Apparently, Keong Saik Road is one of the must-see places on the entire continent of Asia this year — that is, according to Lonely Planet. The Chinatown street, once a crime-infested red-light district, has landed itself on the fourth spot of the travel guide’s 2017 list of top 10 Asian destinations for becoming “the poster-child for hip ‘New Singapore'”… whatever that means.
Not that we disagree — after all, Keong Saik Road is our Coconuts Singapore ‘hood and we’re pretty pumped to find ourselves hanging out on this hip street on weekdays (and the occasional weekend). We’re just amused to find this small stretch of road ranked alongside entire cities/territories in other countries. Guess that’s what you get for being a Little Red Dot on the map.
Here’s the list in its entirety:
- Gansu, China
- South of Tokyo, Japan
- Northern Kerala, India
- Keong Saik Road, Singapore
- Astana, Kazakhstan
- Takayama, Japan
- Xi’an, China
- Sri Lanka’s Hill Country
- Melaka City, Malaysia
- Raja Ampat, Indonesia
But besides burger joint/cocktail bar Potato Head Singapore, Asian fusion resto Meta and boutique hotel Naumi Liora — all of which were mentioned in Lonely Planet‘s highlights of the street — the area around Keong Saik Road (Jiak Chuan Road/Neil Road/Bukit Pasoh Road/Teck Lim Road) also boasts some pretty great offerings.
We’ll break it down. Take this as an insider’s quick in-depth guide to Keong Saik.
Let’s talk cafes. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re here to stay, and some of the more buzzy ones include artisanal European-style bakery Bread & Hearth, Loloku for when the poké cravings come calling, cakes and breads at the old school Keong Saik Bakery, and The Populus Coffee & Food Co. for salads, grain bowls, pancakes and plenty of industrial chic vibes.
If you’re looking for good grub and a chill atmosphere, try Caribbean eatery Lime House, contemporary Aussie restaurant Luxe, pop-up space Bistro November (its got a menu full of adventurous dishes), vegan hotspot Afterglow, Mexican burrito specialist Muchachos, all-day happy hour hangout Wine & Chef, and Japanese small plates (with a side of cocktails) concept Neon Pigeon.
For a more expensive experience, there’s always Spanish tapas at Esquina, roasted meats at Burnt Ends, or an ever-changing fine-dining menu at Cure. And let’s not forget hawker legends like Foong Kee Coffee Shop, Kok Sen Restaurant, Yanti Nasi Padang Restaurant, and Tong Ah Eating House.
Even if you’re just strolling around the area admiring the colorful row of shop houses, swing by co-working space The Working Capitol or boutique space Hotel 1929 for design inspiration. And when the sun sets, hit up bars like Phat Cat Laundry, The Library (you’ll need a password to enter this secret watering hole), D.Bespoke, Gibson or Flagship for a round of cocktails.