Explore Singapore: Accela’s Guide to Chinatown

Once an unassuming region for Chinese immigrants, Chinatown has blossomed into an area with trendy restaurants and bars while retaining its historical value through its places of worship and traditional medicine halls. Walking through the narrow streets, it feels like a hidden gem in the center of the city, waiting to be discovered for its...

5 June_Chinatown photo

Once an unassuming region for Chinese immigrants, Chinatown has blossomed into an area with trendy restaurants and bars while retaining its historical value through its places of worship and traditional medicine halls. Walking through the narrow streets, it feels like a hidden gem in the center of the city, waiting to be discovered for its intricacies.

As we prepare to move to our new office at the CIDC building, just a stone’s throw away from the historic People’s Park Complex, we’ve rounded up a few spots in the area we look forward to exploring further.

 

Chinatown Heritage Centre 

What better way to familiarize ourselves with Chinatown than taking a walk down memory lane at the Chinatown Heritage Centre? Located in a shophouse along Pagoda Street, the museum consists of six interactive galleries that recreate the living conditions of Chinese immigrants in the past. View how the migrants lived in the infamous “8 by 8” quarters, filled with traditional ornaments in such detail, you may momentarily forget you are in a set-up of the past.

What’s more, visitors can step into the shoes of iconic Chinatown characters, such as the Samsui women or trishaw riders, via its multimedia guides. The museum also hosts seasonal craft workshops and story-telling sessions for those who prefer to embark on their own journey. Whatever you choose to do, touring this historical destination will either evoke a sense of nostalgia or open your eyes up to a realm you never thought existed in this modern town.

Address: 48 Pagoda Street, Singapore 059207

Opening hours: 9am-6:30pm daily

Contact: 6224 3928

 

Sago House, Singapore 

What about tipples you ask? We’ve got you covered. Presenting the new kid on the block: Sago House, a cozy new bar that opened on Sago Street in July after weeks of circuit breaker. The menu features six core drink styles: martini, old fashioned, sidecar, flip, highball and sour, with six drinks based on one of these core styles featuring different flavors each week, keeping things fresh and balanced.

The bar is the brainchild of three industry veterans, including former Monkey Shoulder brand ambassador Jay Gray, Spiffy Dapper owner George C Abhishek and Desiree Silva, formerly of 28 Hong Kong Street and EC Proof. The trio built the bar by hand from scratch, doing most of the fixtures themselves sans the aircon installation and some plumbing.

This humble 35-seater new bar will definitely attract personalities of a certain kind and it’ll be interesting to see how the bar evolves over time.

Address: 40B Sago Street Singapore 059029

Opening hours: Wednesday-Sundays, 6pm-1030pm

Contact: www.sagohouse.sg

 

Dong Bei Ren Jia (北人家)

What is Chinatown without a taste of authentic Chinese food? One of our favorite spots is Dong Bei Ren Jia (东北人家), serving up Chinese cuisine that seems to originate from Northeast China, going by the name of the restaurant.

Don’t be surprised by the loud boisterous noise upon entering the restaurant. The place is known to be popular with Chinese expats, locals and the occasional international businessmen, who gather in groups to engage in hearty conversations.

The restaurant offers dishes like the Sichuan Mapo Tofu, Stir Fry Beef and Sichuan Boiled Fish, which are all a hit with our team. What really stole the show had to be the Salted Egg Fried Pumpkin –crispy, sweet and salty all at once. The quality and quantity of the dishes make it one of the more authentic Chinese restaurants around and is a must visit if one is around the area.

Address: 22 Upper Cross St, Singapore 058334

Opening hours: 11am-11pm daily

Contact: 6224 5258

 

Mei Heong Yuen Dessert 

Craving something sweet? Drop by Mei Heong Yuen Desserts for some snow-ice desserts. They are flavored ice sheets piled on top of one another to create a mini-tower similar to Ice Kachang but tasting more like the popular Korean Bingsu. The texture is feathery, sweet, creamy and ice-cold – and tastes like eating clouds as it dissolves in your mouth almost instantly. There are over 20 flavor options including mango, cendol and even durian; our novel must-tries include the green tea and sesame.

The store also serves up traditional Cantonese desserts like Mango with Pomelo Sago and Almond Paste, and other snacks like the Chee Cheong Fan and Glutinous Rice with chicken if you’d like something savory to go along with your sweets.

Address: 63-67 Temple St, Singapore 058611

Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 12pm-9:30pm, closed on Mondays

Contact: 6221 1156

 

Moving to a new neighborhood means new opportunities for exploration – and this is just the tip of the iceberg. The juxtaposition of history and modernity becomes more intriguing as one journeys through the area, finding bars alongside places of worship and historical sites in the midst of hip cafes. It is definitely a region of must-see for both tourists and locals alike.