Life at the city fringe: I spent a day at Balestier and found plenty of hidden gems

With Balestier's laid-back charm and convenient location at the city fringe, you'd think it would be a pretty hip and happening place.

Surprisingly, the underrated neighbourhood isn't as hectic as we'd assumed it would be and property platform 99.co even described it as an "underrated city fringe neighbourhood".

I'll be honest and confess that I used to be one of those people who didn't give this area a second thought — until I spent an entire day exploring it.

Now, I've come to realise that there truly is more than meets the eye at Balestier, so much so that I'm considering living here!

Curious to know what I got up to on my day trip there? Read on to find out more.

Malls, hidden cafes and supermarkets all within a stone's throw

While strolling around the area, I chanced upon Zhongshan Mall.

Checking out Zhongshan Mall. PHOTO: AsiaOne 

Apart from the usual shops like Starbucks, McDonald's and Breadtalk, I also discovered hidden gems like Stackz, an American-style cafe that serves brunch fare like crepe chicken nachos and savoury pancakes.

Some of the food options you can find at Zhongshan Mall. PHOTO: AsiaOne/Melissa Teo
PHOTO: AsiaOne/Melissa Teo

One thing I loved was the huge NTUC Finest on the second level of the mall. As someone who enjoys spontaneous trips to the supermarket, it was a treat to wander about the enormous NTUC outlet.

The best part? In a couple of months, Zhongshan Mall won't be the only mall in the area. Shaw Plaza, which is currently undergoing renovation, will be up and running, providing more retail and dining options to those living in the area.

When completed, it will house a movie theatre as well as a variety of shops and restaurants, making it an ideal one-stop edutainment mall for residents in the area.

Food options for any craving

The malls aren't the only places where you can satiate your hungry stomachs. Little did I know the Balestier neighbourhood is a foodie's paradise and is home to a plethora of food options, ranging from cafes to local delights.

If you're hankering for cafe food, you can pop by the hippy Wheeler's Yard. I dropped by for lunch while exploring the area and I absolutely loved the vibes here.

My delicious brunch from Wheeler's Yard. PHOTO: AsiaOne/Melissa Teo

I also made a mental note of famous restaurants like Boon Tong Kee, Founder Bak Kut Teh and Loy Kee Chicken Rice for my future visits. There's also Whampoa Food Centre and Balestier Market which are packed with local delights.

And for the folks who need their caffeine fix, you're in luck. There's Lam Yeo Coffee Powder Factory, a famous Singaporean traditional-style coffee roaster specialising in both local and modern coffee, in the area too.

A stone's throw away from Novena and Orchard Road

For those of you who frequent Novena and Orchard Road, you'd be glad to know that both the areas are conveniently accessible to Balestier via public transport as well as two expressways — CTE and PIE.

It isn't too bad by foot either! Within 12 minutes, I managed to walk from Novena to Balestier. Definitely faster than I expected.

From cafe-hopping to shopping at Japanese grocer Don Don Donki, there's already plenty to do in Novena, but when Health City Novena is fully completed by 2030, the 17-hectare modern integrated healthcare complex will add to the bustle of the area.

Apart from the exciting prospects of Health City Novena, the neighbourhood is also home to four different malls that cater to different groups of people.

Fitness junkies can check out sports mall Velocity that is home to Decathlon, Climb Central and even a Fight Zone.

Lots of malls to visit such as Square 2. PHOTO: AsiaOne/Melissa Teo

Right next to it is Square 2, which has a plethora of Japanese and Korean eats for you to chow down on. There is even a sizeable Don Don Donki downstairs near the Novena MRT station!

For more food options, pop on over to Royal Square Novena, which houses popular restaurants like Tipo Strada and Two Men Bagel House.

Some of the food options at Royal Square Novena. PHOTO: AsiaOne/Melissa Teo

And if you are a Hai Di Lao addict like me, you'd be glad that there is a massive outlet here for days when you're hankering for some hotpot.

We haven't forgotten about the kids either. Within a stone's throw away is United Square, which is packed with education centres and kids' speciality stores.

Those looking for more retail therapy can also head over to Orchard Road just two train stops away from Novena.

Get to Orchard Road in a jiffy! PHOTO: AsiaOne/Melissa Teo

This place needs no introduction and if you're a shopaholic like I am, you'd appreciate how close it is to Balestier.

Quick drive to good schools

Balestier isn't just home to delicious eats and shopping malls — there are good schools in the area like Hong Wen School, CHIJ Primary (Toa Payoh), St. Joseph's Institution Junior (SJIJ), St. Joseph's Institution International (SJII) and Bendemeer Primary School.

The strategic locations make it easy for parents to drop their kids off at school before running errands in the area. They can even squeeze in a quick shopping spree or high tea session if they want to!

Verticus, a freehold condominium in the heart of it all

If my little adventure at Balestier changed your mind about the area and made you feel like living here like I do, you're in luck — there is a new and upcoming condominium called Verticus.

Located in the very heart of Balestier along Jalan Kemaman, within the Novena planning area, Verticus is right in the centre of all the buzz.

The best part? It's a freehold property, which means you can pass it down through generations.

This 28-storey condominium is slated to be completed by 2024 and there are two-bedroom and three-bedroom units available. Everything else has been snatched up.

I visited the showroom to check out the space for myself and found it to be extra functional.

A sneak peek at what Verticus has to offer. PHOTO: AsiaOne/Melissa Teo

The homes are efficiently designed so no space goes to waste. I especially loved the balcony area; I could imagine myself relaxing there after a long day of work.

My other favourite part of the house is the bathroom. With luxurious fittings from Grohe and Hansgrohe as well as large mirrors and spacious cabinetry, the space is ideal for anyone who treats shower time as me-time.

And then, there is the wardrobe. What I love about it is the built-in accessories cabinet which is perfect for an accessory hoarder like myself.

The apartments aren't just the only thing that piqued my interest - the property comes with a range of facilities like a leisure pool, lap pool, tennis court, sky lounge, sky gym and even a junior rock wall. It'll definitely keep the whole family entertained without even having to step outside of the compound!

Like what you hear? You can book an appointment with Verticus to check the sales gallery. 

This article is brought to you in partnership with Soilbuild Group Holdings Ltd.

melissateo@asiaone.com