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Amoy Street
Photograph: Shutterstock

Guide to Amoy Street

We round up where to eat, hang out and drink on the buzzy Amoy Street. Additional reporting by Michelle Fong and Ong Huiqi

Written by
Time Out Singapore editors
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Anyone who tells you Amoy Street is 'boring' has clearly never stepped foot down the lane before. Because trust us, it's the complete opposite of that. Previously known for its opium-smoking dens during the British colonial era, the shophouses lined along this one-way street now house chic cafés, bars and even gyms. But if you'd like to have a taste of Singaporean flavour, hit up the hawker centre in the area that's always buzzing with people.

RECOMMENDED: Check out our guide to the Ann Siang Hill area

EAT

  • Restaurants
  • Hawker
  • Raffles Place

Whether you’re on a hunt on the city’s best street art or hungry for an assortment of noodle dishes, look no further than the two-storied Amoy Street Food Centre. It is decked with wall art that reflects its heritage, as well as a smorgasbord of hawker choices, from spicy Thai dishes and hearty congee to delicious pasta and traditional nasi padang. For a caffeine fix, head upstairs to Coffee Break for a cup of flavoured lattes and mochas, in place of your regular kopi. During peak lunch hours (anytime between 11.30am and 1.30pm), queues are long and there’s nary a seat that isn't chope-d. At other times, however, it’s pretty much a ghost town, with few stalls even open during the evenings and weekends. Given the assembly line queues, quality and service certainly aren’t the reasons for coming – the food can be inconsistent at stalls where food is cooked to order – but in terms of a range of options for a cheap lunch, Amoy can’t be beaten.

TRY: Michelin-approved A Noodle Story for a local spin on Japanese ramen. Skip the local dishes for a huge serving of pasta – think carbonara and aglio olio with the pasta and add- ons of your choice – at Chef B Western Delight. Han Kee Fish Soup is a top favourite with its generous servings of sliced fish in a deliciously fragrant broth. Don’t walk out without curry puffs from the J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff stall – there’s a reason why it won the Bib Gourmand.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Tanjong Pagar

After calling Lavender Street home for seven years, Muslim-owned The Bravery is ready to start a new chapter. It begins with a change in location – from a humble café space at Jalan Besar to a two-storey shophouse along Amoy Street.

And it almost feels like a coming-of-age. Gone are the neon colour-blocked plastic sheets that line the entrance. Now, splashes of colour come through in subtler, more thoughtful ways: as lime green banquette, paired with brown rattan seatings, and plenty of natural light.

The updated menu also features heartier additions, apart from usual brunch offerings of pancakes ($14) and cheese toast ($16). Stand-outs include the Cod en Papillote ($39), which involves cooking the fish in a paper pouch. Sealed within are slices of crisp fennel and seasonal greens, cooked in a Japanese-inspired ginger-soy broth. A serving of furikake-topped rice completes this belly-warming dish.

Come dinner, more options come in the form of grilled meats and fresh catch. Homemade crab cake ($16) is a plump parcel well-stuffed with seafood, and Gambas al Ajillo ($16) sees prawns slow-cooked in a pool of garlic-scented oil. The sweet celeriac root mash in the pureblood wagyu deckle ($58) helps balance out the smoky, albeit sinewy, cut of beef.

For a sweet perk-me-up, The Bravery offers a selection of freshly baked treats that are available all-day. Grab a slice of decadent Gateau au Chocolat ($6.90) or the deceptively light Nutella Tiramisu ($6.90), and wash everything down with sips of its signature lavender latte ($6) with fragrant, floral notes; or some iced hojicha milk ($6).

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  • Restaurants
  • Chicken
  • Tanjong Pagar

There's something sensually satisfying about eating with your hands. Maybe it's the return to our primal nature or the extra flavour our fingers magically impart – either way, being dirty never felt so good.

Over on Amoy Street, Chico Loco is leading the mess-is-best revolution. Spit-roasted chicken ($9/quarter, $17/half, $32/whole) is served on trays alongside delectable sides such as the Chicoslaw ($6), a refreshing Thai take on the salad with mango and green papaya; rice tossed with chicken fat and cucumbers ($4) and chips with guac ($7). Did we mention that each chook is brined for 10 hours before it's based in 11 herbs and spices before it's roasted on an open flame? Also trust us when we say that you won't find any dry, shrivelled up breast meat here – each is plump and juicy, just the way it should be.

If chicken's not your thing, don't worry. There's the equally delicious dry-rubbed lamb shoulder ($12/125g, $23/$250g) best dipped in sauces like Chico's smokey chipotle barbecue ($2) or habanero mango sauce ($2).

  • Restaurants
  • Tanjong Pagar

The road map of modern cuisine is often marked with unfamiliar sights and unexpected turns. But at Avenue 87, chefs Alex Phan and Glen Tay are driving things in a different direction – the friends take a trip down memory lane at their newly opened mod-Asian restaurant.  

Their journey began in the neighbourhood of Hougang, where both of them grew up. It was a chance encounter, however, during their training days at the Shatec Culinary School, and a shared interest in cooking, that ignited a bond between them. After school, the two went their separate ways and clocked stints in top kitchens (Alex at Open Door Policy, Glen as executive sous chef at Shanghai’s three-Michelin-starred Ultraviolet) – but a common desire to work together led them on a new path to open Avenue 87.

The name itself holds special significance for Alex and Glen. They were both born in 1987, and spent their childhood at Hougang Avenue 7 and 8 respectively. Memories of growing up, coupled with familiar hawker finds around Hougang, are tapped onto as inspiration for the restaurant’s debut menu. Dinner ($76 for four courses, $98 for six courses) starts off with a crispy chicken crisp – a homage to the pair’s shared past cooking at The Tippling Club. Rather than the usual chicken trimmings served as part of staff meals, chicken breast is jazzed-up, blended down, and deep-fried to create a moreish snack. There’s also a course of kueh pie tee, filled instead with piquant curry of sliced eggplants, semi-dried tomatoes, and curry leaves. It harkens back to the pair's supper favourite – fish head curry from 21 Seafood, a popular eatery in Kovan. 

Sambal stingray gets a makeover, too, under the playful hands of the chefs. Octopus tentacle is the favoured meat, and is first blanched in a stock perfumed with thyme, bay leaf, and onion, then slathered with a luscious sambal made based on a recipe from Glenn’s mother. A crowning of confit egg yolk helps temper the spice and binds together the side of bean sprouts and Chinese spinach. Fish soup is another hawker creation that gets a snazzy update. Locally sourced sea bass from Ah Hua Kelong comes swimming in a delicate anchovy broth. It then gets fortified with some homemade anchovy buttermilk sauce, and finished with slices of compressed bitter gourd (which rounds out the assertive taste), semi-dried cherry tomatoes, egg floss, and fried julienned ginger to create a comfy, belly-warming soup good to the very last drop.

For desserts, Alex turns his favourite snack, goreng pisang, into a plated creation. But bananas are conspicuously missing from the dish, and only makes a sneak appearance in the form of ice cream. Instead, encased within a panko-crusted exterior hides a gooey coconut custard centre. 

Alex and Glen might be taking diners on a new journey down Avenue 87, but it’s one filled with familiar sights. By tapping on their shared past, the chefs prove that a modern dining experience need not be alienating and complicated.

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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Tanjong Pagar

The menu is simple. Either you go with dumplings or noodles at this joint and even with the little choices it has on the menu, it's still difficult making choices. Noodle bowls start from $5 and come in delightful flavours like miso mushroom noodles and Sichuan pork noodles. The crowd favourites are the dumplings and for $7 you can get a whole plate for yourself. Try the pierogis ($8) which are stuffed with smoked bacon, truffle potato, caramelised onion, cheddar and sriracha cream. 

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Raffles Place

Chef Kenjiro ‘Hatch’ Hashida might be a big-name for serving up the finest sushi experience, but at his third, and latest, iteration of the eponymous restaurant along Amoy Street, it is the little things that really impress.

It begins with the interior, dressed with refined fixtures and personal touches. Walk through the torii gates, and pull up a seat in one of three dining halls – each with a distinct vibe. Traditional detached roof peeks through in the eight-seater room, and an ancient 200-year-old sakura wood beam flanks an intimate seven-seater space.

But it is in the main 12-seater space where things get intricate. Wood from hiba trees, found in the Aomori Prefecture where his old house is located, is used to create a sleek countertop. On the ceiling is another stunning detail: undulating textures, made ambiguous to resemble clouds, or mountains, or waves – its imaginative shape a mirror of the inventive food that is to come.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Tanjong Pagar

This cosy restaurant off Amoy Street gives a hip, underground vibe with its hidden entrance (you have to enter via the side alley), exposed brick walls and tiny square windows. A popular hangout for both the lunch and dinner crowd, the Flying Squirrel offers Japanese-inspired cuisine ranging from classics like sashimi ($49/platter of 16), handmade sushi ($42/platter of ten) and lunch bento sets ($19-$30) to the less conventional truffled ebi fry ($15), uni shooters ($22) served with sake and yuzu ponzu, as well as a wagyu burger pâté ($38).

BoCHINche
  • Restaurants
  • Argentinian
  • Tanjong Pagar

Argentine chef Diego Jacquet – formerly of world-renowned El Bulli, and now the owner of two establishments in London (Casa Malevo and Zoilo) – teams up with Spa Esprit Group to school local diners on the myriad flavours of his homeland.

BoCHINche’s menu is laden not only with carnivorous fare like sbife angosto (sirloin, $65/400g) and beef and bone marrow burger ($27). Seafood also gets its share of the spotlight in a sea bass ceviche with onion, radishes and preserved lemon ($18), and crab on toast with humita norteña (a white sauce), marjoram and pickled turnips ($18). Round up your meal with torched mango, rice pudding, and lime and coconut sorbet ($15). If you'd rather let chef Jacquet do the work, choose from the prix fixe menu of two or three courses ($25 and $29, respectively).

The restaurant also offers a selection of Argentinean wines, and stars notable Latin American elements like chimichurri and Venezuelan rum in its cocktails.

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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Chinatown

Western dishes get a Sichuan twist at Birds of a Feather. Inspired by the laid-back teahouses of Chengdu, the café tastefully makes use of lush greenery and eclectic design pieces to create a space you won't mind unwinding at from morning 'til late. Make the café your new workstation – there's free WiFi, charging sockets and quiet nooks to churn out that report or have meetings.

The lunch menu features lighter bites such as the roasted chicken and avocado salad with Sichuan pepper ($18-$20) and Oriental Bolognaise ($20). Despite their names, the dishes aren't too spicy and the subtle kick added is easily manageable, even if you have a low spice tolerance. Dinner is a decadent affair with dishes like the Sweating Mussels ($29), Scottish blue mussels tossed in a spicy and sour broth with slippery and chewy Chinese yam noodles. For something a little less spicy but just as satisfying, there's there Sichuan oxtail soup ($24), a comforting bowl of oxtail and daikon soup served with a side of spring onion arlettes, a French twist on the spring onion pancake.

  • Restaurants
  • Greek
  • Tanjong Pagar

Alati is a Greek restaurant along Amoy Street that specialises in sustainable seafood caught off the Mediterranean coast. The flavours are kept clean, showcasing the freshness of dishes like the grilled Greek octopus that's served with vinegared onions and confit tomatoes, and shrimp saganaki. Not to be missed is the wide selection of whole fish – from European seabass to Gilt-Head seabream – that's served either grilled on in a salt-baked crust. The latter seals in the fish's natural juices, ensuring you get perfectly moist fillets that's best enjoyed with olive oil with lashings of lemon zest.

Aside from seafood, you'll also find Greek classics such as taramosalata, Greek salad and fyllo-wrapped feta on the menu. We recommend ordering a bunch to share for a true Grecian feast.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Tanjong Pagar

Luna is a sweet shop made for Instagram. While its all-white interior provides plenty of minimalist charm to those who swing by its Amoy Street address, it is the picture-perfect desserts that will steal hearts.

Chengdu Restaurant
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Raffles Place

Impressive (or gimmicky) plating aside, Chengdu Restaurant turns up the heat with Sichuan dishes prepared by chefs Qing Jun and Jing Xiao, who both spent more than 10 years cooking in top hotels and restaurants in China. Fiery dishes worth ordering include the spicy grilled frog skewers, fresh bullfrogs brushed with Sichuan sauce served atop a straw boat complete with dry ice. Another classic is the Sichuan hotpot that combines green peppers, millet, garlic and fermented black beans to flavour a stock packed with squid and fish head.

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Nouri
  • Restaurants
  • Tanjong Pagar
  • price 3 of 4

They say you're in good company when dining out in the Amoy neighbourhood – we'd definitely put Nouri as part of that good company. Chef-owner Ivan Brehm already has us hooked on what he dubs as ‘crossroads cooking’ – food that takes inspiration from around the world, draws parallels between cultures, and creates an understanding that all of us are fundamentally the same.

The idea is to connect people over a meal, as evidenced by the handsome marble counter that runs through half the restaurant. It’s not only a place to break bread with your neighbour, it’s also where Brehm and his team whip up your soulful meal – almost as if you’re having a dinner party in someone’s home.

But don’t expect the former executive chef of The Kitchen at Bacchanalia to be dishing out rustic home cooking. The flavour combinations are inventive yet oddly familiar, and the technique is flawless.

 

DRINK

  • Bars and pubs
  • Chinatown

Day drinking is embraced at this bar in Amoy Street, which explains why its doors open at noon. Highlights on the menu focus on dilution; how ice can alter the taste of a drink over time. Its low-alcohol drinks make it friendly for everyone, with creations like one made with watermelon, bay leaf, and rose or another with pear, pink peppercorn, and chamomile. Filtered coffee and tea are also available for those looking for a caffeine fix, with a small selection of finger food that will help line your stomach. A bonus: the clean, minimalist interior is a welcomed respite from the bustle of the CBD. 

Native
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Tanjong Pagar

Waiter, there’s an ant in my drink. Except at this cocktail bar, the insects are there on purpose. Antz ($23) is served with coconut yogurt, aged sugarcane juice, Chalong Bay rum and ants foraged from around Ann Siang Hill. Head bartender Vijay Mudaliar showcases spirits from around the region, and occasionally deploys foraged ingredients to add pep and zing to his cocktails. We hear he's also experimenting with distilled gins and that the matcha is a hot favourite.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Chinatown

Beyond a pink neon sign that flickers ‘Psychic’, you’ll find a bar that will take you back to the Prohibition days of the US. Choose to have your fortune read or squeeze through the mingling crowd to the back of Employee’s Only for a table – like the original New York cocktail institution of the same name, this local off-shoot is a favourite among F&B folks to gather and unwind.

‘Authenticity’ is this watering hole’s calling card. Steve Schneider, a veteran with 13 years of experience and multiple accolades under his belt, is tasked with educating the bar team on the techniques Employees Only is famed for. The free-pouring style of crafting a tipple, for example, is one of the things fresh hires learn when they start as apprentices. And tucked at the back is the kitchen that issues out a Modern American menu – think hand-chopped steak tartare ($27) and bone marrow poppers ($15).

Read our interview with the guys behind Employees Only. 

  • Restaurants
  • Indonesian
  • Tanjong Pagar

You might have heard of 21Moonstone, a creative co-working space along 21 Moonstone Lane that transforms into a hipster bar by night. It has since shuttered, but its playful spirit of juggling work and leisure lives on in its latest concept: Moonstone Bar. Located on the buzzy Amoy Street, this new joint aims to be a ‘modern community centre’ – one where people can come together and connect over events, food, and drinks. 

The menu takes its cue from the interior – a modern, industrial-chic space dressed up with old-school accents – to give you elevated Asian street food. From its lunch menu, slurp up the signature Bakmi Ayam Mason ($10), a jazzed-up version of the classic Indonesia noodle dish with minced chicken, braised shiitake mushrooms, onsen egg, and tofu crisps. Or swap out the noodles for some grains in the Nasi Ayam Mason ($8) for an equally hearty dish – but whatever you do, don’t forget to drizzle in some of that homemade sambal, made from a traditional recipe that’s been passed down from the chef’s mother. Other reworked bakmi variants include noodles topped with Sichuan-style braised chicken ($8), and a ‘sehat’ or healthy version ($8) that’s made meat-free. 

Come dinner, the menu sees other fun creations that include the In.Ter.Net ($12) that combines Indomie, telur (onsen egg), and kornet (corned beef) tossed in a “secret seasoning”; or the K.F.C Sliders ($14), which is the kitchen’s take on the famous fried chicken sandwiched between brioche buns. The Asian inspiration continues with the tipples as well. Sip on the Liang Teh Cocktail ($18), an homage to the bar’s iconic signboard, with its herbaceous and bittersweet combination of gula Melaka, Fernet Branca, and a rotation of gin infusions that can feature chrysanthemum to luohan guo. Or toast to Guinness Draught on tap, and guzzle on yuzu gin and tonic, which goes for just $12 during happy hour. 

DO

Go on a mini art crawl
Photograph: Shutterstock

Go on a mini art crawl

Amoy is also a place for a mural sighting or two (or three). Sketched by local artist Yip Yew Chong, the 40m-long colourful mural behind Thian Hock Keng temple stretches along Amoy Street. In it, Yip beautifully illustrates the early lives of Hokkien immigrants. The work features seven different panels, including drawings of a modern Chinese wedding ceremony and the bustling kampong days. Other artwork includes the dragon mural of Amoy Alley by local artist Chris Chai and the mural of samsui women in Amoy Street Food Centre. 

  • Things to do
  • Tanjong Pagar

Sandwiched between two national monuments, the Thian Hock Keng temple and Nagore Durgha Shrine, Telok Ayer Green sits hidden from the usually busy main streets. Telok Ayer used to be the landing site for immigrants in Singapore and the park is also designed after the original shoreline. You'll find some sculptures in the park which pay tribute to its history like a sampan used to carry goods, a Chinese lantern procession and an Indian milk trader. 

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  • Health and beauty
  • Beauty salons
  • Tanjong Pagar

At this Amoy Street shophouse barbershop, the brooding gentleman’s club vibe present at groom rooms elsewhere is eschewed for a brighter, art gallery-like space, supplemented with chesterfield sofas given a modern, red-hued update, and lovely sunlight streaming in from a glass-covered courtyard space. Borrowing its name and austere personality of the historic Jermyn Street in London, a host of services are offered at a premium, including hot towel shaves ($70), cut and washes ($55-$75), and beard grooming ($35-$50). The services are administered across six chairs by a team of four headed by Steve Chapman. For guys who need constant hair attention, the VIP member package ($650) entitles you to 12 haircuts, to be used up within a year.

Be fit at F45 Training Amoy Street
  • Sport and fitness
  • Tanjong Pagar

F45 uses a combination of high intensity interval training (HIIT), circuit training and functional training in its all-inclusive workout program that maximises fat burning and lean muscle building in a 45-minute session. Each class varies between cardio, resistance training or a combination of both elements. On average, there are 27 workout options to choose from. Prices range from $75 to $89 per week.

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