A DAY IN TIONG BAHRU
While its retro Art Deco–like structures and residential blocks have long lured design and architecture buffs, only in recent years has the old housing estate of Tiong Bahru—just to the west of Chinatown—emerged as Singapore’s coolest stomping ground, thanks to an influx of trendy bars, cafés, and art spaces. It’s an ideal place to spend a day on foot, especially if you follow this tried-andtested itinerary.
9 a.m. Treat yourself to one of French baker Gontran Cherrier’s rich almondchocolate croissants or a perfectly crisped kouign-amann pastry at Tiong Bahru Bakery ( tiongbahrubakery.com), still one of the neighborhood’s most beloved cafés some five years after its opening. For something more savory, try the squid-ink baguette with smoked salmon, assuming it’s not sold out already.
10:30 a.m. There’s a remarkable collection of rare and signed books to browse at quiet
BooksActually ( booksactuallyshop.com), which is also one of the better places to find works by Singaporean poets and authors. Of particular note, the shop’s own imprint, Math Paper Press, publishes a series of titles filled with fascinating stories from local residents about the neighborhoods they’ve called home for at least a decade. 12:30 p.m. Follow the locals’ lead with a casual Singaporean-style lunch at Tiong Bahru Market, the huge open-air hawker center that reopened in May following a three-month closure for significant renovations. Join the lengthy queue at 178 Sharks Meat Lor Mee for a hot bowl of sticky noodles topped with fried shark meat—it’s worth the wait.
3 p.m. Escape the midday heat inside a few of Tiong Bahru’s best boutiques. Vintage and alternative vinyl hunters could spend hours rifling through the more than 1,000 records at Curated Records ( fb.com/curatedrecords). If you’re more interested in designer fashions, head to Nana & Bird (nanaandbird.com), a one-time pop-up run by two Singaporean women with keen eyes for style.
5 p.m. Attend a current events discussion, join a hands-on workshop, or just browse the curated galleries at Grey Projects ( greyprojects.org), a nonprofit platform for all things art. Two- to three-month studio residencies for emerging Singaporean artists ensure a steady schedule of new and interesting exhibitions. 6:30 p.m. Kick back with a cold sundowner at Booze Pharma-C ( fb.com/boozepharmac), a new bottle shop with a few street-side tables out front. It’s one of the only places in the area exclusively offering imported and local craft beers. Look for bottles from Brewlander & Co. ( brewlander.com), a local brewery that launched in March. Its Wild IPA, a hoppy, somewhat funky ale fermented with wild yeasts, is exceptional.
8 p.m. Though domestic vegetables and herbs unfortunately remain few and far between in Singapore restaurants, Open Door Policy ( odpsingapore.com) bucks the norm by growing its own greens in its in-house vertical garden. Chef Ryan Clift’s menu features full-flavored dishes like pan-seared crispy quail and king crab orecchiette—you’d never guess everything is dairy- and gluten-free. 10:30 p.m. Head through the nondescript door in the back of an old converted kopitiam to Bincho ( bincho.com.sg), a multi-concept eatery that by night morphs into an Osakanstyle izakaya. Go for one of the bar’s Japanese cocktails or rare whiskies; if you’re still hungry, chef Asai Masahi’s yakitori should do the trick.
Door seatingatOpen Above:Counter bar. Bincho’syakitori Policy.Right: