Tiong Bahru Secrets Revealed
Most people lump Tiong Bahru in with the upper crust exclusivity of Holland Village and its swanky bars, but there’s more to this “hipster haunt” than most people give it credit for. The charming tranquility of this quaint neighbourhood goes far beyond its cafe-hopping culture, and deep into its roots as a homely heartland treasure trove.
Venture beyond the glimmer and glow of atas cafes and uncover a side of the Tiong Bahru you never knew. With surprises abundant around every corner - think rooftop soccer courts, secret library hideouts and even an adventure playground - here are 11 things every wanderer should do when exploring this vibrant neighbourhood.
1. Stuff Your Face With $6 TRUFFLE FRIES That Are Actually Legit
Update July 2017: Chef Recipe no longer operates in Tiong Bahru
Think of Tiong Bahru and you’ll probably think of a host of cafes and food joints that’ll blow a hole in your pocket. That’s not to say you won’t be able to find reasonably priced good eats around this area. Take this plate of truffle fries for instance - a sizeable portion, accompanied by a generous serving of cheese, costs just $6, easily half the price of your average truffle fries.
For once, it’s your mind that gets blown, not your wallet.
These truffle fries are wholly legit, and you’ll actually be able to taste the fragrant truffle oil coating each crispy fry. For its price, what more can you ask for? And you’ll be able to get them right here from Chef Recipe, a Western HAWKER STALL with all the trademarks of a swanky cafe, located in Tiong Bahru’s newly opened food centre, Food Paradise.
With a host of local delights like an all-day zichar stall and conventional hawker fare, residents and visitors alike will never run out of good food choices all day every day.
Check out the artistic plating! No expense was spared in this gorgeous presentation.
Bacon and mushroom spaghetti alfredo, $7.50
This creamy creation was hands down one of the best cream pastas I’ve ever had. Instead of the usual sparse sprinkle of cheese flakes on the top, the sauce itself is just as rich and flavourful - every bite will feel like you’re taking a step deeper into a cheese quagmire.
The portion size was just enough to fill you up without leaving you too gelat even after slurping down the whole plate. And yes, it’ll be impossible not to scrape off every last sliver.
Seafood Baked Rice, $7
Mmm, the combination of fresh prawns and cheese melted over a bowl of savoury zichar-style fried rice was oh-so-scrumptious.
From extravagant lunches to late night suppers, Tiong Bahru’s Food Paradise has got you and your wallet covered. Your insta followers won’t ever be able to guess this is from a hawker centre. One more reason to visit this food haven!
Find out Chef Recipe's locations here.
2.Kick up a storm on a ROOFTOP soccer court
Forget about trying to bust out the big moves on tiny futsal pitches; soccer with your neighbourhood pals just got bigger and better. If you thought only high-flyers get to play soccer on rooftops, Tiong Bahru’s here to prove you wrong.
This cherry on top of Block 44B is a well-kept secret only true #TBhippies know of - and you bet it was hard weaseling this heartland gem out of them. Its central location beside Beo Crescent Food centre makes it the best gathering ground for all kinds of group outings, so you can play to your heart’s delight and makan after. Score!
Getting To Block 44B Rooftop Soccer Court: From Tiong Bahru MRT, walk towards PSB Academy and cross the road towards Block 44. Walk through Block 44A carpark to 44B, and take the elevator up to the 6th floor to the rooftop soccer court.
3. Immerse yourself in The Low-Key Local Art Scene
Art is pretty much everywhere in free man’s land, but nothing beats an exhibition of pieces lined up in a quiet space for the appreciative wanderer. Tiong Bahru’s Art Blue Studio showcases works from Southeast Asian contemporary artists who offer refreshing takes on perspective and materials through their masterpieces.
Getting to Art Blue Studio: From Tiong Bahru MRT, head down Tiong Bahru road and turn right down Kim Pong road. Turn right again on Moh Guan Terrace and continue onto 23 Yong Siak Street.
Opening Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 10am-7pm
Resident artist at Grey Projects in her private sphere
Grey Projects, an unconventional second-floor art gallery, is the epitome of all things “hipster” and “indie” without trying to be so. Here, art lovers can appreciate the raw and honest artistic sentiment at work, and derive inspiration from the all-local exhibits.
Whether you’re an art-enthusiast or just someone craving a brief respite from the afternoon heat, Tiong Bahru’s host of art galleries will be sure to soothe and inspire you.
Getting to Grey Projects: From Tiong Bahru MRT, walk east along Tiong Bahru Road to Kim Tian Road. Go up the stairwell between 7-11 and Coq and Balls Bar To Grey Projects.
Opening Hours: Wednesday to Friday, 1pm to 7pm, Saturday 1pm to 6pm
4. Get your brain gains in a secret library alcove
Students rejoice - you no longer have to queue outside NLB at 9.30am, or bag seats at Starbucks before sunrise. Just go down to Grey Projects, a quaint second-floor art gallery with a small library alcove open to anyone looking for some quiet time with books. Harry Potter’s library/quaint bookshop in London, anyone?
Immerse yourself in someone’s personal collection and discover the wonders of writings from all over the world. These aren’t just any ole’ fiction books - we’re talking physical copies of the renowned works of Aristotle, poets other than the conventional Shakespeare and even the theses of Cambridge professors. You’ll never go back to PDF versions again!
University students, bookworms and even wifi-hoggers, Grey Projects’ Library welcomes you. Just be sure to email them the day before your visit at firstname.lastname@example.org to save your space. #kiasu
Getting To Grey Projects’ Library: From Tiong Bahru MRT, walk east along Tiong Bahru Road to Kim Tian Road. Go up the stairwell between 7-11 and Coq and Balls Bar To Grey Projects.
Opening Hours: Wednesday to Friday, 1pm to 7pm, Saturday 1pm to 6pm
5. Toast to the evening on top of the world
There’s something about the clink of glasses on rooftops that people just love, and the Lin “林” Rooftop Bar is Tiong Bahru’s diamond in the rough. With its magical fairy lights that beam alive at dusk and its cozy woodwork, it’s no wonder this forest-themed bar is Tiong Bahru’s hotspot for romantic date nights and homely gatherings.
An Asian cocktail specialty bar, Lin’s menu covers the whole course from juicy burgers to hearty Asian finger food to accompany your toasts.
Escape the buzz of overcrowded bars and unwind on comfortable couches while surrounded by Tiong Bahru’s picturesque buildings. While this 7th floor rooftop bar doesn’t give your typical awe-inspiring skyscraper view, its earthy and relaxing setting is sure to make your TGIF the most chillax one yet.
Getting to Lin Rooftop Bar: From Tiong Bahru MRT, follow Tiong Bahru Road down to Link Hotel. Take the elevator up to level R.
Opening Hours: 5.00pm-1.00am
6. Explore the picturesque streets on a bicycle
When in Tiong Bahru, do what the hippies do and cycle your way around the estate. Unlike other districts which are densely packed with HDB blocks and skyscrapers, Tiong Bahru boasts a spread of low-rise buildings with endless alleys and links, making it the perfect place for cycling around and stumbling on new treasures.
Looking like Singapore equivalent of Japan’s hipster capital of Shimokitazawa and freewheel down the winding lanes. For $10/hour, you can rent your ride of the day from Plain Vanilla Bakery - yes, they do bike rentals too! - and soak in those lazy Sunday vibes.
7. Hunt For Inspiration Down This Lane Of Hipster Shops
No visit to Tiong Bahru can go without whiling away the hours in their trademark hipster shops. From artsy decor to quirky content and even a furry door greeter, there’s everything to love about this lane of shops along Yong Siak Street. Here are our three favourite picks:
Browse through works from both local and international writers and lose yourself between the pages. The folks of this quaint bookstore do a good job of keeping their content refreshing, upbeat and out of the ordinary Singaporean genre. From classic literature to (literally) trashy magazines like Rubbish Mag, you’ll be sure to find something to pore over for a few hours.
Even if you’re not one for words, come in and snuggle up to the cute resident cats of Books Actually. Watch out for Mr Grumps though, he bites!
Mr Grumps nestled on top of a pile of poetry books
Getting to Books Actually: From Tiong Bahru MRT, head down Tiong Bahru Road and turn right on Kim Pong Road. Turn right again on Moh Guan Terrace and continue onto 9 Yong Siak Street.
Opening Hours: 10am to 8pm
Marvel at the creativity of local designers in this space where fashion meets function. Comparable to hipster haunt, Naiise, Strangelets is the best place to pick up some personalized cute trinkets for a birthday round the corner.
Getting to Strangelets: From Tiong Bahru MRT, head down Tiong Bahru Road and turn right on Kim Pong Road. Turn right again on Moh Guan Terrace and continue onto 7 Yong Siak Street.
Opening Hours: 11.00am -8.00pm
What’s unique about this vinyl store is that it stocks quality vinyls of the modern era, featuring the works of chart-topping artistes like Sam Smith and Rihanna. Unlike most vinyl stores which focus on the older tunes of yesteryear, Curated Records brings you today’s hottest hits on an age-old medium: the novel vinyl.
Getting to Curated Records: From Tiong Bahru MRT, head down Tiong Bahru Road till you see Link Hotel. Cross the road to Curated Records, just opposite Link Hotel.
Opening Hours: 1.00pm-8.00pm
8. Activate Your Inner Auntie With These Incredible Supermarket Steals at Foodie Market Place
Tiong Bahru can be quite intimidating for the budget-conscious, what with its reputation as one of Singapore’s most hipster neighbourhoods. But there’s so much more to this neighbourhood than its locals are letting on like Foodie Market Place, a grocery mart specialising in air-flown frozen poultry, seafood and produce.
If you thought your Fairprice grocery game was strong, you’re in for a treat at Tiong Bahru. Foodie Market Place’s prices are one of the most competitive out there, with most meats going for half the price of what you can get at your usual supermarket. Giving the big giants a run for their money, eh?
Dutch aged Edam, Gouda cheese, you name it, they have it - and at affordable prices to boot. We saw 1kg of cheddar cheese going for around $10! That’ll last you at least 10 bowls of baked rice, and save you a whole bunch of dollars.
Getting to Foodie Market Place: From Tiong Bahru MRT, walk down Tiong Bahru Road towards Eng Hoon Street to Foodie Market Place.
Opening Hours: 11am to 8pm
9. Hunt Down The Elusive Heritage Murals
Cozying up to the old kampong residents at Blk 73 Eng Watt Street
At home at Block 74 Tiong Poh Road
Birdwatching with the neighbourhood lao jiaos at Block 71 Seng Poh Road
The mark of a true #TBhippie is when you can hunt down all the areas murals like the back of your hand. Take it from us - it’s no small feat. We spent a good afternoon tracing maps and scouring the ‘hood for its very own heritage trail marks.
These creative murals capture the spirit and life of Tiong Bahru’s many generations, from its communal kampong days to HDB-living, and even some larger-than-life goats.
1 of 3 Goats found by the Tiong Bahru Market’s walls.
Getting to the Murals: The mural maze is located in the nest of blocks around the Tiong Bahru Market.
10. Partake In A History Lesson By The Owners Of Tiong Bahru’s Oldest Shop
Nothing beats hearing snippets of history from your sagely neighbourhood oldies. If you pop by Yong Huat, Tiong Bahru’s last-standing furniture refurbishing shop from the ‘60s, the owners will be more than happy to recount the town’s history with you.
The 49 year old furniture and upholstery refurbishing shop is manned by Mr Tay and his father, who have seen everything from Frenchwood chairs to 130 year-old European heirlooms. Pure passion and love for this homely neighbourhood kept the business going even when its neighbours moved away.
From identifying authentic food stalls around the neighbourhood vis-à-vis its new additions to its lesser-known haunted shops, Mr Tay’s tales will whisk you back to the good old days.
Getting to Yong Huat: Head down Tiong Bahru Road and turn down Lim Liak Street to 60 Seng Poh Lane, Singapore 160060.
11. Relive Your Childhood At The Adventure Playground
Where a playground meets your Primary 5 Adventure Camp - that was my initial gobsmacked reaction at this mind-blowing playground. From its flying fox feature to its topsy-turvy train carriages, this off-the-track playground is every kid’s dream of wonderland. Feel like a miniature Tom Cruise as you leap out of a derailing train and abseil your way to safe ground.
If your impression of Tiong Bahru is that of a sleepy hipster abode, you’re in for a real ride. This historic playground has been one of the neighbourhood’s key landmarks since the dawn of time, so whether you’re young or old - it’s never too late to relive your childhood dreams in the wildest playground ever.
Getting to Adventure Playground: From Tiong Bahru MRT, head west along Tiong Bahru Road towards Lower Delta Road.
Exploring neighbourhoods far from my own always feels like a mini escapade, even if I never do leave the country. There’s definitely more to this picturesque estate than just Tiong Bahru Bakery and its trendy cafes. You can expect a whole host of fun things outside the scope of what you can do in Town or in your own neighbourhood.
So tighten your laces, because Tiong Bahru awaits!
At Your Doorstep
Nothing beats calling this hip and vibrant neighbourhood your homeground, and donning the title of a true Tiong Bahru local. With an exclusive rooftop soccer court, lanes of artsy shops and art-decked alleys to lose yourself in, you’ll never run out of things to do in your own backyard.
If you’ve always lived off the screens of Gossip Girl and its Upper East socialites, you’ll be glad to know that you can now lead your own Uptown life right here in this swanky new abode. Introducing Highline Residences - the newest condominium addition to the town’s housing spread. It boasts round-the-clock access to the best Tiong Bahru has to offer and more.
Saunter down Singapore’s equivalent of Tokyo’s famed Kinfolk streets on your daily commutes, and immerse yourself in hipster haunts and heritage all around on your weekends out and about.
Revel in splendour in a home designed by award-winning architect Mok Wei Wei, and pamper yourself with pool parties, pavilion picnics and even exclusive concierge and limousine services. Selena Van Der Woodsen’s got nothing on that!
With so much waiting right outside your door, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t find a home in Tiong Bahru.
This post was brought to you by Keppel Land.