Although Singapore is gradually opening up following the two-month circuit breaker, we’re still a while away from international travel. Thankfully, Singapore is a truly global city, and you don’t have to look too hard to immerse yourself in another culture.
In this series, we spotlight a few local establishments – from bakeries and restaurants to design stores and other retail outlets – where you can experience the best of destinations such as Scandinavia, Japan, Paris and the deep south of the United States, without ever taking off from Changi.
When it comes to getting your fix of Scandinavian culture, everyone knows to make a beeline for IKEA – whether it’s for the Swedish meatballs with lingonberry jam or minimalist, functional furniture for your home. But beyond the famed Swedish export, you may want to consider checking out these other spots.
1. Sample butter cookies at the new Leckerbaer
The famed Copenhagen pastry shop will open its first outlet outside of Denmark at Isetan Scotts. Known for its delicious, elevated versions of Danish butter cookies (småkager), the concept is helmed by pastry chefs Gabi and Jakob Baer Mogensen. Each butter cookie is topped with a variety of ingredients – from raspberry jam to blueberry meringue – and almost too pretty to eat. If cookies aren’t your thing, they also have other options such as the signature lemon & sea buckthorn tart, which consists of torched Italian meringue and lemon and sea buckthorn curd; or a savoury quiche tart with gruyere and Parma ham, served with a pickled onion and herb salad. You can get their bakes to-go or choose to dine at the 36-seater outlet.
2. Pick up some vintage gems at Noden
If you’re in the market for vintage Scandinavian pieces for your home makeover, Noden will likely have what you’re looking for. Founded by Danish furniture enthusiasts Marko Yeo and Tawan Conchonnet in 2013, the store carries a handpicked collection of pieces from the 1940s to 1960s, with an emphasis on items from the Danish Modern period. You’ll find everything from adjustable bookcases by Kai Kristiansen and a beautifully contoured dining chair set by Kai Lyngfeldt Larsen to teak easy chairs by Arne Vodder and a rare Brazilian rosewood coffee table by Severin Hansen. Noden also carries homeware such as diffusers, scented candles and framed art prints, as well as floor and table lamps that will add a Scandi-chic vibe to your home.
3. Grab Danish-inspired homewares at Grafunkt
Located at Funan shopping mall, Granfunkt carries well-crafted furniture, lighting, homeware and trinkets to spruce up your living quarters. Founded by partners Jefery Kurniadidjaja and Nathan Yong (recipient of the Singapore President’s Design Award, Designer of the Year 2008), the shop carries design brands from all over the world, including Copenhagen-based Muuto and HAY. The former is a furniture company known for expert craftsmanship and functional yet whimsical modern designs; while the latter is a Danish retail concept that creates innovative, high-quality home furnishings at a relatively accessible price point. Once you’re all shopped out, grab a seat at the in-store café for a coffee and an array of snacks, main courses and sweet treats.
4. Dine on Norwegian salmon dishes at Pink Fish
Opened just last year at Jewel Changi Airport, this fast-casual restaurant specialises in all things to do with Norwegian salmon. Founded by Ronny Gjøse and Geir Skeie (winner of the prestigious Bocuse d’Or World award), the brand opened its first outlet in Oslo in 2017. The Singapore outpost marks their first international foray, and there are plans to enter the Chinese market soon. You’ll find a range of options on the menu that feature sustainably farmed salmon imported from Norway. We recommend the Norwegian poke bowl (raw salmon chunks with baked celeriac, spinach and an apple and mustard dressing); the Nordic stew (salmon, dill, fennel and orange); and, for a fun local twist, the Singaporean sambal burger (a salmon patty dressed with sambal slaw, pickled onion and salted egg). Fun fact: all dishes are served using biodegradable packaging, and even the cutlery is compostable.
5. Shop the latest threads by Ganni at Club 21
Scandinavian fashion lovers, rejoice. As of 2019, local luxury retail concept Club 21 carries Danish cult favourite Ganni – its eye-catching threads have been spotted on countless celebrities, from Beyoncé to Pippa Middleton. The fashion label – run by husband-and-wife duo Nicolaj Reffstrup (CEO) and Ditte Reffstrup (creative director) – is stocked in over 20 countries worldwide, with 21 concept stores in Scandinavia alone. Under the direction of the Reffstrups, the brand has been steadily pushing out creative, colourful, contemporary and down-to-earth threads at a price point that might be higher than fast-fashion options but is far more affordable than luxury lines. You can shop pieces from Ganni’s latest collection at Club 21’s boutique at Forum the Shopping Mall or via their website.
6. Find Scandi-chic furniture at Danish Design
Given Scandinavia’s global design fame, there are unsurprisingly multiple furniture stores in Singapore catering to fans of the region’s functional, minimalist and understated aesthetic. The aptly named Danish Design carries a who’s who of the Scandinavian design world. These include plush lounge chairs and cosy sofas by Finn Juhl for House of Finn Juhl; sleek dining table sets, cabinets and desks by Søren Nissen and Ebbe Gehl for the Naver Collection; and luxe lounge chairs and ottomans in royal blue and emerald green by Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi of GamFratesi for Gubi. Prices are on the steeper end, but are well worth it for what you’re getting. You can browse their website or visit the Pasir Panjang showroom to find out more.
7. Order up some Swedish favourites at Fika Swedish Café & Bistro
Fancy Swedish food that’s a little different from the standard IKEA fare? Drop by Fika Swedish Café & Bistro along Beach Road for authentic and delicious Swedish grub. The cosy space consists of two floors, with sofas upstairs that are perfect for lounging. While the menu changes with the seasons, you’ll currently find a smorgasbord of distinctly Swedish dishes. Standouts include the pickled herring plate (with rye crispbread, boiled eggs, potatoes, red onion, caviar spread and cheddar cheese); the gravlax salad (cured salmon with mixed greens, feta cheese, capers and a honey-lemon vinaigrette) and, of course, Swedish meatballs (with baby potatoes, cream sauce, lingonberry jam and pickled cucumbers).