Located just 10 minutes from the glitzy shopping belt of Orchard Road, Novena offers the convenience of a central setting while still being relatively near to the lush walking trails at MacRitchie Reservoir and Bukit Brown. It’s also home to a wide variety of dining options, ranging from heritage establishments like Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice to popular hole-in-the-wall restaurants including Mexican joint El Cocinero and Italian favourite Da Luca Italian Restaurant. And with many luxury condos and bungalows in the area, it’s no wonder Novena is often top of mind for expat families moving to Singapore.
In this guide, Novena residents share with us their neighbourhood favourites.
1. White Feathers
With warm lighting and comfortable seating, this relatively-new cosy bistro located right beside Novena MRT station at Goldhill Centre is a favourite for residents who are fans of their unique fusion fare. Bringing together Japanese and Italian cuisine, White Feathers serves elevated comfort food in the form of dishes such as teriyaki chicken pizza, mentaiko clam pasta and Japanese tochigi wagyu steak grilled with a mouth-watering black pepper sauce and a tomato rucola salad.
2. Nickeldime Drafthouse
Opened in October 2014, this no-frills watering hole was among the first few spots to tap into the burgeoning craft beer trend. It serves a rotating selection of about 19 craft beers from around the globe as well as homegrown labels including Trouble Brewing, so you’ll be spoiled for choice. The menu also features beer-inspired items such as stout-infused beef ragu pasta and mini jalapeño IPA burgers.
3. MacRitchie Trail
Novena is not just home to good eats; there are also plenty of wide-open spaces where you can stretch your legs and get some fresh air (much needed in the time of lockdowns and travel restrictions). While the MacRitchie Trail – which leads to the popular TreeTop Walk, currently closed for maintenance works – is a hot favourite, make time to visit the less-crowded but no less beautiful Upper Peirce and Lower Peirce Reservoir Parks. Sprawled out across Old Upper Thomson Road, both offer a serene respite from the busyness of daily life.
Enjoy your dose of K-beauty at this Korean skin spa, which offers rejuvenating express pick-me-ups that take up just 15 minutes of your time. Using facial therapy equipment flown in from South Korea as well as skincare products selected by a team of aesthetic doctors, the facial treatments help hydrate your skin and lend an added glow to your complexion.
5. Lechon Republic
As its name suggests, this cheap and cheerful eatery serves the roasted suckling pig dish made popular by the Cebuano people, but widely considered to be one of the Philippines’ national dishes. Owned and managed by a Filipina whose family business is in lechon catering, you know you’re getting authentic spit-roasted pork here. The crackling is crispy, and the meat is chunky, succulent and full of flavour. Apart from the signature lechon with rice, they also serve other Filipino favourites such as lechon paksiw (a tangy pork stew made with lots of vinegar) and lumpiang Shanghai (deep-fried spring rolls).
6. Climb Central
For more adrenaline-pumping action, head over to the indoor climbing gym at Velocity@Novena Square. Great for beginners and experienced climbers alike, the gym offers a range of options in the form of a bouldering wall, a top rope wall (a climbing style where the climber is attached to a rope that passes up through an anchor system at the top of the climb) and a lead climbing wall (where climbers follow a lead climber). There are also shower facilities on-site so you can freshen up before you head for your next appointment.
First founded in Los Angeles by Lovie Yancey in 1947, Fatburger is worth a visit for a taste of thick, juicy all-American burgers. The burgers here come in four sizes – from a single patty to the jaw-breaking four-patty Quad – and every meal is cooked to order and uses only fresh ingredients. Those with dietary restrictions aren’t left out either – Fatburger offers gluten-free buns as well as a Veggie Burger. They have also recently introduced the Cod Fish Burger, featuring a large wedge of crispy crumbed cod between pillowy soft buns. Slurp down your meal with one of their decadently creamy milkshakes.
8. Kamome Bakery
While Singapore has no dearth of boutique bakeries, Japanese ones tend to be especially popular because of their unique ingredients such as matcha or Hokkaido fresh milk and the soft, chewy texture of their bread. This unassuming bakery, tucked away in Goldhill Shopping Centre, is no different. Named after a limited express train that runs between Hakata and Nagasaki in Japan, it offers a variety of sweet and savoury sandwiches. Try the Banana and Brown Sugar, where fresh banana slices are arranged on a pastry base, or the Mentaiko, where the cod roe has been whipped into an umami-laden mayonnaise and is served within a crusty baguette.
After a day spent trekking or climbing, soothe your tired muscles within the pampering confines of Squeeze. Conveniently located about a five-minute walk from Novena MRT station, the stylish spa is decked out in contemporary fixtures and furnishings (think wooden accents and hanging greenery). Offering both foot reflexology and full-body massages, there are 20-minute options for the time-pressed and up to 120-minute sessions for those after some full-on relaxation.
10. The Clueless Goat
Run by a young Singaporean couple, this popular brunch spot serves familiar favourites such as poached eggs, smashed avocado on toast and roast beef sandwiches. Their coffee beans are sourced from Common Man Coffee Roasters, which delivers consistently smooth, aromatic cuppas. We recommend pairing your latte with their latest dessert offerings – brownie bars in luscious flavours such as double chocolate mint, coconut cream and the indulgent peanut butter and caramel.
SEE ALSO: Nine neighbourhood favourites in Bukit Timah to visit