Are you visiting Singapore or just moved here? Not only you have to get to the iconic corner street where is located Potato Head for your Singapore photo memories, but it is where Keong Saik Road is located. It is one of these roads you simply can’t miss as you will find there many of Singapore’s nicest trendy bars and culinary gems.
But first, a little bit of history! In the 1960s, Keong Saik Road was a red-light district with quite many brothels run by secret societies and located in the three-storey high shophouses flanking either side of the street. These house are what give today a special character to the street. They are still intact because it was given conservation status by the Urban Redevelopment Authority on 7 July 1989, now considered as in the conservation of Bukit Pasoh Conservation Area.
It is most special to think that those cute looking facades of these establishments are in fact sex dens that have since been transformed into smart hotels with rooms that can cost up to SG$200 (~US$150) a night, boutiques and fine-dining restaurants. As the market keeps asking for it, more speakeasies, eateries and edgy places, some of which can only be entered with a password, keep opening to entertain Singaporeans and its Expats.
Things to do on Keong Saik Road
Well, I will be honest, I just arrived in Singapore and yet had the chance to discover all the fancy pansy eateries and bars around. The most important thing we know though is the local restaurants you MUST try on Keong Saik Road. The most iconic spot of Keong Saik Road is most definitively the Tong Ah building right at the crossroads of Keong Saik and Teck Lim Road, today known as the Potato Head Folk venue. It is an art-deco structure on a triangular island block which you could compare as Singapore’s mini and edgier version of New York City’s Flatiron Building.
Bars in Keong Saik
Keong Saik is not only our favourite spot in Singapore for photos, it is among the Mecca areas of Singapore to go have a drink or bar hop! Many great bars a located there, including The Old Man, which has recently been crowned N.42 on Asia’s Best Bars 2021 ranking. It is an unique I-shaped open bar concept, with a lounge at the back ideal for larger groups. Drinks there are named after one of Ernest Hemingway’s novels. Come say hi to the lovely founder Andrew Yap and bar manager Kaustubh Singh Negi.
Speaking of rankings, there’s another hidden gem of Singapore’s cocktail scene, Juan Yi Jun and Jessica Hutchinson’s No Sleep Club, ranked N.8 on Asia’s Best Bars 2021. The two veterans of Singapore’s bar scene, with this pandemic, has created this funky one-stop-shop for people to order their coffee at anytime like the evenings and their drinks anytime as well! Feeling like a 10AM drink? No problem. Of course, find food and cakes here as well!
For something that makes you want to mesmerize about travel, a stop is mandatory at Kafe UTU, Singapore’s 1st African Themed Café. With no reservations system, due to its popularity, you better have a plan B just in case, but there are plenty of choices around! We love this place because of its beautiful African inspired decor but also its very talented Bar Manager Joma which will make you Kafe UTU’s delicious signature cocktails, some even made with spirits made in Kenya and other parts of Africa. Kafe Utu also serves food from East and West Africa and their specialty coffee is a MUST.
There are many other suggestions but we will slip in this mini guide a last stop: Potato head Folk! Potato Head Folk is from the same popular beach club in Bali. Their rooftop bar is fantastic for a 4PM Aperol Spritz and Studio 1939, at the third floor, is defiantly a nice place to go as well for a curated cocktail menu by head bartender Gavin, in which you get to explore modern and creative twists on famous traditional drinks. You can read our latest Studio 1939 @ Potato Head Singapore: A “Back Into Time” Cocktail Menu review.
Restaurants in Keong Saik
To continue on the story of the iconic Potato Head building, you can notice quite apparent Chinese characters that are still on the building mean “Tong Ah” and use to be an eatery that actually has moved a couple of steps away on the same street. Tong Ah is actually a local place you must go try if you are looking to eat at a traditional local eatery. Make sure to order some delicious clay pot chicken and beancurd topped with minced pork, as recommended by many fans of the place.
Tong Ah Eating House is located at 35 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089142, Tel: + 65 6223 5083 – Open daily 7-10PM
Kok Sen is the other place you must go feast at least once in your Singapore journey. It is mostly known for its Tze Char cuisine. Kok Sen is considered as Singapore’s most popular Tze Char spot, so you can’t miss out on going there as well for dinner some time whilst you’re around Singapore. Get the popular Big Prawn Hor Fun and Claypot Yong Tau Foo, absolutely delicious. The great news is that it serves halal clay pot too so good for you folks from the Middle East!
Kok Sen Restaurant is located at 30B Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089137, Tel: +65 6223 2005 – Open daily 12-2PM, 5-10.30PM.
Tong Ah and Kok Sen are maybe the last two real traditional Singaporean eateries left on in the street and very well worth your visit!
On the cheaper side, you can go to Foong Kee Coffee Shop for some Malaysian style roast meats with rice or noodles for only SG$3.50++. Get some delicious Char Siew or Sio Bak roasted pork if you like fatty bits as I do! On top of that, get delicious crunch to it, just writing it down makes me hungry!
Foong Kee Coffee Shop is located at 6 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089114. Tel: +65 9181 1451 – Open Mon-Sat 11AM-8PM and closed on Sundays.
For some Caribbean food, Limehouse is a must, they actually also have a bar! The popular and well praised Olivia Restaurant & Lounge is also in the area serving Barcelonian-inspired flavours. Drop by to try multi-award-winning chef and co-founder, Alain Devahive’s restaurant!
In a nutshell, there are so many places to go eat and drink in Keong Saik, we have not even scratched the surface.
Looking forward to discovering more of this beautiful neighbourhood in order to recommend you more. My oh my I am excited. Please do leave us a comment below if you have suggestions and things you suggest us to try!