Oh, Tiong Bahru. You are a neighbourhood hiding a trove of mouth-watering discoveries. We complain that you’re gentrified, yet we love your awesome ice-cream waffles, soy lattes and eggs benedict. That’s not all though – you house plenty of time-honoured delicious corners that withstood the winds of change. Being hungry here is nearly impossible. We found something that got our stomachs filled at every street and turn. Here, we bring you a list of our favourite eats from Tiong Bahru Road to Jalan Bukit Ho Swee and everything else in between.
Next time you’re in Tiong Bahru, be sure to hike your way to Dessert Project (also to reduce some of that calorie guilt later). Upon stepping into this ice-cream and waffle paradise, the temptation to heap a thousand scoops onto the crispy and freshly-toasted waffle is strong. But we settled on a double-scoop of Thai Milk Tea and Coconut Kaya Swirl ($13.80), which were perfect complements for one another. If you don’t fancy these, another pair match made in ice-creamery heaven is the Salted Egg and White Truffle. Perhaps due to its far-flung location, Dessert Project remains a quiet sanctuary for an afternoon sweet indulgence.
2. Forty Hands
Forty Hands is a must for the uninitiated to the Tiong Bahru food trail. It was one of the first cafes that heralded the transformation of the neighbourhood, and Singapore’s coffee revolution in the third quarter October 2010. Living in Tiong Bahru would be such a dream – rolling out of bed and sneaking a brunch at half-past-two in the afternoon. They do Eggs Benedict ($18) with a classic flair: Flowy poached eggs doused in hollandaise sauce with crisp bacon and lightly browned roasted potatoes. Complete your power breakfast with an iced latte ($7) or mocha ($6.50) and you’ll be ready to take on the world.
Part boutique store that sells paraphernalia from Singapore’s olden days and part café, Le Halo is indeed a force to be reckoned. Unlike the run of the mill cafes sprouting across the island, the founder and chef, Elia Lim has designed several appetizing dishes that are inspired from our favourite local eats. Don’t miss out on their Otak Egg ($9.50), Piggy Stew ($11.50) and award-winning Eggs Benedict ($14.50). Unlike the standard version, Le Halo's eggs benedict is presented two ways – a full poached egg in gooey yolk goodness, and a cheesy salted muffin cup stuffed with ham and egg with a side of pea-paste, horse radish, cherry tomatoes and salad. A satisfying meal awaits here.
4. Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice
Heed our advice and chope a seat at Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice before lunchtime. It has an aura of a very delicious personality cult in Tiong Bahru. Regardless on a weekday or weekend, rain or tropical sweltering heat, people flock to this stall for a hearty meal of Hainanese curry rice. Offering the most value-for-money plate in the area, it is not difficult to see why it is so popular. All that pork chop, curry chicken, chap chye, kong bak and curry-soaked rice is beckoning you.
5. Tiong Bahru Bakery
This bakery chain has three locations all over our city-state – specifically Raffles Place, TANGS@Orchard and of course, where it all started, on Eng Hoon Street. Despite the misleading name, it is a French bakery providing fresh daily bakes. From time to time, the craving for their best seller the Kouign Amann ($3.50) would kick in. If you haven’t tried it before, we suggest you join in the madness for this simple yet addictive buttery pastry!
6. The Orange Thimble
The Orange Thimble is hands-down the cosiest café in Tiong Bahru, with pricey paintings of the neighbourhood hung around the interior of this space. While we say you can safely skip the cakes and coffee, their Beef Shepherd’s Pie ($9.90) is one of the better ones around and might just convince you to sit through the aloof service here. At least they don’t charge you for service fees or taxes.
Shuffling around in the kopitiam under a block can get extremely uncomfortable, especially on humid afternoons. Yet it doesn’t stop the young and passionate hawkers from dishing out honest and heartfelt Italian dishes. Their menu changes frequently, but we had the joy of trying their Hae Bi Hiam Aglio Olio ($7). This curious recipe actually worked, hit the right notes and could possibly be even better than some of the aglio olio in some restaurants. Even though it comes across as expensive for a meal at a kopitiam, you probably won’t get pasta at this price anywhere else. Note: Ah Bong's Italian opens only between 10am and 2.30pm from Mondays to Saturdays.
8. Tiong Bahru Yong Tau Foo
Sharing the same roof as Ah Bong’s Italian, this yong tau foo stall has a history of slightly under three decades. It has its own fair share of supporters, with the efficiency of a three-man production line to serve its buzzing queue. This simple steaming bowl of yong tau foo ($3.50) is highly satisfying and comforting even in the mid-day heat.
Although Tiong Bahru Market deserves a mention on its own with so many noteworthy stalls, the chwee kueh from this stall has won the hearts of many. After ordering, the friendly auntie from Jian Shui Bo Kueh plonked these springy and soft rice cakes casually on takeaway brown paper, topped it up with fragrant and savoury chye poh and chilli. For just $2 for 5pcs, this delicious treat is such a steal!
From across the street, we could see this café’s confident declaration sprawled on their glass window: ‘We specialize in tarts’. Their tart pastry chefs create these precious tarts in their in-house open-concept bakery. Patrons are free to observe, and perhaps pick up a skill or two. If you’re lazy to roll the dough, here’s an easier solution – grab one from the glass displays. If you live and breathe chocolate, you won’t go wrong with the Baked Dark Chocolate Tart ($8), which is extremely chocolatey. It can get too heavy to finish on your own, so share with a friend or two. Besides that, we're throwing our vote in for the Seasonal Fruit Tart ($8.80) as a must-try here.
This sleepy stretch of Eng Hoon Street hides one of the best chocolate cakes ever. From a short conversation with the lady behind the counter, we find out that these cakes are baked fresh from their bakery studio across the street. Reminiscent of Ferrero Rocher, their Signature Chocolate Pralet ($6) is a decadent, layered chocolate cake with hazelnut praline dark chocolate that gives it both a smooth and crunchy bite. Surprisingly, it was very light and one can finish it easily as a post-meal dessert.
Written by Amie Hu Images: Amie Hu Anything you think we missed? Comment below!