4 reasons to visit Novena this weekend

North of Orchard Road, Novena isn’t a famed hangout spot, but recent cool openings warrant a revisit. But these days, there’s much more to this neighborhood than chicken rice and stationary stores.

There’s now great beer and coffee

Newish unpretentious beer bar Nickeldime Drafthouse has got 15 rotating taps of craft beer from breweries like Stone, Anderson Valley and Buxton Brewing. Here, you can take your own 2L. growler and fill it with any beer of choice for just $30. Plus, they’ve got a beer-centric menu of dishes like stout meatballs and beer crepes.

For people-pleaser suds, head to Extra Virigin Pizza at United Square for the new happy hour. It’s one-for-one beers, like Peroni and Pure Blonde, from 5-8pm on Mondays to Fridays. There’s also La Ristrettos, a coffee bar and Italian restaurant that is home to the only Cafe Agust beans in Singapore. On the food front, the bistro serves pastas, salads and dishes like roast pork belly with poached eggs.

It’s full of local foodie gems

Singaporean chicken rice favorite Wee Nam Kee is no longer located in a shabby row of shophouses. They have relocated to air-conditioned premises in United Square with more rustic marble-top tables and wooden kopitiam chairs. You can’t go wrong with the roasted version of the chicken rice here. A short distance away is also Founders Bak Kut Teh in Balestier. The peppery broth full of pork ribs is great with a bowl of rice, some pig organs and pickled mustard leaves.

If you’re feeling a little more chi chi, head straight to Flavours at Zhongshan Park in Ramada Hotel. The Peranakan-leaning restaurant has a great dinner semi-buffet full of elevated zi char flavors. Make sure to go in a big group as you get to pick two poultry or meat dishes, two seafood dishes, a vegetable dish and a carb dish to go along. It’s a huge spread full of beef with black bean and pepper sauce, butter cereal prawn, assam sambal fish, wok-fried seafood hor fun and other classics.

It’s a health junkie’s dream

The neighborhood is also home to one of Singapore’s first fitness malls (and no, Queensway doesn’t count). Velocity has dozens of sports- and health-centric concept stores like New Balance, Asics and the soon-to-open StarThreeSixty concept store. But if you’re looking to work out, there’s a California Fitness outlet there, as well as an outdoor basketball court that’s used for friendly games, events and sports showcases like beach volley and speed skating on weekends. Not too far away is the spacious and beginner-friendly Trifecta Martial Arts where you can learn Brazilian jiu jitsu and taekwondo. Day passes start at $50, which is cheaper that most other options around town.

You can pretend you’re in Paris

The Alliance Francaise has an upcoming photography exhibition A Traveller’s Reverie (Apr 1) by Olivier Rolland that features 50 photos of Afghan people spanning from 1925 to 1934 when the country first opened up to the outside world. The center also hosts the Francophonie Festival full of film screenings like Incendies (Mar 31), a film about Jeanne and Simon’s journey to the Middle East to uncover their roots. But if wining and networking is more your pace, they also host French Friday where you can network over cheese and wine.