The best places to eat at Tiong Bahru in Singapore

Indie cafes, progressive restos and yummy local cuisine—here’s what’s hot and reliable in one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods.

Chic Japanese

, The best places to eat at Tiong Bahru in Singapore

Jumbo prawn tempura, Ikyu


Casual, stylish and not too pricey for an omakase restaurant, Ikyu is helmed by executive chef Takuma Seki of Hide Yamamoto fame and serves sushi, udon, yakitori and tempura options. The omakase set goes for $138, and includes an appetizer, two mains, sushi, soup and dessert. Set lunches range from six different choices like the barachirashi ($28) to the jumbo prawn mentai yaki ($38). For a la carte plates, there’s the grilled kurobata cheek ($33), fried panko oyster ($18.50 for 3 pcs) and chilled snow crab leg ($38 for 250 gm) among a variety of grilled, fried and steamed items.

Bincho at Hua Bee

This yakitori-inspired bar and restaurant by chef Asai Masashi is set in a 70-year old kopitiam (at which Eric Khoo filmed the local classic, Mee Pok Man). Taking his cue from Osaka’s famous food culture, the menu comprises three different dinner sets like Kei (from $120), an eight-course menu of grilled plates like stuffed shiitake with cheese truffle, and squid with herb chicken, YamaSachi (from $150), with dishes that are meant for two and Utage (from $140), a seasonal seven-course menu with pairings of five different sakes. The dishes change according to the availability of ingredients, so check their website before heading down.

Comforting Korean

Big Mama

Tuck into home-style Korean cuisine served in a no-frills diner here. Owner Candy Namgung Ji Young brings her own recipes, sauces and marinades to the table, with fail-safe meat-driven specialities like dakgalbi (pan-fried chicken, $18), suyuk (steamed pork belly, $25 and $40) and BBQ pork set with a pork collar and pork belly in soya sauce ($20 for two persons).

Local Italian

Ah Bong’s Italian

Unpretentious, home-style comfort fare is what you’ll get at this stall, which is housed an old-school kopitiam. Owner Chris brings diners to familiar territory with safe pasta renditions like bacon & wombok ($7), Lala ($8), with linguine, chili and white wine, and spicy zucchini ($7), with spicy pesto, linguine and black pig bacon. It’s not traditionally Italian, but it works.

Cafe Fare

40 Hands

This cafe needs no introduction. Practically an institution at Tiong Bahru (they were part of the first wave of indie coffee joints in the neighborhood), the intimate space is popular among the lunch crowd. 40 Hands brews up a curated menu of joe – choices range from espressos, long blacks, cappuccinos and flat whites to lattes, accompanied by brunch mainstays like eggs benedict and homemade granola and grilled sandwiches. Don’t miss the cubano.

Tiong Bahru Bakery

Pastries, desserts and coffee may be their specialties, but the bakery-slash-cafe also offers a smattering of sandwiches. The chain’s money maker has to be the kouign amman (from $3.50), a crispy and buttery layered pastry resembling a cross between a croissant and a roll. Coffee is kept (relatively) restrained with just 11 variations like espressos, flat whites and macchiatos, and non-caffeinators can opt for a small selection of fresh juices, artisan teas and sparkling sodas.

, The best places to eat at Tiong Bahru in SingaporeOpen Door Policy

Open Door Policy

The bar and open-concept bistro boasts a menu by chef Ryan Clift of Tippling Club so expect plenty of rustic, produce-driven plates. The regular lunch and dinner menu features dishes like kale broth ($18), octopus terrine ($21), kangaroo filet ($34) and roasted barramundi ($26), while brunch sees indulgent mains like ham and cheese croquet madame ($26), roast wagyu rump ($30) and truffle scrambled eggs with oyster ($24) promising a satisfying breakfast. 

Plain Vanilla

Have their overly sweet cupcakes if you must, but we are glad this bakery has expanded their food choices to include quick but solid lunch offerings like salads (tuna nicoise, butternut squash saffron with rice), house made granola and yoghurt, grilled sandwiches (prosciutto and truffle, jambon royale) and even Marmite toasts. Not hungry? Then order their freshly-made tarts, pastries and muffins to go.

Authentic Local Fare

Ah Chiang’s Porridge

Go back to basics with a traditional bowl of Chinese porridge. Owner Cher Kee Chiang, or Ah Chiang, started his porridge stall at Tiong Poh road in 1971 and the menu covers almost all bases. It has choices like fish, century egg and pork porridge that go great with sides such as fried fish skin ($2.50) and boneless chicken. If you want a more substantial meal, we recommend adding on stir-fry dishes like frog leg with ginger and spring onion ($8) or the cuttlefish with kang kong ($8).

Loo’s Hainanese Curry

When all you want is a simple and satisfying meal, the Hainanese curry rice, a messy plate of pork chop, rice and vegetables generously drizzled with curry, will put these cravings to rest. Loo’s Hainanese Curry, a popular fixture in a non-descript kopitiam at 57 Eng Hoon Street, specializes in this iconic dish and other gravy-drenched sides like squid, sweet and sour pork, and braised vegetables.

Old Tiong Bahru Bak Kut Teh

It’s an all-time Singaporean favorite—bak kut teh, or pork ribs cooked in an herbal or pepper stew, is the go-to for late night revellers or stormy nights. Tuck into this cozy dish, and make it a spread with sides like salted vegetables, pig’s trotters, braised tofu and fried dough fritters.

The Tiong Bahru Club

In a refreshing change of affairs, this retro-chic, kopitiam space serves Indian/local plates but has none of the same-y velvet drapes, Persian carpets, Mughal paintings schtick. On the menu is a small selection of tandoori meats, a couple dals and biryanis, all very good, along with some local and Eurasian stir-fries and curries.

Essential Zi Char

Long Ji Zi Char

First up, the stall’s (57 Eng Hoon Street, #01-72) crab bee hoon ($55 per kg), cooked wok-hei style, is what you should be ordering. Served in a creamy broth, this dish is a signature here. Other must-tries at this hidden gem are the deep fried with salted egg sauce and curry leaves, stir-fried jing long chye with bean sprouts ($10) and the tofu with cereal and pumpkin sauce ($10).

Ting Heng Seafood

An established and well-known favorite among locals, this no-frills Chinese joint serves reliable local home-style dishes best shared in a boisterous group, like hor fun, fried rice, steamboat, sambal kang kong with cuttlefish and even fried pigs intestines .

Hawker Essentials

It’s practically an institution for local hawker dining in Singapore—the famous Tiong Bahru Market boasts popular stalls like Lee Hong Kee Roast (#02-60), known for its Cantonese-style roasts; Tiong Bahru Pau (#02-18/19), which has dim sum offerings besides its well-known pork and chicken buns; Lor Mee 178 (#02-58), for braised noodles with thick gravy; Hui Ji Fishball Noodles and Yong Tau Foo  (#02-44), known for its freshly-made fish balls, and Jian Bo Shui Kueh (#02-05), which has built a reputation for its tasty steamed rice cakes topped with pickled radish.

Local Pastries

Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastries

Forget cupcakes, waffles and other twee hipster sweets—this unassuming old-school bakery offers local tea-time confectionary like Nyonya kuehs, traditional cakes, tarts and cookies that are all freshly-baked and quite simply, the real deal.