Singapore nights, cool to kitsch
Yes, there is life after dark in Lion City. Our pick of Singapore's coolest bars, fun pubs, discos and eateries for all stripes. Soap up and step out for some fun with foam.
updated by staff reporters
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Darkly chic Manhattan Bar at The Regent/ photo: hotel
WHEN the lights go out in Singapore, it’s all schmoozing at power stations and sipping cocktails in chapels. Depending on your location and nocturnal proclivities, this may seem boringly Benedictine or alarmingly electrifying in a droopily sober city where chewing gum can be a crime (unless it's the therapeutic sort) and acronyms are sternly applied to cut the chat. Note to travellers – PIE and AYE are highways. The government has added another item to its do-not list: smoking is banned from all indoor joints. But, if you can take that all in your stride, you’ll find yourself having a ball in the most unusual places, and may thunderbolts strike us down if we are lying.
For jaded travellers, hotels are sometimes the most convenient spots for an evening tipple or tucker. If you’re suffering from a major hangover, better still. There’s Hai Tien Lou at Pan Pacific, Jade (wasabi prawns are a must) at The Fullerton Hotel, and the Regent’s Basilico with a scrumptious antipasto buffet. Popular hotel bars include the 22m-long Atrium bar at Pan Pacific (with a fresh makeover), Bar None at Marriott Hotel, Brix (for some innocently naughty encounters and good R&B) and the mezza9 martini lounge at Grand Hyatt, and Long Bar at the historic Raffles where you'll wade through discarded peanut shells on the floor.
Pop by the cool Manhattan bar at The Regent hotel, with its elegant dark black-leather-sofa arrangement with pin-point lights, clubby alcoves, and 'aged' cocktails that stand in small wooden casks. This is a New York style hip and darkly chic getaway for the beau monde with long forgotten cocktails and palate pinging morsels to set the evening off to a grand start. Or shoot skywards to Shangri-La's BLU Bar or scoot heavenwards at the Swissotel The Stamford. Fullerton Hotel's Post Bar offers chic indoor settings as well as alfresco pours, while sister hotel Fullerton Bay knows how to throw a decent party at its rooftop Lantern bar with its glass-panelled peekaboo swimming pool and grand views. Lantern is a good spot for the evening laser light show too.
But if you care to venture out – and you must – there’s much to see and do. It could be dinner in a chemistry lab, dessert in army barracks (not for deserters though if you'll pardon the pun), drinks at a post office or tearing up the dance floor 71-storeys high… in that order. Now that we have your attention, on with our Singapore nightlife trawl and a look at some cool bars and hip watering holes.
Singapore nightlife is experiencing something of a renaissance with clusters of dining outlets and watering holes popping up in every corner of the island. Not to mention the steadily increasing clubbing and fun pub options. Yes you can have a roaring good time at the Night Safari but when the moon is up you’ll need a stiff martini and a thumping disco floor. Dip into our Singapore bar guide and pick from informal nosheries, starched-linen establishments, boozy beer halls, hilltop belvederes and beach venues.
When the lights go out on Orchard Road
1-Altitude attitude/photo: Altitude
Orchard Road may be more known for attracting shopaholics than party animals, but there are plenty of choices for after-work meets. Just off Orchard Road is the Tanglin Village cluster. The former British army barracks has been injected with new life over the last few years – a laid-back, cool crowd throngs the restaurants, cafes and bars. It’s more like a pre-party stopover. To get there, hop into a cab or take buses 7, 75, 77, 106, 123,174 and 502 from Orchard Road.
Turn into Dempsey Road and you’ll come across an assortment of local fare atop the low rise. Pop by the famous Samy’s Curry (an institution at Dempsey, www.samyscurry.com), or seafood restaurants, Long Beach (www.longbeachseafood.com.sg) and Jumbo (www.jumboseafood.com.sg). Also on the same stretch is Reddot Brewhouse (www.reddotbrewhouse.com.sg), where you can swig home-brewed hops. Grin and beer it.
Dempsey Hill (25A Dempsey Road, tel: 6475-0500, www.dempseyhill.com) houses the majority of the bars and restaurants. House (8D Dempsey Road, tel: 6475-7787, www.dempseyhouse.com), occupying a duplex and comprising a spa, café and bar, is one of the main tenants. The café and bar – aptly named Barracks and Camp – are suitable for informal gatherings. Start at Barracks for dinner and dessert (some of the dishes come served in metal containers to evoke those old military memories) and head to Camp for some cocktails and thumping rhythms after. A DJ is on hand to spin trance music. If you’re fortunate, you might be able to snare one of the outdoor sofas facing the forest. It’s a nice tranquil touch.
Hacienda (13A Dempsey Road, tel: 6476-2922) is one of those places to spend a lazy evening indulging in slowly-sipped drinks and lengthy chit-chats. The garden-themed bar (complete with swings and lounge chairs that double up as sitting areas) specialises in fresh fruit martinis and if those don’t get you high, try the swings.
Trot down Dempsey Hill and you’ll arrive at PS Café (28B Harding Road, tel: 6479-3343, pscafe.com) a favourite with the well-heeled in search of some casual downtime. If you’re planning on having dinner, make a reservation to avoid disappointment. Or drop by slightly later in the night to dig into their desserts – the lime pie is a must-try.
Hip Clark Quay/ photo: Vijay Verghese
Farther down the road is chapel-turned-restaurant, The White Rabbit (39C Harding Road, tel: 6473-9965, www.thewhiterabbit.com.sg). It offers fine dining without the usual stuffiness, thanks to its high ceilings coupled with a bright and airy atmosphere. Hallelujah. Get your fix at the open-air bar – The Rabbit Hole – once you’re done sampling the classic European fare.
Orchard Road used to be home to some of the most happening nightspots in town in the ’90s– namely Sparks disco at Ngee Ann City and Venom at Pacific Plaza. Sparks has since vanished into the mists of time while Venom (later re-branded as Chinablack) was sold off in 2000. The owners of Venom came back with Club Silk, which quickly turned into Club Aura (opened November 2010, tel: 6737-7455) at Orchard Hotel. Down the road is Orchard Towers (notoriously nicknamed “four floors of whores”) where nightlife borders on the risqué. Keep your hands firmly tucked in your pockets and stride by quick. Some of the pretty young things sport bobbing Adam’s apples and deep bass voices. Not someone you’d bring home to mother.
If you’re searching for a swanky yet not too intimidating bar to wind down in, Balaclava Live (tel: 6634-8377) at Orchard Ion is it. A popular haunt with white-collar professionals after hours, it is buzzing with life and live music almost every day of the week.
Go past Orchard, get onto Somerset and you’ll spot KPO (1 Killiney Road, tel: 6733-3648, www.imaginings.com.sg), short for Killiney Post Office. Yes, even Singapore bars get reduced to acronyms here. Part of this two-storey building still runs as a post office by day, while a larger section of it has been converted into a watering hole smack in the middle of a busy downtown intersection. It is near impossible to find seats on weekends, but patrons are undeterred. It is common to find starch-shirt yuppies posing outdoors, chugging beer and ogling all the long-legged eye-candy. Despite its location, you won’t suffer coughing fits and stinging eyes from the cars whizzing by. And it can get surprisingly breezy on some nights. This is one establishment that does not permit smoking even in outdoor areas: you have to be content with lighting up around an ash-tray atop a rubbish bin standing unceremoniously outside the main entrance. The post office may have stamped out smoking but it has certainly put its stamp on the Singapore nightlife scene. Get there post haste.
Acid Bar and Alley Bar at Peranakan Place (www.peranakanplace.com) on Emerald Hill are also favourites for those in search of a more watered down alternative to the usual bustling, noisy nightlife.
Chijmes for convent fun/ photo: Chijmes
After Somerset comes Dhoby Ghaut and this is where numerous changes have taken place. What used to be the former Methodist Girls’ School at Mount Sophia is now Old School (11 Mount Sophia, tel: 6338-7682, www.oldschool.sg), an art hive that is increasingly becoming an integral player in the local cultural scene. The school’s former chemistry lab is now Chalk (tel: 6883-2120, www.chalk.com.sg/chalk/), a cosy eatery serving French-European food. A worthy Singapore dining choice if you want to impress with high romance on a low budget.
Singapore bars, eats, around the City Hall area
This district is a blend of old world charm and city slick when it comes to nightlife, bars and entertainment. Chijmes (30 Victoria Street, tel: 6337-7810, www.chijmes.com.sg) – a convent school in the past – is all colonial grandeur on the outside. But behind its cloistered walls, lining a pretty courtyard and fountain, are a host of restaurants and bars. Party revellers, take heart. Singapore nightlife lives. There are quite a number of clubs and bars in Singapore that entertain patrons till the wee hours of the morning. Insomnia (01-21, tel: 6338-6883) on the first level of Chijmes, is one of them. Open from 11am to 4.30am Wednesdays to Saturdays, and 11am to 3.30am the rest of the days, the place serves Western and Asian fare. Or simply enjoy a seriously good chinwag in the outdoor courtyard until dawn breaks. Head one floor down and you’ll find Club Lava (B1-07, tel: 6339-6696,) where you can work the dance floor to heart-thumping live music or catch your favourite soccer team on the small screen.
Popular Cantonese restaurant, Lei Garden (01-24, tel: 6339-3822) holds court in a lovely position overlooking a courtyard. Here it’s dim sum with a garden view. A useful Singapore dining choice with local flavour. For Japanese grills, there is Gyu-Kaku (01-01, tel: 6333-4001), which dishes out delectable barbeques. A short distance away is Odeon Towers (331 North Bridge Road) where you'll find Loof (03-07, tel: 6338-8035, www.loof.com.sg), a rooftop bar with a cool, lazy vibe. While you can afford to dress down a little, it is one of the to-go hang-outs of the trendy crowd.
Orgo rooftop cocktails/ photo: Orgo
If you want to size up the landscape of Singapore at a glance, take the elevator up Swissotel The Stamford. On the 71st storey is New Asia Bar (tel: 9177-7307, www.swissotel.com), which gives you sweeping views of the city skyline. The view is especially enthralling at night when the buildings and street lamps are lit. But New Asia Bar is not all about admiring the view; choose to chill out over wine or bump and grind to the beat. Music played here is a fusion of the old, the new and the kooky. You might find yourself having to shake and shimmy to Bollywood-inspired rhythms. There are also firmly- grounded alternatives for those with a fear of heights: Introbar (tel: 6837-3322) and Ink Bar (tel: 6431-6156) on the first levels of Swissotel The Stamford and the neighbouring The Fairmont respectively.
Cruising up and down Marina Bay
Amidst looming office towers and shopping malls, you can still suss out worthy watering holes within the short radius of Suntec City, Millenia Walk and Marina Square. Good Singapore bars are never more than a 10-minute stroll away. Paulaner Brauhaus (9 Raffles Boulevard, tel: 6883-2572, www.paulaner-brauhaus.com/singapore) at Millenia Walk is the place to slosh down some icy beer and catch up with your mates. The German pub is decked out with long wooden tables and benches, shiny copper pipelines and brew kettles. The result is a no-frills, down-to-earth atmosphere that is homely and inviting.
Across the road from Fullerton Hotel and by the bay is One Fullerton. The Butter Factory (tel: 6333-8243, www.thebutterfactory.com) is the resident club and plays one of the best hip-hop and R&B sets in town. If you don’t get turned off by mile-long queues, and dancing shoulder to shoulder with various unknowns, you’re in for a fun time. Clubbing isn’t your cup of tea? Well, pop next door to Overeasy (tel: 6423-0701, www.overeasy.com.sg). The waterfront bar is hip with a hint of slouch – patrons, usually dressed to the nines, lounge languidly on long sofas facing the bay, sharing bottles of wine and downing cocktails.
Butter Factory hip-hop/ photo: Factory
The Esplanade can also hold its own when it comes to late-night activities. Check out Orgo (8 Raffles Avenue, 04-01, tel: 6336-9366, www.orgo.sg) located at the rooftop terrace. You not only get to take in the glittering sights of the bay, but also get to sip custom-blend cocktails by a Japanese mixologist. For foodies, there is Makansutra Glutton’s Bay (8 Raffles Avenue, 01-15, tel: 6336-7025, www.makansutra.com) where local hawker fare is peddled until late.
Raising the bar on Singapore nightlife entertainment options in this bay area are two relatively new clubs, Avalon (www.avalon.sg) and Pangaea (www.pangaea.sg) at the Marina Bay Sands Resort (Another acronym tip: it is “MBS” to most cab drivers). Housed in one of the two Crystal Pavilions, this is the place to see and be seen.
But if it’s a fresh bay breeze you’re after, head up to Ku De Ta (Marina Bay Sands SkyPark, tel: 6688-7688, www.kudeta.com.sg) on the 73rd floor of the Marina Bay Sands Resort. Grab a ticket from the hostess at the elevator by Tower 3, and then climb the 200m ear-popping lift to one of Singapore’s trendiest venues. Lounge on one of the big red couches at the open-air bar, or linger for dinner at the casual, modern Asian restaurant next door. Whether stopping in for a tipple or a nibble, the 360-degree vertiginous views of the Singapore skyline are worth the overpriced cocktails.
Fun in Clarke Quay, Robertson Quay bars, Zouk
Boat Quay used to be one of the leading nightlife entertainment districts in town but that has changed. It has faded over the years and while a handful of bars and coffee shops still line the waterfront, it is no longer a top choice for after-dark fun in Singapore. There are, however, a couple of places that you can consider making a stop – Timbre@ The Arts House (1 Old Parliament Lane, tel: 6336-3386, www.timbregroup.asia). Situated along the river at Boat Quay in what used to be the former Parliament House, it is elegant without being too chichi. This is where you can get to listen to popular local bands if music is what you crave.
Nearby, at the trendy 1-Altitude (1 Raffles Place, tel: 6438-0410, 1-altitude.com) – the world’s highest alfresco bar – at the top of the 282m the OUB Centre, drop by to catch a glimpse of the city lights or try your hand at concocting your own drinks.
Hacienda, Dempsey Hill/ photo: Hacienda
Clarke Quay (www.clarkequay.com.sg) is the place to be if you want to be in the heart of the action. A myriad cool bars, fun pubs, restaurants and clubs are assembled here creating an electric atmosphere that sizzles with energy and anticipation. Queues to the more popular clubs often spill onto the walkway and pounding rhythms blast out from almost every other pub or bar. Every Wednesday is “Ladies Night”, where bartenders pour everything from champagne to cosmopolitans for women at no charge.
This buzzing nightspot also serves up a platter of international cuisine: Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Spanish, Moroccan, Turkish… you think it, you most probably will get to eat it. There is the Clarke Quay MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) station, so you won’t have problems finding your way to this party hub.
The place can be a little disorienting, especially on a busy night. There are five main blocks (A to E) to explore and cutting a clear path with people milling around everywhere is no easy task. A useful method to re-calibrate your bearings is to head to the fountain in the middle from where you can then navigate through blocks A to D. Getting to block E is a little tricky as it connected to the main car park building. But there are signboards with maps and directories so do look out for those.
Attica (01-03, Block A, tel: 6333-9973, www.attica.com.sg) is one of the longest-standing clubs in Clarke Quay. Heavily patronised by the expat crowd, the venue is split into two sections. Attica spins groovy R&B beats on most nights, while Attica Two (linked via a courtyard) favours house music. Another stalwart is The Arena (01-08, Block B, tel: 6338-3158, www.thearenalive.com.sg), which provides a good blend of various musical genres.
Crowd-pullers include Zirca (01-02, Block C, tel: 6305-6768, www.zirca.sg) and The Pump Room (01-09, Block B, tel: 6334-2628, www.pumproomasia.com). The latter is a microbrewery, bistro and a bar rolled into one smart package. And it is packed to the rafters on weekends, thanks to good live band performances and an ambiance of playful informality. Shanghai Dolly (01-01, Block B, tel: 6270-7676, www.stjamespowerstation.com) and Rebel Boutique Club (01-06, Block C, tel: 6305-6768, www.rebel.sg) are stirring interest too with their unusual themes and stylish décor.
Attica club and bar/ photo: Attica
Francophiles will appreciate Cassis (01-11, Block C, tel: 6336-2552, www.cassis.com.sg), which has an alfresco dining area that can be pretty romantic at night. Ask for more candles if you’re having difficulty popping the question.
Meanwhile, at Bitters & Love (36 North Canal Road, tel: 6438-1837, www.bittersandlove.com), serious bartenders shake and stir colourful custom cocktails to perfection. Enter behind the Shoebox Canteen, and plop down at the marble countertop for a front-row seat. The atmosphere is old-school chic, with antique-looking tiles and jazzy sounds.
Just outside Clark Quay, do your best to discover Jigger & Pony (101 Amoy Street, tel: 6223-9101, www.jiggerandpony.com), a swish bar serving up 19th-century nostalgia. Cocktails here are of consistently high quality, thanks to a focus on Japanese techniques, fresh ingredients, and timeless craftsmanship. Choose from one of three cocktail categories: classics, forgotten classics and modern twists.
A short walk away is 28 Hong Kong Street (www.28hks.com), where a plain white building houses one of Singapore’s best watering holes. Enter through the unmarked beige door, push aside the dark curtain and step right up to the black marble bar. The drink list has as much character as the New York-inspired surrounds, with cocktails like “Whore’s Bath” and “Corpse Reviver No 2” stirring up a word-of-mouth following. If you’re not sure what’s what on the esoteric menu, the smart servers will guide you through the menu without a hint of pretension.
Down the road is Robertson Quay, another Singapore nightlife favourite. You won’t find any booming clubs here; just a pleasant variety of restaurants, cafes and bars by the river. Those with a sweet tooth would love Canele (05-21 Shaw House, tel: 6735-8858, www.canele.com.sg), a French patisserie and Laurent’s Café & Chocolate bar (01-02, 51B Portsdown Rd, tel: 6475-4182, www.nibschocolate.net) Down by the waterfront you have Brussels Sprouts (01-12, The Pier, tel: 6887-4344, www.brusselssprouts.com.sg) where you can sample Belgian beer and dig into fluffy Belgian waffles. Sit down for tasty tapas and cocktails at FoodBar Dada (01-12, The Quayside, tel: 6735-7738), or try Le Bouchon (41 Robertson Quay, Tel: 6733-4414) for a good steak.
And just a short hop away is Zouk (17 Jiak Kim Street, tel: 6738-2988, www.zoukclub.com), a name synonymous with the local nightlife scene. There is never a quiet night or moment at this Singapore disco and clubbing institution – its wine bar and three main rooms (Zouk, Phuture and Velvet Underground) are thronged with party revellers from dusk to dawn on Wednesdays and weekends.
Sentosa by night, Harbourfront and Mount Faber
Bob's Bar, breezy/ photo: Capella
Sentosa was already a hotbed for nocturnal escapes even before the Resorts World hotel combine came along. Beach bars dot the coastline ranging from pseudo-huts to faux resorts. Siloso Beach is home to riotous (by Singapore standards) New Year's Eve foam parties with a soapland pool for a sensuous slither, loud music, and fireworks. Soap suds appear, under the radar, every once in a while. Watch the nightlife adverts. If you refuse to change out of your shorts and flip-flops, there’s Coastes (tel: 6274-9668, www.coastes.com) on Siloso Beach with its rustic wooden tables and chairs.
Don’t rule out hotel bars just because they don’t sit atop the sand. Bob’s Bar by the pool at Capella is not only understated and classy; it also boasts one of the island’s prettiest sea views and is a great spot to catch the sunset. Indoor alternatives include The Hard Rock Hotel bar, which stands out with its uncluttered, monochromatic décor. And if frolicking on the beach isn’t enough, the Wave House (30 Siloso Beach Walk, tel: 6377-3113, www.wavehousesentosa.com) will certainly crank up the adventure factor. Surf 10-foot manmade waves, get inebriated and prowl the dance floor all in one night, in one place.
There is more to the Harbourfront area than VivoCity… like yachts. These million-dollar boats are usually docked in remote corners of the city, but not anymore. At Keppel Bay – Singapore’s only private island – you can unwind with a glass of chilled wine with sleek yachts within sight. Privé (2 Keppel Bay Vista, tel: 6776-0777, theprivegroup.com.sg/prive), which comprises a bakery, a bar and restaurant, occupies a fair stretch of waterfront at the clubhouse. Cajole and beg to bag a sofa that faces the dock. There is something strangely comforting about gazing at laundered white yachts bobbing on the waters. Take the MRT and alight at Harbourfront. From there, grab a cab for the five-minute drive to Keppel Bay.
You can’t miss St James Power Station (3 Sentosa Gateway, tel: 6270-7676, www.stjamespowerstation.com) – the imposing, red-brick building is right beside the causeway leading to Sentosa. And you wouldn’t want to miss it anyway as the former power station has been transformed into, well, an entertainment powerhouse – all 70,000sq ft of it. Water your beak alfresco at Peppermint Park edged with towering plants, wooden blinds and sofas. For a more sophisticated feel, The Lobby will work well with its dark-hued furniture, dim lighting and quirky framed art. And for karaoke fanatics, there’s Mono.
Breezy views at Breeze/ photo: Breeze
If you’re looking for some serious partying, you will be spoilt for choice. Besides the main club, Powerhouse, check out Bellini Room, where a talented quartet will get you in the mood with all that cool jazz. Feel the need to go global? Amp it up Thai-style at the 10,000sq ft Neverland II or head to Bossa Movida, where music crosses borders and living la vida loca is all part of the game.
Round the corner of Harbourfront is Mount Faber, the third-highest point in Singapore at 106 metres. There are quite a number of rooftop bars in Singapore, but hilltop bars? Sapphire (109 Mount Faber Road, tel: 6377-9688, http://www.mountfaber.com.sg) at the peak of Mount Faber is probably the only hilltop bar in Singapore at the moment. And it doesn’t disappoint with its starry views, crisp air and cool breeze.
Holland Village, Rochester Park, Portsdown Road
Nowhere will you find a more bohemian, hippy vibe than in Holland Village, a name synonymous with Singapore nightlife, though more for its upscale yet informal restaurants. This is a posh residential district. The clustered shop houses have much to offer with a wide variety of bars, restaurants and cafes. Even a wet market and hawker centre situated right smack in the middle of it all doesn’t dilute its unique charm. Wala Wala (31 Lorong Mambong, tel: 6462-4288, www.imaginings.com.sg) is one of the first bars in the area and funnily enough, quite family-friendly. It is common to see kids munching pizzas and parents swilling beer. Its unpretentious, no-frills approach ensures just about everyone feels comfortable hanging out here.
Next to Wala Wala is the slightly more swish Tango Restaurant and Wine Bar (35 Lorong Mambong, tel: 6463-7364). An assortment of cuisine, from Mexican to Lebanese to Korean, can be found here. Across the road from Holland Village is Chip Bee Gardens where a row of quality dining outlets are to be found. Try well-regarded Original Sin (01-62 Chip Bee Gardens, 43 Jalan Merah Saga, tel: 6475-5605, originalsin.com.sg) that serves vegetarian fare Mediterranean style.
Rochester Park, off Holland Village, is also worth a visit. Colonial bungalows set amidst lush greenery have been refurbished as fashionable watering holes and eateries. One Rochester (tel: 6773-0070, www.onerochester.com) is suitable for knocking back a few shots and gulping down potent mixers. The hungry hordes can gather at Graze (4 Rochester Park, tel: 6775-9000, www.graze.com.sg) that serves modern Australian dishes.
Chilling out, local style dining
And then there are those places that don’t fall into any neatly defined districts, but should still be jotted down in your diary. If rooftop bars make you tick, you’ll find a couple along Ann Siang Hill and Club Street. Breeze (33 Erskine Road, tel: 6511-3323, www.thescarlethotel.com) at Scarlet Hotel and La Terraza Rooftop Bar on the roof of Screening Room (12 Ann Siang Road, tel: 6221-1694, www.screeningroom.com.sg) should put a smile on your face and get you started for an evening trawl.
Colonial One Rochester/ photo: Rochester
Just down the road is Lolla (22 Ann Siang Road, tel: 6483-1228, www.lolla.com.sg), a wine bar and restaurant with a whimsical, feminine feel. Crystal decanters and cans of tomato paste line the shelves of the upstairs bar, while sunny indie pop music bops in the background. The basement has an industrial chic vibe, with a 22-person communal table, cool cement walls and a separate champagne bar. But the best and brightest bubbles aren’t all that’s on the menu. Don’t leave without trying the sea urchin pudding, which pairs well with a glass of the Marie Demets Brut. Other nibbles include tuna belly “chutoro” tartare, Tasmanian grass-fed Rib Eye and a fresh, simple tomato salad.
If all the Western comforts of Club Street aren’t for you, dive right into Beng Hiang (12 Amoy Street, tel: 6221-6684, www.benghiang.com/), where a heaping plate of Hokkien noodles and pork belly buns should do the trick. Established in 1978, this address has long been regarded as one of Singapore’s best restaurants.
A crop of new bars and restaurants have popped up all over the former red light districts of Chinatown, especially along Jiak Chuan and Keong Saik roads. Converted old shophouses along these cobbled lanes have retained their charming heritage looks, aside from some splashes of bright paint.
For some Latin flavour, try the friendly and trendy Esquina Tapas Bar (16 Jian Chuan Road, tel: 6222-1616, www.esquina.com.sg) on the corner, naturally, of Jian Chuan and Teck Lim roads. Inspired by modern Spanish dishes, the kitchen whips out an array of savoury small plates such as roasted padron peppers, beetroot salad, beef tartare, baked bone marrow. Wash it down with sangria. Insider tip: the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so head there on a weeknight to avoid the crowds.
Next to the Naumi Liora hotel is a ‘secret’ speakeasy called The Library (47 Keong Saik Road, tel: 6221-8338, www.speakeasy.com.sg). Despite the mysterious vibes, it’s not too hard to find. When you enter the foyer, you’ll be asked for the password. If you get it right, you’ll pass through the bookshelves into a small mirrored room. Push through the door and step into a dimly lit space that has all the makings of a fantastic bar: creative drinks, friendly bartenders, and comfortable seats. The concoctions aren’t your typical ‘mixology’ garble, either. Drinks are served in copper mugs, silver tins, porcelain tea cups, or miniature bathtubs. Yes, that’s correct. The “Shrub-a-dub-dub” shareable drink comes complete with bathtub gin, spiced apple bubble bath and a glow-in-the-dark rubber ducky. (Hint: Check sister-property Keong Saik Snack’s Facebook page for a weekly riddle that unlocks the pass code: www.facebook.com/KeongSaikSnacks)
And the morning after? Follow the scent of brewing beans to Oriole Coffee Roasters (10 Jiak Chuan Road, tel: 6224-8131, oriolecoffee.businesscatalyst.com), where steamy cups of top-of-the-line joe are served amid a fanciful mix of vintage decor and state-of-the-art technology.
For a completely different scene, head to Arab Street, where the alleys are lined with shisha dens, makeshift tables, and friendly faces. Look for a quirky little pub called Bar Stories (2nd floor, 55-57 Haji Lane, tel: 6298-0838, athousandtales.com) perched above the crowded streets, where each cocktail is bespoke, based entirely on the drinker’s preferences.
Sunset Way, off Clementi Road, is nestled within a quiet residential estate and comes alive when night falls. Be sure to stop by Rocky’s Pizza (106 Clementi Street, tel: 6466-8696, www.rockyspizza.sg) — one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to local pizza.
Canopy Garden Dining & Bar (1382 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, tel: 6556-1533, www.canopydining.com.sg), an Australian-style café, sits at the entrance of Bishan Park II and provides you with the relaxing option of cooling off with a glass of wine after a bout of cycling or jogging. If you’re not into cocktails with fancy names and unpronounceable bar snacks, there’s a solution. Do it the Korean way at 2 Days 1 Night (291 New Bridge Road, tel: 6227-6033), a soju-bang (loosely translated as “a place for drinking alcohol”) on Tanjong Pagar Road. Dive into generous hotpots of hearty, spicy Korean stew and wash it down with soju, the Korean version of sake.
So here’s the rundown of some of the to-go places when the moon comes up in Lion City. That’s all the Singapore nightlife and cool Singapore bars that can be crammed into a snifter. Cheers!
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