Tiong Bahru was the ‘pioneer’ of the third wave café hotspots, giving rise to a number of hipster / indie / nostalgic-themed cafes in the vicinity.
While Tiong Bahru was getting too saturated with cafes at one point in time, newer businesses were moving to nearby Jalan Bukit Ho Swee.
To date, 4 of the key ones are still surviving. Le Halo has said its goodbye.
This stretch along Havelock Road is known for its cheap and good eats, peppered with Teochew porridge stalls, old-school Chinese restaurants and a famous Bak Kut Teh shop. Most of the original shops are long gone, and we are starting to see cafes open up in the most unexpected of places.
4 Cafes At Jalan Bt Ho Swee
Sin Lee Foods
Blk 4 Jalan Bukit Ho Swee #01-164 Singapore 162004
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 9pm (Tues-Fri), 9am – 9pm (Sat), 9am – 6pm (Sun), 11:30am – 6pm (PH), Closed Mon
Sin Lee Foods is easily the most popular and known café in the Jalan Bt Ho Swee district, branded as a heritage café. Though the only thing really nostalgic about it, is the estate and the former signboard it retained.
Sin Lee called their Fried Chicken & Waffles ($21.90) “The One & Only”. Again, I blinked my eyes a moment, at $21.90.
This is what I would call “delicious grub food”. The deep fried chicken leg meat laid on top, all tender and moist, could feed two hungry men. If only it was less salty. And fortunately, the house slaw at the side helped ease out the greasiness.
Other recommended items are the Salted Egg Sweet Potato Fries ($12), Aburi Broccoli Salad ($13), Beef & Grains ($25), Spam Fries ($12) and DURIAN Waffles ($18). (Read: Sin Lee Foods Bt Ho Swee)
Cream & Custard
46 Jalan Bukit Ho Swee #01-894 Singapore 160046
Opening Hours: 11am – 7pm (Mon – Sat), Closed Sun
Bakery cafe Cream & Custard opened by Melissa Hoe, is located at an inconspicuous Blk 46 of an olden estate.
Cream & Custard specialises in cakes and tarts, selling a variety such as Lychee Rose ($6.00), Black Forest Dome ($6.80), The Black Ball ($9.80), and Praline Chocolate Crunch ($6.80).
They had a new lease of life when their Strawberry Watermelon Cake ($6.80), presumably inspired by Black Star in Sydney, became a hit,
Their “Galaxy” ($8.80) was recently featured on Insider Food, and the chocolate base cake made with 72% Valrhona dark chocolate blackcurrant jelly, is also flying off the shelves. Good for them! Cream and Custard (Bt Ho Swee)
The Tastemaker Store
Blk 22 Havelock Road, #01-705 Singapore 160022
Opening Hours: 11am – 6pm (Mon, Wed, Thurs, 10am – 9pm (Fri, Sat), 10am – 6pm (Sun), Closed Tues
The Tastemaker Store feels different from the other cafes in terms of vibes – laid back, simple and uncluttered. Primary colours of white and earth are accented with touches of green from the potted plants. The type that you would film for magazines. No wonder they are frequently featured.
Food served is uncomplicated with a local twist, as they try to experiment with flavours and refine recipes we are already familiar with.
I was recommended to try their Lemon Curd with Clotted Cream spread across hot muffin buns ($3.00). Perhaps the only café in Singapore to serve local savouries of Glutinous Rice ($3.80) and Yam Cake ($3.80), it could be a necessary move for The Tastemaker due to its location. Many Teochew-nang in the vicinity.
They have recently expanded the menu to serve savouries such as Curry Chicken Rice ($6.50) Crabmeat Fried Rice ($8.50) and Seafood Hor Fun ($6.80) – all in their signature metal containers. (Read: The Tastemaker Store Havelock Road)
22 Havelock Road #01-673 Singapore 160022
Opening Hours: 12pm – 930pm (Mon-Tues, Thurs, Sun), 12pm – 11pm (Fri-Sat), Closed Wed
Dessert Project is an ice cream café at Jalan Bt Ho Swee (really near Havelock Food Centre side) serving Shibuya style Toasts, Waffles, Lava Cakes and Coffee.
The cafe serves up ice cream ($3.80 for single scoop, $4.20 for premium flavours) with some rather varied flavours – think White Truffle (seriously, it almost reminded me of truffle fries), Parma Ham with Melon, and White Rabbit Candy. Loved the textures, though slightly sweet.
MRT : EW17 Tiong Bahru Station, Exit B (10-15 min walk)
Lower Delta Road, Bus Stop A (Bus stop no. B10381) : SBS 14, 32, 64, 65
Tiong Bahru Road, Bus Stop B (Bus stop no. B10169) : SBS 5, 16, 33, 63, 123, 195, SMRT 851, NR5