more from Pek Sin Choon, one of the most established tea merchants in Singapore.
Pek Sin Choon, 36 Mosque Street, Singapore 059514, p. 6323 3238.
For old-school Chinese culture, it doesn’t get more authentic than Tong Heng. This bakery is best known for having the most exceptional traditional Chinese pastries and desserts in town, especially its signature egg tarts and mooncakes.
Tong Heng, 285 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058833, p. 6223 3649.
People’s Park Complex
If you’re looking for textiles, buttons, costume jewellery and the like, check out People’s Park Complex (level 2) – this place has a variety of shops and is an absolute DIY heaven.
People’s Park Complex, 1 Park Road, Singapore 059108.
Pagoda Street Market
Yes it’s full of touristy tat, but when you want a lion dance puppet for the kiddos, a giant paper lantern or good luck pineapple (or have a hankering for some fresh durian), this is where it’s at. Pagoda St Market is a spectacle after the sun sets and the lanterns switch on. We still love it.
Pagoda and Temple Streets. Open daily.
Yue Hwa Chinese Products
And of course, you can’t miss Yue Hwa Chinese Products on Eu Tong Sen Road; it’s your go-to emporium for all things Chinese – handicrafts, porcelain, furniture, herbs, and loads more.
Yue Hwa Chinese Products, 70 Eu Tong Sen Street Singapore 059805, p. 6538 4222.
Lastly for the kitchen buffs, Sia Huat occupies three shop spaces along Temple Street, and supplies top-grade kitchen tools to restaurants and hotels. Everything from Cole and Mason to KitchenAid can be found here.
Sia Huat, No. 7, 9 & 11 Temple Street, Singapore 058559, p. 6223 1732.
Working Class Coffee
Everyone deserves good coffee, connoisseur or not – and Working Class Coffee is making sure we all have the right to this. Taking over 1KS by Park Bench Deli at the Working Capitol, this pop-up bar at Keong Saik also stocks baked goods from Woodlands Sourdough like blondies, brownies, an amazing chocolate prune cake, banana bread and assorted tea cakes.
Working Class Coffee, 1 Keong Saik Rd, Singapore 089109
Max Coffee Bar
Blink and you might miss it! This mini cafe on Club Street is the perfect stop for the morning no-nonsense CBD crowd but that doesn’t mean that it has to look boring, does it? Bright blue walls with a tropical feel, get your coffee and croissant fix here or stay a while for avo toast and brownies. Word has it that an omakase menu is in the works!
Maxi Coffee Bar, #01-02, Emerald Garden, 31 Club Street, Singapore 069468
Helmed by experienced Japanese stylists, Covo on Keong Saik Road is our go-to salon for a fabulous pampering sesh for our tresses. The service, true to Japanese fashion, is impeccable, but what impresses us more is the stellar treatments. The cosy salon (‘Covo’ means ‘a hiding place’ in Italian – ’nuff said) offers a wide range of treatments – from haircuts and colour to digital perms and rebounding. Our tip? Go for the head spa treatment, where your hair will be washed with carbonated spring water to promote blood circulation and to add shine. Plus, it’s totally relaxing!
Covo, 43 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089147, p. 6221 4585
We can’t think of an occasion in life where nails don’t matter, so get your digits done at the cozy Nail Alcove. We love the Organic Wild Thyme Foot Scrub and the whimsical nail art they came up with (on the spot) that was perfect with the rest of the ensemble!
Nail Alcove, 59B Temple Street, Singapore 058604, p. 9828 9499.
Bath Culture Foot Therapy
If a foot scrub ain’t enough, the trained foot reflexologists at Bath Culture Foot Therapy specialise in ancient kneading techniques that are used in combination with herbal remedies.
Bath Culture Foot Therapy, 59 Temple Street, Singapore 058604, p. 6226 6289.
Looking for some pampering down time with your partner? AFond Spa is the place to go for a couple spa, full-body massage, facials and waxing.
AFond Spa, 263 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058812, p. 6836 0676.
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
Truefitt & Hill
This one’s for the boys. The legendary British barbershop – and the oldest in the world! – takes pampering to a whole new level with a slew of indulgent grooming services like hot shaves, haircuts, and shoe shine for modern gentlemen.
Truefitt & Hill, 9 Ann Siang Road, Singapore 069690, p. 6223 5263.
Mr Lee Yuan Dong
Speaking of barbers – Meet Mr. Lee, one of Singapore’s last streetside barbers. He’s been doing this for 55 years and his infectious smile and kind words will leave you with more than just a haircut.
Mr Lee is located behind Moosehead along Telok Ayer Street and he usually opens from 10.30am-4pm from Mon-Fri and 10.30am-3pm on Sat. To make an appointment, call him at 97712146
Fu Tak Chi Museum
The oldest Chinese temple in Singapore, Fu Tak Chi Museum now displays over 200 artefacts donated by former residents of Chinatown. The building is one of the area’s finest examples of restored architecture.
Fu Tak Chi Museum, 76 Telok Ayer St, Singapore 048464, p. 6580 2888.
Chinatown Heritage Centre
A hop away is the Chinatown Heritage Centre, filled with recreations from the late-19th century and early-20th century. This authentic slice of Singapore history is all the more fascinating due to the presence of glinting skyscrapers just a few blocks away.
Chinatown Heritage Centre, 48 Pagoda Street, Singapore 059207, p. 6224 3928.
More good stuff…
10 Dollar Club
Chinatown has more than its fill of sleazy karaoke joints. Family-friendly and incredible value for money, 10 Dollar Club kinda sticks out like a sore thumb. But $10 for 3 hours to sing your heart out and free flow (non-boozy) drinks? We’re so there.
10 Dollar Club, Level 3, 35A Smith Street, Singapore 058945, p. 6225 1231.
Reality room escape games are all the rage right now, and one of the most popular in Singapore, Exit Plan, is in Chinatown. We’re no Houdini, but the different rooms they have – Zombie Apocalypse, The Mad Scientist, and Dizzy Me – sound pretty enticing.
Exit Plan, #03-01, 279 New Bridge Road, Singapore 088752, p. 6536 4261.
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
Admire the architecture
Some of Singapore’s most iconic architectural structures are in and around Chinatown. From the protected heritage shophouses to the soon-to-be demolished Pearl Bank Apartments. If you’re lucky enough to have access to the building (like we were), do take a stroll in the winding corridors of this building before it’s too late. Tip: To get a bird’s eye view of Chinatown, head to the viewing gallery ($6) on the 50th floor of The Pinnacle@Duxton – the site of one of the oldest HDBs in the country that was redeveloped in 2009.
Double tip: Don’t have the time/inclination to head to The Pinnacle’s gallery, hop over to the fifth storey of the green-hued HDB complex on Upper Cross Street (above Hong Lim food centre) for a good enough (and free) view of the precinct.