Jalan Besar literally means “big road” in Malay, and an interesting aspect is that street names are bore after World War I generals and admirals such as Kitchener, French, Maude, Tyrwhitt, Foch, Sturdee, and Petain.
As for names such as Verdun, Sommer, Flanders, these are the names of battle places.
(Note: This cafe guide focuses on Jalan Besar Road, while Jalan Besar GRC is very much bigger that encompasses places such as Little India, Chinatown, Singapore River, Bukit Ho Swee, Kreta Ayer, Kim Seng, even to Whampoa.)
Other than being a culturally rich place which is home to several interesting sights and heritage of Singapore, it is also a wonderful area to enjoy some of the best third-wave cafés and humble dessert places in Singapore.
Here is a list of 12 cafés in Jalan Besar every cafe lover should try:
38 Hamilton Road Singapore 209208
Opening Hours: 11am – 6pm (Thurs – Fri), 10am – 2pm (Sat – Sun), Closed Mon – Wed
Minimalist Grey Café With Cloud Cake And Good Coffee
Lucid is a collaboration between 37 waves – a distributor for professional coffee equipment and tools; and Thought Bakes.
Industrial-grey look with cement flooring, modern matt-silver furniture and a minimalist look should appeal to the Instagram generation.
The menu is kept lean, with offerings of coffee drinks such as Black Coffee ($3.50), Iced Black ($5.50), Strong White ($5.00), Iced White ($6.00), Mocha ($5.50) and Chocolate ($5.00) for non-coffee drinkers.
The highlight will be the Cloud ($9.00), produced in very small quantities, often sold out, and its recipe would continue to be updated.
I thought the presentation of the cake fitted the grey aesthetics very well, almost like a cloud floating on grey skies.
This came with fluffy ivoire white chocolate mousse, filled with strawberry jelly that was not too sweet, on a shortbread cookie-like base. Lucid (Hamilton Road)
161 Lavender Street #01-12 Singapore 338750
Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm (Mon – Sun)
Beautiful White Cafe That Makes You Feel Like Home
This specialty coffee place at Lavender Street is called “Apartment” because the owner wanted to create the vibes of inviting people home, to have chats with coffee lovers at the counter seats, and for them to feel welcomed.
The café fulfils many requirements needed for those ‘mood’ and ‘got-feel’ shots – natural daylight, white space, Scandinavian furniture, locally-designed ceramic cups.
I was recommended the Colombia La Falda ($6.50), a single origin with notes of plum, redcurrant and grapefruit.
It was indeed a well-balanced, refreshing cup with that obvious fruitiness that made a good perk-me-up. One of the best places in Singapore to get your serious coffee fix. Apartment Coffee (Lavender Street)
Chye Seng Huat Hardware
150 Tyrwhitt Road Singapore 207563
Tel: +65 6396 0609
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 10pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Houses The Roastery, CSHH Coffee Bar, the Annex and the C-Platform
Chye Seng Huat Hardware (CSHH) along Tyrwhitt Road in the Jalan Besar district of Singapore, has been one of the most popular places for third-wave coffee drinkers.
CSHH was one of the very first venues that was inaugurated in Jalan Besar when it was only a transitioning stop. The café still holds up to be one of the best places for coffee and brunch.
A popular item would be the Papa’s Breakfast ($21) of comforting eggs (scrambled, sunny side-up, overeasy, or sous vide) alongside Mushroom Chicken Sausage, Hash Browns, Portobello Mushrooms, Sourdough Toast, Rocket and Cherry Tomato confit.
Not forgetting it is home to the PPP Coffee, formerly known as the Papa Palheta brand too.
The Cold Brew is made using Ethiopia Suke Quto coffee beans, designed to be slightly stronger as it would be slightly diluted when served over ice.
The White Cold Brew uses the Throwback blend instead, comprising of Brazil Samambaia and Indian Thippanahali, and is dark chocolatey, creamy-bodied and slightly sweetened.
The Tiramisu Hero
121 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore 207548
Tel: +65 6292 5271
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon – Fri), 9am – 10pm (Sat), 9am – 9pm (Sun)
Tiramisu Speciality Café For The Sweet Tooth
Tiramisu Hero has Tiramisu everything. You get all sorts of customizable tiramisu varieties and even tiramisu beer. It is a whimsical little colourful café that will brighten up your day in no time.
The café mascot is a chubby and furry feline called Sir Antonio – a masked cat with a cape, ready to welcome you.
The signature tiramisu comes in three sizes, the Mini Hero ($3.50 – $4.50), Momma Hero ($7.50 – $9.50) and Papa Hero ($17 – 21)
Other than allowing customisation of alcohol content, sweetness and wetness levels for the tiramisu recipe, The Tiramisu Hero also offers other variations with different flavours infused into the rich mascarpone cream cheese.
But the cafe sells more than just Tiramisu.
They also have a wide range of savoury options including all day breakfast menu, soups, salads, and main courses – Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta ($14.90), Mentaiko Pasta ($16), Waffle Fried Chicken ($15), Savoury Creamy Salmon ($19), Ultimate Mac & Cheese ($14.90), Vegan Meatball Pasta ($16).
88 Horne Rd, Singapore 209083
Te: +65 6293 0329
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm (Mon, Wed – Sun), Closed Tues
Creative French and Fusion Inspired Pastries
Nestled in the hippie enclave of Horne road, Two Bakers is an artisanal bakery cafe run by Le Cordon Bleu Paris trained chefs.
They serve up mains, brunch items, bespoke French and Fusion inspired pastries, and specialty coffees.
For brunch till 3pm, You can look forward to Spicy Crab Omelette ($18), Corned Beef & Spam Hash ($16), Spicy Crab Eggs Benedict ($18), Shashuka ($16), Bak Kwa Stuffed Omelette ($16), Golden Kaya French Toast ($16), Pandan Pancakes ($14), and Earl Grey Pancakes ($14).
One of the popular cakes is the “Pure” ($8.50) of pandan sponge cake topped with desiccated coconut; and nestled within the coconut mousse is gula melaka jelly.
Black Fairy Coffee
131 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore 207553
Tel: +65 6909 3515
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (Mon – Fri), 9am – 10pm (Sat), 9am – 9pm (Sun)
Goblin Burger, Morning Feast And Enchanted Matcha Parfait
The Black fairy coffee is a cafe hanging lightbulbs looking like fireflies fluttering over marble tables.
The offerings include Soy Chicken, Shrimp Paste Pork Belly, Ebi Fry, Thai Style Crispy Fish Fillet, Rustic Beef Stew, Curried Prawns, Cheesy Broccoli Omelette, Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict, Candy Bacon Sandwich and Morning Feast.
Sort of everything under the sky.
The most thematic item on its menu board was The Goblin Burger pulled pork and yogurt coleslaw and smoked barbecue sauce in a brioche burger bun. Though Gong Yoo himself may wonder what’s so “goblin” about this burger other than the name.
Wimbly Lu @ Tyrwhitt Road
166 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore 207570
Tel: +65 6291 8138
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon, Wed – Sat), 11am – 6pm (Sun)
Chocolate Desserts, Crispy Waffles And Ice Cream
Wimbly Lu Chocolates can be considered a familiar name, an “early day” cafes which started back in 2013. This is its other outlet at Tyrwhitt Road.
Food offerings are more or less identical to other outlets, with All-Day Dining options such as Carbonara, Chicken Baked Rice and Beef Lasagna.
On weekends, there are comfort breakfast choices such as Eggs Benedict, Crepes and Grand Slam – their rendition of big breakfast.
Wimbly Lu’s Waffles are probably one of the highly rated around years ago, known for their light and crispy texture.
This is best accompanied with a scoop of recommended ice cream flavors like Rum & Raisin, Honey Cinnamon or Salted Caramel.
Creamery Boutique Ice Creams Singapore
139 Tyrwhitt Road #01-03, Singapore 207557
Opening Hours: 12:30pm – 10pm (Mon – Wed), 12:30pm – 10:30pm (Fri), 12pm – 10:30pm (Sat), 12pm – 10pm (Sun)
Popular Lava Cookie Cafe From Thailand
Using the same recipe from their main outlet in Bangkok, the menu comprises of Lava Cookies, Classic Brownie, and Ice Cream.
Their main differentiating factor from other ice cream cafes will be their Lava Cookies – think Lava Cake in cookie form.
All the ice creams are made in house, and great to see local flavours such as Piko Piko (Tiramisu with Kopiko candy), Black Dog (Guinness Stout) and Ca.Le.Ho.Yo served with honey.
All these go on cookies (choose from lava or non-lava) with flavours of Chocolate, Red Devil (red velvet cream cheese lava) and Monster Matcha.
Get your cameras ready as dramatic lava would flow out when the scoop of ice cream ‘falls’ on top of the lava cookie.
9 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore 207528
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 7pm (Tues – Thurs, Sun), 11.30am – 10pm (Fri – Sat), Closed Mon
Contemporary Oriental Specialty Teahouse With Elegant Pink Interior
Decked in baby pink with a huge circular glass window which resembled that of a full moon, the teahouse eludes a cosy vibe with a double-storey tall ceiling and hanging lights inside.
It reminds me of Nesuto at Tras Street which has the same lady-like, pink vibe, desserts and tea which is also supplied by Antea Social.
Antea Social offers a a small pastry selection and focuses more on their tea selection: Lychee Oolong, Hojicha, Oriental Red and Rooibos.
Each tea set also comes with a small slip of paper which indicates the country of origin, the type of tea leaves and taste profile. Antea Social (Jalan Besar)
147 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208865
Tel: +65 6294 7115
Opening Hours: 11am – 8pm (Mon, Wed – Thurs), 11am – 9pm (Fri – Sun), Closed Tues
Home To Homespun Cupcake Goodness
This café consists of halal certified cakes and cupcakes with premium quality ingredients and handmade love and goodness.
They give the old-fashioned, nostalgic treats a modern twist.
Butter studio have a variety of delicious cakes. Their signature items include the Ispahan Lychee Rose Cake which is a soft and tender layered cake with the sweetness of lychee complimenting the tempting aroma of rose.
Another widely popular one is the Salted Caramel Red Velvet Cake which is their timeless, award winning dessert.
As for the signature best seller cupcake, go for the Salted Gula Melaka which was oozing with palm sugar filling and blended with salted Gula Melaka cream cheese.
[Moved to Everton Park] Gelato Labo
11 Cavan Road, 01-09, Singapore 209848
Tel: +65 8831 3078
Opening Hours: 12pm – 9pm (Mon – Tues, Thurs), 12pm – 10pm (Fri – Sun), Closed Wed
Gelato Cafe With Exciting Flavours
Gelato Labo is located at an inconspicuous corner of Cavan Road, of close proximity to Jalan Besar Stadium.
For those who are bored of the usual flavours, the good thing you always get something different here.
They use only fresh fruits and source for local and organic ingredients where possible in the production.
A scoop for the classic flavour goes for $5, while the premium is priced at $6. Double scoops at $8 and $10 respectively, while a Jumbo Cone is at $1.40.
Flavours include Sicilian Pistachio, Milk Chocolate & Cereal Nibs, Del Monte Banana & Cacao Nibs, Mango and Granny Smith Apply Jelly, Packham Pear & Thyme, Strawberry & Rosemary, 70% Guanaja Dark Chocolate & Valencia Orange Peel, Piemonte Roasted Hazelnut & Chocolate Nibs, but take note these are always rotating.
Chin Sin Huan 振新园
285 Jalan Besar Singapore 208948
Tel: +65 6906 4957
Opening Hours: 8am – 6pm (Mon – Fri), 8am – 5pm (Sat), Closed Sun, PH
2nd Generation Of Famous Tanjong Rhu Pau Opens Café
The name of “Chin Sin Huan” may be vaguely familiar, especially to those staying around Jalan Batu and Guillemard area.
The coffee shop houses Tanjong Rhu Pau, known for its mini-sized Char Siew Buns of slightly-sweet skin and moist pork fillings.
Chin Sin Huan 振新园 along Jalan Besar, however, is a local café concept by the second generation of the family.
They retained the name of the shop set up by their grandfather, and also because it represents “new ideas” and “determination”.
Offerings include its signature Char Siew Pau, Small Pork Pau, Big Pork Pau, Chicken Pau, Red Bean Paste Pau, Lotus Paste Pau, and Siew Mai.
The new venture is all about retaining a part of the tradition, while introducing new flavours with technology in the process.
[Closed] The Bravery Café
66 Horne Road, Singapore 209073
(The Bravery Cafe has closed temporary, and likely to be relocated.)
Hearty Food And Industrial Chic
The bravery café is indeed too true to its name, as it has no signboard or welcome signs anywhere around, running solely through word-of-mouth.
The interior is quite simple, raw and gives off an industrial vibe.
They have a selection of quite food from cakes, brunch, pasta to main courses.
This ranges from Bullseye Steak ($23.90), Maryland Whole Chicken Leg with BBQ Sauce ($12.90), Salmon Fillet ($19.90), Slow Cooked Lamb Ribs ($23.90), Fish & Chips ($13.50), Pan-Seared Seabass to Teriyaki Beef Rice Bowl ($10.90).
Get your hands on their signature Lavender Latte ($5.50) with a rich smooth blend of coffee along with seedlings to chew on, with subtle, sweet floral taste.