A perennial fave, this Tiong Bahru neighbourhood guide has everything you need for cool cafes, stores and restos.
Truth: we can’t get enough of Tiong Bahru. Exuding old-school charm within its quiet streets, this hip heritage neighbourhood is where you’ll find some of the island’s best cafes, restaurants, and stores. We point you in the right direction with our guide to Tiong Bahru.
Tiong Bahru Bakery
You simply can’t think of Tiong Bahru withoutTiong Bahru Bakery coming to mind – the two are as iconic as each other. A top spot for French pastries, the staple here is the wonderfully flaky and light butter croissant, but we never leave without the pain au chocolat either. If you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, you have to give the kouign amann a go. We’ll take two of each please!
Tiong Bahru Bakery, 56 Eng Hoon Street, #01-70, Singapore 160056, p. 6220 3430
PS.Cafe Petit Tiong Bahru
This cosy little tropical-themed bistro ranks high as one of our top spots for quiet afternoon chilling. Smaller than its other outlets and with limited seating, its menu is a takeaway one, but can also be enjoyed on site. Grab a seat near the leafy feature wall, order a glass of wine and watch the world go by.
PS.Cafe Petit Tiong Bahru, Block 78 Guan Chuan Street, #01-41, Singapore 160078.
The cupcake craze may be well over but big players like Plain Vanilla ain’t going anywhere. One of the OGs on the scene, the secret to its success is its emphasis on quality – only the finest of ingredients like French butter, pure Madagascar Bourbon vanilla and bittersweet Belgian chocolate are used. No shortcuts, no preservatives. Pick from bestsellers like peanut butter fudge, chocolate and strawberry lychee. We not-so-secretly come here for the fantastic collection of homewares and kitchenalia too.
Plain Vanilla, 1D Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168641
Tiong Bahru Market
Eggs benny, French pastries and speciality coffees not doing it for you? Keep it local with a hearty meal at Tiong Bahru Market instead. This hawker institution is home to some of Singapore’s best local food, including chwee kueh, prawn noodles, roast meat and even a Michelin Bib Gourmand chicken rice stall.
Tiong Bahru Market, 30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore 168898
You can’t miss this lovely little spot just next to Tiong Bahru Cafe. Hot new restaurant Merci Marcel is making waves, and we’re happy to ride the currents. Light and bright, there’s plenty of greenery here, with a trendy mix of rattan, gold and pastel interiors. Bring your gal pals and head here for photo-worthy brunch, or make it a date night for dinnertime – do yourself a favour and order the Australian grass-fed angus beef and ceviche of red snapper. Both promise an explosion of divine flavours. What’s truly addictive? The signature dish of Ravioles de Royans with Tête de Moine cheese. Trust us. And this could be just as dangerous: Merci Marcel sells artisanal French cheese and wine to take home, and has its own little lifestyle store. Check out the super chic collection of Parisian sunglasses, chocolates and enamelware.
Merci Marcel, 56 Eng Hoon Street, #01-68, Tiong Bahru, Singapore 160056, p. 6224 0113
This Tiong Bahru old timer wins hearts with its classic all-day breakfasts, sandwiches, salads, and gourmet coffee and teas. If you’re looking for vegetarian options, they have just what you need too. Start your day right with a breakfast set, or stuff yourself silly with a hearty pasta – just don’t say we didn’t warn you about the post lunch coma.
Flock Cafe, 78 Moh Guan Terrace, #01-25, Singapore 162078, p. 6536 3938.
Long before the onslaught of neighbourhood cafes, there was Forty Hands. These guys are one of the pioneers of the coffee movement in Singapore, so you know you’re getting quality brews here, made with freshly roasted beans. Brunch is the main food of the day, with smashed avo on toast, homemade granola, and toasties as the favourites of regulars.
Forty Hands, 78 Yong Siak Street, #01-12, Singapore 163078. p. 6225 8545.
If you’re all about the sweet life, you need to check out Drips Bakery. The patisserie has everything from cakes and scrummy tarts to cookies and scones, served with homemade jam. Pair it with the cafe’s signature cold drip coffee to ease the sweetness.
Drips Bakery, #01-05, 82 Tiong Poh Road, Singapore 160082
Blink and you’ll miss Bincho: a 70-year-old mee pok stall by day and trendy Japanese restaurant by night. Enter through the back door and you’ll find yourself in a chic, dimly lit brass-plated bar. Venture further in and the confusion begins; you’ll arrive at a kopitiam-style dining room. Three dinner set menus are available, with a focus on tori (chicken), as well as ala carte options.
Bincho at Hua Bee, 78 Moh Guan Terrace, #01-19, Singapore 162078, p. 6438 4567
Coq & Balls
You won’t find fancy brunch here but cheekily named Coq & Balls’ pub grub is actually good. Chow down on pizza, pasta, fried rice or light bites of popcorn chicken and crispy pork. Wash it all down with a beer – the selection includes wheat, draught, lager, stout – and sink into the infectious good vibes of this place.
Coq & Balls, 6 Kim Tian Rd, Singapore 169246, p. 6276 6609
The sushi at this sleek Tiong Bahru establishment are things of beauty, and we like them slightly-charred, aburi-style. If you like a variety of modern Japanese plates to go along with your exquisite, bite-sized morsels, order creations like the wagyu tsukune and hotate truffle carpaccio, as well a platter of assorted premium sashimi.
IKYU, 5 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168643, p. 6223 9003.
Sin Hoi Sai Seafood Restaurant
Sin Hoi Sai recently got the thumbs up from the Michelin Guide Singapore 2016, and rightfully so too. This seafood resto serves up a plethora of delicious delicacies such as crabs and abalone, or go straight for their signature salted egg yolk and spicy crabs. But don’t forget to order other tasty bites such as the fried mantis prawns and chilli oil fish fillets.
Sin Hoi Sai Seafood Restaurant, Block 55, Tiong Bahru Road #01-59, Singapore 160055, p. 6223 0810
House of Peranakan Petit
Peranakan cuisine doesn’t get more authentic than this! Helmed by Chef Bob Seah who is a Baba himself, the restaurant serves up homely Nyonya dishes such as ayam buah keluak, itek sioh, and claypot crab soup. We’re also huge fans of the pulut hitam – the coconut milk tart on the black dessert looks too beautiful to be eaten!
House of Peranakan Petit, 42 Eng Hoon St, Singapore 169785, p. 6222 1719
The Tiong Bahru Club Singapura
We thought we didn’t need another retro-style eatery, but turns out we were wrong. Here, the nostalgic theme works like a charm, as it offers dishes spanning Singapore’s various cultures. There’re Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Eurasian cuisines – which are getting increasingly hard to find all in one place – and they all pack a punch. If you haven’t already, be sure to get yourself acquainted with the Eurasian favourite: Devil’s Curry.
The Tiong Bahru Club Singapura, #01-88, 57 Eng Hoon Street, Singapore 267208, p. 6438 0168.
Helmed by patissier, Tricia Lim, who interned at Dominque Ansel’s Bakery (the brains behind the Cronut) post-graduation, this clean, minimalist café rolls out a pretty selection of cakes, cookies, brownies, croissants, cinnamon rolls, macarons, and all sorts of other sweet (and some savoury) treats that make our knees go weak.
Whisk Café, #01-15, 58 Seng Poh Road, Singapore 160058.
Shop & Do
A mandatory part of visiting Tiong Bahru is a stop at one of our fave book stores in Singapore, super cool Books Actually. Its shelves stock a wide range of literature, including classics and ones by up-and-coming local authors. More than books, the store also has a quirky mix of souvenirs in the back, which includes antiques and random vintage odds and ends. Say hi to the furry friends in the store, and pick up a good read from the book vending machine at its doorstep.
BooksActually, 9 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168645, p. 6222 9195
Woods in the Books
Just next to Books Actually is Woods in the Books, an indie store specialising in picture books for all ages. Take a trip through memory lane, with books like Tintin, Meg & Mog and The Hungry Caterpillar, or shop cool knick-knacks and toys for your shelfie.
Woods in the Books, No. 3 Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru, Singapore 168642
Nimble and Knead
At first sight, you’d hardly believe this is a spa as its industrial interiors places it right at home with the nearby cafes. It’s built from shipping containers and even features chairs made out of wooden crates (don’t worry – you’re not being massaged on them). Pop by for an hour’s worth of foot massage ($42) after brunch.
Nimble/Knead, Tiong Bahru Estate, 66 Eng Watt Street, Singapore 160066, p. 6438 3933.
Nana & Bird
Set up by fashion-loving besties, this little local store on Tiong Bahru’s hippest streets offers some of the coolest labels around – both local and international. Browse through racks of dresses by fab Singapore label Aijek and Aussie brands C/MEO Collective and Malaysian designer Cassey Gan, or pick up quirky jewellery
Nana & Bird, 1M Yong Siak Street, p. 9792 9205.
If you’re on a hunt for indie music on vinyl, this little Tiong Bahru hangout is probably your best bet. There are over 1000 records to dig through – a treasure vault for hipsters to rummage through all day.
Curated Records, #01-53, 55 Tiong Bahru Road, Singapore 160055, p. 6438 3644, Open Mon-Sun 12noon-9pm.
Former banker, Giuseppe de Giosa, is fascinated with Asian art and antiquities, and it’s evident in his calming, whitewashed art gallery that’s filled with an eclectic mix of furniture, carpets, objet d’art, sculptures, paintings, lighting and textiles. If you’re not sure how a particular piece would fit into your home, ask Mr. de Giosa himself – the avid collector has much experience helping friends and colleagues build their collections and decorate their homes.
Degios Art, #01-82 Eng Hoon Road, Singapore 281285, p. 6341 5358.
More than just an art gallery, this cool multi-concept space also houses a library, a studio and a live-in residency that provides creative folks from Singapore and aboard a platform to publish, exhibit, and curate experimental works. Stalk its Facebook page to know what’s coming up.
Grey Projects, 6B Kim Tian Road, Singapore 169246, p. 6655 6492. Open Wed-Fri 1pm-7pm, Sat 1pm-6pm.
Finally, an om-chic yoga studio in a café-saturated Tiong Bahru, thanks to the arrival of Yoga Movement. Book a mat at just $25 per class (or $190 for a 10-class pack – super affordable!) and their yoga classes come with Hot and Non-Hot options. Classes can get a bit crowded, but the clean, tranquil environment and focused lessons make up for that. We like to spend our weekends at their popular Monster Hot classes!
Yoga Movement, 11 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168646, p. 8223 3540. Open daily 7am-8pm.
Whether we intend to or not, we simply can’t stop ourselves from admiring Tiong Bahru’s stunning architecture. Above is the distinctive ‘horse-shoe’ shaped flat at Moh Guan Terrace and Guan Chuan Street. It’s also home to the first air raid shelter to be built in a public housing project.
All around Tiong Bahru you’ll see these pre-war apartments. These are designed in a late Art Deco movement called Streamline Moderne – it explains the clean curves, rounded shapes and simple, long lines.
Built after World War II, these four-storey flats (pictured above and below) steer clear of boxy designs, with the curved landing and rounded portholes. This spot here is an Instagrammer’s dream, with its wonderful symmetry and mix of curves and lines.
A district so colourful wouldn’t be without its murals. The ones you see below are painted by Yip Yew Chong: a full-time local accountant with a talent for painting.
The “Pasar Tiong Bahru” features a stall named ‘Seng Kee’, poignantly named in memory of the artist’s father. The details you see are reminiscent of Singapore’s thriving past hawker culture as well as the artist’s own preferences: the zhui kueh and laksa on the table on the right are his and his wife’s favourites; the putu mayam sold by the Indian stallowner on the left is loved by the artist’s father and daughter.
“Home” is a reflection of the estate’s history and ambience. Painted on the TV screen is Wangsa Yefung, a famed comedic duo from the ‘70s while, if you look closer at the newspaper, you’ll see late former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew promoting the Speak Mandarin campaign in 1979. On the table and the wall you’ll spot objects familiar to local culture like Axe oil and a traditional calendar.
We’ve been hanging out here for a while! Check out this old fave…
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