A long road that connects Kallang to Rochor, the area generally known as Jalan Besar really spans Little India to Lavender Street. And beyond the eponymous sports stadium and industrial workshops, countless cafes , bookstores and hostels have popped up over time to join the older restaurants and local food.
It’s still hipster – if anyone still uses that word – and an “it” spot for a lazy weekend afternoon , or a satisfying meal. Here’s our guide so you can cafe-hop, feast and drink with peace of mind that you won’t be disappointed:
Restaurants & bars
Serving refined modern Asian dishes prepared with high-quality ingredients, alittle tashi has two dining spaces to choose from: the eclectically designed Dining Room and the hip Laundry Room with its hidden back alley entrance.
Try their signature starter, Chicken Liver Parfait ($18++) with almond sugee and mulled wine, and the Sautéed Squid & House Cured Pork Belly ($28++), a lovely surf and turf item drizzled with an aromatic lime garlic sauce.
Also recently launched is their Weekend Popover Ala Carte Brunch Buffet ($48++ per adult); look forward to unlimited servings of buttery popovers that are similar to Yorkshire pudding, as well as plates like Alittle Different Scrambled Eggs with truffle oil and a hint of mustard and crowd favourite Spiced Chicken & Tomato Jam .
alittle tashi is located at 39 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore 207538, p. +65 9757 3680. Open Tue – Fri, 5pm – 11pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-3pm, 5pm-11pm. Closed Mon. Weekend Popover Ala Carte Brunch Buffet on Sat & Sun from 12pm to 3.30pm.
Red Eye Smokehouse
Carnivores are sure to feel at home at Red Eye Smokehouse. This American-style joint offers an extensive menu of smoked and barbecued meats cooked low and slow, like the 10-hour smoked USDA Angus Beef Brisket ($34, 200g) and the well-marbled, Duroc Pork Belly ($20) smoked in a garlic paprika rub. They also offer classic American sides, craft beers and cocktails.
Red Eye Smokehouse is located at 1 Cavan Rd, Singapore 209842. Open Tue – Sat, 12pm – 3pm, 5pm – 10pm, and Sun, 12pm – 3pm, 5pm – 9pm. Closed Mon.
Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong
Ah Hua Kelong is well known for being a top quality local seafood supplier to restaurants in Singapore, so obviously Scaled has incredible seafood dishes. Try their most popular dish, the Roasted Black Garoupa ($28) flavoured with garam masala, mushrooms and a potato-based vichyssoise.
Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong is located at 8 Hamilton Rd, Singapore 209179, p. +65 9830 0117. Open Mon – Tue, 5.30pm – 10.30pm, and Wed – Sun, 12pm – 2.30pm, 5.30pm – 10.30pm.
This craft beer spot is best known for hosting an impressive rotating 23 taps, but it also serves up hearty Asian food that makes for great pub grub.
Try their Druggists Platter for S$32 and get an assortment of Salted Gula Melaka Honey Wings , Sausages , Shrimp Gyoza and Hakka Fried Pork Belly with Nam Yu .
Druggists is located at 119 Tyrwhitt Rd, Singapore 207547, p. +65 6802 0228. Open Mon – Sat, 3.30pm – 10.30pm, and Sun, 2pm – 10.30pm.
Specialising in roast meats, Char serves up char siew, pork belly and roast duck cooked in both Chinese and Western styles.
Their Signature Char Siew platter is $85 for 1kg, so bring friends to share with, or opt for a smaller portion of Roast Pork Belly at just $8.50 per 100g. They have ales on tap to wash everything down too.
Char is located at 363 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208994. Open Tue – Sun, 11.30am – 2.30pm and 6pm – 9.30pm. Closed Mon.
Shou La Shou Beijing Restaurant
Folks looking for northern Chinese cuisine will have no lack of options in the neighbourhood, but Shou La Shou (Hand in Hand in Mandarin) makes the most comforting xiao long baos, guo ties and noodles, and is more wallet-friendly than its alternatives.
Get your Xiao Long Bao fix from $5.80, Pidan Tofu ($5), and Griddled Frog with Pickled Peppers at $16.80.
Shou La Shou Beijing Restaurant is located at #01-01, 141 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208859. Open daily 10.30am – 10.30pm.
Apartment is a homey, cosy cafe on Lavender Street. It has loveseats for intimate conversations, but you can drink at the bar as well. The lighting is beautiful, there’s plenty of open space and the furniture looks vaguely Scandinavian – it’s just a very aesthetically pleasing place.
Add that to the fact that they’ve won multiple awards in the two years since they were founded and you’ve got yourself something special. Their coffees start at $4 for an espresso, and they have artisanal teas as well.
Apartment Coffee is located at 161 Lavender St, #01-12, Singapore 338750. Open Mon – Sun, 10am – 6pm.
This industrial-style cafe is all metal and concrete, so you get the sense they take themselves pretty seriously. It’s evident they take coffee especially seriously, since Lucid is owned by National Brewers’ Cup champion Andrea Tan.
Their menu is small and simple, mostly coffee drinks, tea from Hvala and a few baked goods. A Black Coffee (daily batch brewed) goes for $3.50, while an Iced White (two shots of espresso, milk, and ice) goes for $6.
Lucid is located at 38 Hamilton Road, Singapore 209208. Open Wed – Mon, 11am – 7.30pm. Closed Tue.
Love tea? This beautiful teahouse sources tea from all over Asia to bring you the best Singapore has to offer. They try to source from tea makers directly to support them, which we always appreciate in this cutthroat, capitalist world.
Their flavoured Oolong selection is unparalleled and delicious, and they’ve got cakes and cookies up for grabs as well. Get their hot teas for $6 and iced versions for $6.50. If you want to enjoy these brews at home, you can buy their leaves on their site and have them delivered to you.
Antea Social is located at 9 Tyrwhitt Rd, Singapore 207528, p. +65 6493 0120. Open Mon – Sun, 11.30am – 7pm.
A must-try for the dairy lovers, this ice creamery is unafraid to experiment. Their small-batch flavour pairings lead to options like Granny Smith Apple and Dill, Bronte Pistachio and Himalayan Pink Salt , and Navel Orange and White Chrysanthemum Flower.
A single scoop goes for $5 for classic flavours and $6 for premium flavours. Double scoops are $8 for classic and $10 for premium. Get a Jumbo cone for just $1.40!
gelatolabo is located at 11 Cavan Rd, 01-09, Singapore 209848, p. +65 8831 3078. Open Mon – Thu, 1pm – 10pm, and Fri – Sun, 1pm – 10.30pm.
Chin Sin Huan
Chin Sin Huan has been around, technically, since the 1960s. It started as a simple coffee shop and, as it passed through the hands of different generations of the same family, evolved into an iconic feature of the neighbourhood that made simple, fresh, homemade paus.
They’re pretty cheap, too. Their speciality Big Pork Pau is $1.50 a piece, and their Char Siew Pau and Yuan Yang Pau (a mixture of red bean and lotus paste with a molten salted egg yolk centre) are $0.80 and $1.30 apiece respectively.
They’ve also got almost every typical local dish you could want for an authentic Singaporean breakfast. If you’re not craving pau, dig into their Fan Choy with a side of Soft-Boiled Eggs .
Chin Sin Huan is located at 285 Jln Besar, Singapore 208948, p. +65 6906 4957. Open Mon – Sat, 8am – 6pm. Closed Sun.
This bakery does artisanal home-style, hand-made bakes, inspired by recipes passed down from our grandmothers. Their menu reminds me of days when my mother bakes to destress, filling the house with the smells of vanilla and sugar and chocolate, but with a definite local twist.
Their Rustic Naked Cakes go for $7.90 a slice, and Handcrafted Tarts for $6.90 each, with plenty of delicious flavours to pick from for each. They’ve got take-home specials as well, and you can order cakes from their website.
Butter Studio is located at 147 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208865, p. +65 6294 7115. Open Mon – Thu, 12pm – 9pm, Fri, 12pm – 11pm, Sat, 11am – 12am, and Sun, 11am – 9pm.
Hong Kong 88 Roast Meat Specialist
This humble hawker stall is so popular that it frequently sells out, leaving hungry hopefuls disappointed. It’s most famous for its roasted char siew, crispy-skinned pork belly and duck, giving patrons that incredibly combination of fatty, sweet and salty.
You can get a plate of Roasted Pork and Char Siew Rice for $6, and Char Siew Wonton Mee for $5. Popular consensus is that it’s definitely worth it.
Hong Kong 88 Roast Meat Specialist is located at 308 Lavender St, Singapore 338814, p. +65 8225 2495. Open Tue – Sun, 8am – 9pm. Closed Mon.
Ming Chung Restaurant
This restaurant serves up food from the Henghua people, a minority group of immigrants from Putian in Fujian province of China. It features seafood heavily, especially seaweed, oysters and clams.
Their version of Lor Mee ($5 for a small serving) is wok-fried in white broth, with big servings of vegetables, seafood, pork and clams. Their Fried Bee Hoon , also $5 for a small serving, is also very popular.
Ming Chung Restaurant is located at 67 Maude Rd, Singapore 208348, p. +65 6296 3428. Open Tue – Sun, 12pm – 10pm. Closed Mon.
Beach Road Scissors Cut Curry Rice
Everybody loves curry rice. It’s comfort food for many, and a classic Singaporean dish. This mainstay of the Jalan Besar area provides diners with a large variety of fried side dishes to choose from but tops it all with a unique mixed Hainanese curry and braised dark sauce that leaves you satiated.
You can get a full meal here from just S$4, making it extremely worth your money.
Beach Road Scissors Cut Curry Rice is located at 229 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208905. Open Mon – Sun, 11am – 3.30am.
This article was first published in City Nomads.