With the drier, cooler weather this month, it’s the perfect time to explore Singapore’s extensive Park Connector Network (PCN) cycling paths. Start by choosing your wheels at Hello, Bicycle! (on Middle Road, next to National Design Centre), which allows rentals from 12 hours up to several days, along with the option to have your rental picked up anywhere on the island.
Now get prepped for the day ahead by loading your bike into a maxi cab and head over to PS.Cafe by the Sea at East Coast Park for a hearty breakfast. A great view of the park accompanies their seafood-focused menu offering brunch dishes such as lemongrass mussel and clam spaghettini and chorizo and calamari stew. They also offer a special menu for the kids.
From here, it’s a relatively straightforward bike ride via the cycle bridge connecting the park to Marina Bay. Take a restroom break at Bay East Garden before enjoying an unobstructed view of the city skyline as you continue cycling along the coast to Marina Barrage. If you’re lucky, you might spot colourful kites fluttering atop the green-roofed structure. Breeze through Gardens by the Bay and across the Helix Bridge and head to Suntec City.
The sprawling mall is filled with dining options, but make a beeline for Fat Chap. The bistro and bar offers Asian and Indonesian fare inspired by the chef’s own grandmother – think sambal chicken wings, and snapper served with tomatoes and okra.
From here, it’s a straight path down Rochor Road, though you might prefer winding through the streets of the Malay-Arab cultural enclave of Kampong Glam, making pit stops for photographs, souvenirs and sweet treats. When you reach Rochor Canal follow the waterway towards Camp Kilo Charcoal Club. This weekend-only outdoor restaurant serves up roast meats and sides in shareable portions.
Alternatively, check out 11 Hamilton, just a few minutes’ cycle away. This back-alley café-restaurant offers an extensive menu ranging from all-day breakfast to pastas and steak. Don’t miss their well-loved cakes, which are baked in-house and have unique flavours such as Orh Nee, a light layered cake inspired by the local yam paste dessert of the same name. Here’s also where you can leave your bicycle for collection.
Find your nightcap at Barking Irons, a steampunk-themed speakeasy offering cocktails influenced by local drinks such as the rose-flavoured Bandung BBT (gin, rose syrup, elderflower liqueur, condensed milk and grass jelly) and the whisky-spiked Milo Dinosaur.
“My favourite local music spots are Cool Cats at Beach Road for live jazz and Wala Wala at Holland Village to catch local musicians.” — Celia-Ann Tay, co-owner of RetroCrates
Today is all about revisiting the past and imagining the future. Get your morning caffeine fix at Food Anatomy, a café at the Red Dot Design Museum serving cakes and light bites that promise a visual-gastronomic experience amidst award-winning design-driven products.
It’s then a short stroll towards the ArtScience Museum for the new “2219: Futures Imagined” exhibition. This is an exploration of what Singapore would be like in 200 years, featuring the thoughts of artists, architects, filmmakers, writers and theatre companies from around the world.
From here, it’s a few train stops to HarbourFront and Seah Im Food Centre. No trip to Singapore is complete without jumping head first into hawker foods, and this spot is particularly known for the assam fish curry at Kheng Nam Lee Curry Rice, and traditional yam rice with tender braised duck at Cai Ji Boneless Duck Rice Porridge.
Afterwards, it’s time to explore Telok Blangah. In the past, this neighbourhood was home to the Temenggong, the royals who once ruled Singapore, and appears in the story of Sang Nila Utama, the Palembang prince who founded the Kingdom of Singapura in 1299.
Visit Masjid Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim, a mosque that stands on the former site of a royal reception hall and explore the forested compound of Keramat Radin Mas, which houses the shrine of Javanese princess Radin Mas Ayu, who was meant to have died to save her father. Continue towards the Silat Road Sikh Temple, which is one of the seven gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) in Singapore, and also the oldest. Try the vegetarian fare cooked on-site and offered free to the public.
Otherwise, take a short cab ride to Five Oars Coffee Roasters. The Melbourne-style café is known as a great spot to relax thanks to its botanical décor and light, airy vibe. Dishes range from mentaiko mac and cheese to crème brûlée french toast.
End your night at the nearby Operation Dagger. The award-winning bar, under new head bartender and creative director Thomas Girard, has just launched a new menu. We recommend the refreshing É Kho Qua – which combines fermented bitter melon, spinach, cane and whey.
“All Best Grill Seafood at Newton Food Centre, Super Star K at Tanjong Pagar and Founder Bak Kut Teh are my go-to late night supper spots.” — Thomas Girard, head bartender and creative director of Operation Dagger
Get ready to experience a multitude of global cuisines in one city, and there are few better ways to start than at Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata on Joo Chiat Road. Head there early to skip the winding queues for the cracklingly crispy prata (Indian flatbread). Choose to have yours with fish or lentil curry, and don’t forget to try a strong kopi-O (black coffee) or teh-O (black tea).
Afterwards, it’s a short walk to Kuan Im Tng Temple to admire its intricate statues and beautifully carved walls. Make sure to wander the lanes of this historic enclave, in one of which you’ll find a mural by Ernest Zacharevic, the artist famed for his street paintings in Penang’s George Town.
From here, it’s a quick stroll over to the short stretch of Peranakan houses (originally constructed in the 20th century) that lines Koon Seng Road. Drop by to admire the colourful architecture and snap a few pictures.
For lunch, hit up Vietnamese eatery Long Phung back on Joo Chiat Road. It’s usually packed with members of the local Vietnamese community. Particularly recommended are their beef pho and goi cuon (Vietnamese spring rolls).
For dessert, grab a freshly baked croissant at Petit Pain before you commence your exploration of the street’s eclectic mix of shops. You’ll pass by rattan furniture store Teong Theng Co, vinyl store RetroCrates and Rumah Bebe, with its decorative interior and traditional kitchen ware. Just beside it is Kim Choo Kueh Chang, where you can browse ceramic items, shoes and snacks.
For dinner, take a taxi to the Michelin-starred Lei Garden Restaurant to sample Cantonese dishes in the beautiful setting of CHIJMES. Enjoy a dim sum feast with dishes including Peking duck and truffle dumplings.
Finish your evening at Almost Famous Craft Beer Bar. Also located within CHIJMES it has 16 taps on rotation serving various craft brews.
Drink up to Singapore’s bar scene with these inventive cocktails
Fantasise about the Alps with Junior’s Sweater Weather, a mix of cognac, dark rum, spiced pear, vermouth and honey, or head to Niseko with Live Twice’s umeshu-based Quiet Inlet. The Heart of Vincent by Smoke and Mirrors, offers a smoky, briny muskiness, while The Old Man’s Death in the Afternoon, is a take on the potent Hemmingway classic with fragrant pandan and nutmeg.
This article was originally published in the February 2020 issue of SilverKris magazine