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 also home to some of our favourite bars and hot new restaurants we’ve been eyeing. Ready to explore? Here’s our complete guide to Chinatown, with all the restaurants, bars, museums and spas you have to visit.
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. Open for breakfast/lunch on Mon-Sat 8am-3pm, Sun and Public Holiday 7am-3pm, dinner 6pm-10.00pm daily.
Famous for its old-school Hong Kong Dim Sum, Tak Po makes all of its dishes by hand with the freshest ingredients. Once you’re done with the savouries, order the crispy yam dumplings for the thinnest and flakiest crust, as well as the pandan creamy custard buns.
Tak Po, 42 Smith Street, Singapore 058954, p. 6225 0302. Open 7am-10.30pm daily.
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. Open Mon-Fri & Sun 11.30am-3pm, Mon-Sun 5.30pm-12am.
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. Open 12pm-12am daily.
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. Open Fri-Sat 11.45am-2pm, Tue-Sat 6pm-late. Closed on Sun and Mon.
Closing on 14 February 2018
Helmed by Taiwan-born Chef Andre Chiang, the eponymous restaurant serves up the chef’s unique take on Southern French cuisine. While his menu is constantly evolving, the one constant is his ‘Octaphilosophy’, which ensures every dish contains each of these elements: Unique, Pure, Texture, Memory, Salt, South, Artisan and Terroir. This impressive restaurant is also ranked number 14 on the list of world’s best restaurants in 2017! Seats are filling fast due to its impending closure so it’s fastest fingers first for the restaurant’s swansong at S$800++.
Restaurant ANDRE, 41 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089855. p. 6534 8880. Open for dinner Tue-Sun 7pm-10pm. Open for lunch Fri & Wed 12pm-3pm. Closed on Mon and alternate Sun.
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. Open 7am-10pm daily.
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. Open 8am-4am daily.
Koo Kee Yong Tow Foo Mee
People’s Park Cooked 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.
Spend your Wednesday nights at Lime House – aCaribbean 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. Open Tues-Sat 5pm-12am. Closed on Mon, Sun and Public Holidays.
Potato Head Folk
Offering a diverse four-in-one dining concept, the sister outlet of the famous Bali beach club lets you choose from 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.
Potato Head Folk, 36 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089143, p. 6327 1939. Open Tue-Sun 11am–12pm. Closed on Mon.
The Loft Café
Have a craving for waffles with your coffee? The Loft Café will solve your problems with a variety of sweet treats, specialty coffees and teas. Grab a friend or two for a catch up sesh there too!
The Loft Café, 268A South Bridge Road, Singapore 058817, p. 6221 2103. Open Tue-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm. Closed on Mon.
Free The Robot
Quirky café-by-day, bar-by-night; right down the street from us is Free The Robot. On slow days, we like to pop by for breakfast to tuck into the massive breakfast platter with all the comfort food fixings. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to meet their mascot pup, Bailey!
Free The Robot, 118 Telok Ayer St, Singapore 068587, p. 6438 1836. Open Tue-Sat 8.30am-4.30pm. Closed on Mon and Sun.
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. Open Mon-Sun 7am-10pm.
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. Open Tue-Sun 12pm-9.30pm. Closed on Mon.
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. Open Mon-Sat 8.30am-6.30pm.
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. Open 9am-10pm.
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. Open 9.30am-10pm daily.
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. Open Sun-Fri 11am-9pm, Sat 11am-10pm.
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. Open Mon-Fri 8.30am-6.30pm, Sat 8.30am-5.30pm, closed on Sun and Public Holidays.
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!
PERK ALERT: New customers, enjoy 20% off all services except fringe cut, make-up, shampoo and blow dry and hair setting. In addition, to celebrate COVO’s fifth anniversary in November 2017, you can take part in a lucky dip, and receive an additional gift if you are one for the first 200 customers.
COVO, 43 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089147, p. 6221 4585 (open weekdays 9am-8pm, weekends 10am-7pm)
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. Open 12pm-12am daily.
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. Open Mon-Fri 11am-9pm, Sat, Sun & Public Holidays 10.30am-6.30pm.
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. Open 10am-10pm daily.
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. Open 9am-8pm daily.
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. Open 2pm-1.30am daily.
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. Open Sun-Thu 12pm-9pm, Fri & Sat 12pm-11pm.