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Dempsey Hill
Photo: Dempsey Hill

The ultimate guide to Dempsey Hill

Dempsey Hill is an enclave of cool restaurants, cafés, boutiques and more – we pick the best things to do here

By Delfina Utomo
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It's no lie, Dempsey Hill is one of the prettiest places in the city. The lush and green corner just outside the city is packed with great eateries, shops and more – it's easy to spend a full day at this place. What used to be a nutmeg plantation and then later barracks for the British Forces have now been converted to an idyllic lifestyle enclave. Take a day off to properly explore the place and while you're at it, maybe have one of the best meals you've had this week. 

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DO

Open Farm Community
Photograph: Open Farm Community

Open Farm Community

Restaurants Global Tanglin

Dempsey's verdant setting is perfect for the 'gram, and Open Farm Community features a wide outdoor space for you to take your perfect shot. With an edible garden filled with herbs and vegetable produce, as well as lawn bowling spaces and table tennis tables, you can't go wrong. Walk through the gardens and marvel at the produce and also artsy sculptures around. Stop for a meal at the restaurant which focuses on sourcing local ingredients that are grown sustainably and ethically.

Core Collective
Photo: Core Collective

Core Collective

Sport and fitness Yoga and Pilates Tanglin

Is it a gym? Is it a co-working space? Core Collective is both, sort of. It’s a first-of-its-kind collaborative centre that swaps hot desks for yoga and Pilates reformer studios, a functional training floor and a boxing ring – fitness and wellness entrepreneurs can rent any of the spaces anytime to host sessions for their clients. The best part at this joint in Loewen Road? You're surrounded by the lush greenery of Dempsey – plus being a short walking distance to some of the top eateries is a strong motivation for your workout. 

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Trimmings Salon & Spa
Photograph: Trimmings Salon & Spa

Trimmings Salon & Spa Loewen

Health and beauty Spas Tanglin

From hair to nails and spa services, you can pretty much get all your pampering done here. At the salon, little ones can get a haircut from $20 and walk out with fab tresses styled by the experts there. If you’ve got a chi-chi family event to attend, young ladies under 16 can opt for a makeover at almost half the price of an adult’s, and get their nails done with a junior mani or pedi. For a mother-and-daughter day out, indulge in a facial or body massage together. They’ve even got spa parties for kids, with manis, pedis and hair styling thrown in. 

The Wagington, exterior
Photograph: Facebook/The Wagington

The Wagington

Hotels Tanglin

Pamper your pooch or kitty with a five-star treatment at The Wagington. Its luxe suites are equipped with sumptuous furnishings, quality handcrafted soft faux leather orthopedic beds, and high definition webcam to keep an eye on its furry guest. The doggy daycare has plenty of activities for your active furkid to exercise and socialise too. Your dog can beat the heat at its bone-shaped pool. Did we also mention the salon and spa for your pets' grooming and beauty needs?

EAT

COMO Cuisine
Photo: COMO Cuisine

COMO Cuisine

Restaurants Tanglin

Here’s the thing about food: you don’t actually have to travel to different countries to enjoy a well-travelled palate. At COMO Cuisine, the restaurant brings together the best dishes from the luxury hotel’s various properties. So while you might be dining at COMO’s hip Dempsey enclave, your tastebuds will be taking a journey across the globe, sampling Bhutanese momo or dumplings ($12) with a side of essay chilli, or digging into the same aromatic lobster biryani ($48) that’s served at its Cocoa Island property. 

The menu leans healthy, thanks in part to a series of signatures from COMO Shambala, the brand’s wellness arm. Try the popular tandoor cauliflower ($22), which is marinated in an aromatic spice bath of yoghurt, turmeric, garlic, ginger, and coriander before going into a tandoor oven to earn a smoky char. But beyond vegetable-forward dishes like the mangrove crab salad ($24) and golden beetroot ($20), the menu also caters to those feeling indulgent too. If you’re here for dinner, get the Kurobuta pork ribs ($40) that comes with a side of Asian slaw that should really be a dish on its own, or the freshly made pappardelle ($30) with duck ragout.

Jam at Siri House
Photograph: Jam at Siri House

Jam at Siri House

Restaurants Contemporary Asian Tanglin

The intimate space houses an eclectic range of furniture from mid-century antiques and dazzling chandeliers to plush lounge sets dressed in bright handwoven Jim Thompson silks. It's a partnership between a team of chefs and one of Thailand's largest property developers, Sansiri, which also showcases Thai art, design and goods that you can take home to spruce up your place. Settle into one of its many velvet-draped seats and expect to be blown away by food that escapes narrow definition. The food at Jam at Siri House is playful, fun to eat and outrageously delicious. 

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Min Jiang at Dempsey

Restaurants Chinese Tanglin

First opened in 1982 at Goodwood Park Hotel, Min Jiang has long been a stalwart of Chinese cuisine in Singapore. The brand's second outlet on Dempsey Hill is decked out in rustic touches made modern like weaved wooden panels, rattan chairs and large drop lanterns that emit a warm glow over the dining room. Helming the restaurant is chef Goh Chee Kong, who's spent the past 32 years cooking at Min Jiang.

He specialises in both Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine, producing beautiful plates of dim sum – the steamed Goldfish prawn dumpling ($4.80) is extremely Instagrammable, as is the pretty deluxe platter ($38) of blue pea truffle vegetable dumpling, steamed crabmeat, prawn and vegetable dumpling, fried glutinous rice golden pumpkin, and scallop dumpling. Other highlights on the menu include the braised sea treasure soup in pomegranate egg white parcel ($48), where Australian abalone, bamboo pith and dried scallops are poached and wrapped in an egg white skin. There's also the legendary wood-fired Beijing Duck ($118/ordering one day in advance is recommended) carved tableside with eight different condiments. 

Baker & Cook
Photo: Baker & Cook

Baker & Cook

Restaurants Tanglin

This Baker & Cook outlet off Loewen Road in the lush Dempsey precinct might differ a little from the others. Not only is it located in a bright glasshouse with garden views and even a play area for the kids, but it will be the only branch to have exclusive dishes you can only find in Loewen Road. The outlet is also part of a vibrant cluster which includes other names like Plank Sourdough Pizza, Core Collective and Swish Swimming.

The menu has plenty to offer for the breakfast crowd and some highlights include Peter Gordon's Turkish Eggs ($20), a hearty and comforting dish with whipped warm yoghurt, poached eggs, Aleppo chilli butter and sprouted wheat sourdough for dipping. For a sweeter option, the Dutch baby pancake ($22) which is topped with earl grey poached pear, berries, maple yoghurt and lemon curd. Besides the breakfast stuff, you can also order pizzas from Plank while dining in-house, as well as a selection of small and large sharing plates like miso-glazed eggplant ($16) with wakame brown butter, spring onion and cashew; and blackened corn barley risotto ($25) topped with grilled baby corn, sage and goat’s cheese.  

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PS Cafe - Dempsey Road

Restaurants Fusion Tanglin

Imagine having a restaurant so busy that you refuse to answer the telephone at all. Well, here it is. PS Cafe only takes bookings by SMS and does not take bookings at all for brunch on Sunday. But it is worth the wait – just check out the huge pieces of home-made rocky-road on the counter as you walk in. The menu is quite restricted but delicious, and the service is brisk.

Sit indoors near the open kitchen or outside overlooking the leafy environs. On Sundays, expect a 30-minute wait – don’t fret as we have seen some others doing, just put your name down and stroll around Dempsey Road for a while. Though the fare is nothing too different from the brunch usual, the pizzas at PS Cafe are definitely worth trying. 

The Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar

Restaurants Tanglin

With his three-Michelin-starred namesake in New York and countless other F&B concepts around the world, Jean-Georges Vongerichten is no stranger to wooing diners with his culinary panache and stunning restaurant interiors. The dining room is invitingly intimate, decked out with small marble tables and tall white wicker chairs that create the illusion of privacy. 

If you're dining in for lunch, opt for the two- ($38) or three-course ($42) lunch set if you like picking and choosing different dishes. But if you like, you can zone in on some of Vongerichten’s signatures like the cheeseburger with Brie and black truffle mayonnaise ($36) and rigatoni with meatballs ($22). For dinner, order the signature black truffle and Fontina cheese pizza ($32) for sharing.

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Morsels
Photograph: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Morsels

Restaurants Asian Tanglin

Morsels isn’t an unfamiliar name in Singapore’s dining scene, but the restaurant has left its home in Little India for greener pastures at Dempsey. The rustic barnyard-style house features an open kitchen at the back, allowing you to see chef-owner Petrina Loh and her team whip up dishes like her signature steamed venus clams in fig broth and Firecracker Duroc Pulled Pork, a dish that’ll keep you coming back for more. The restaurant also encourages sharing plates so the more, the merrier!

Candlenut
Photograph: Candlenut

Candlenut

Restaurants Tanglin

The restaurant’s space departs from the stark decor of its previous digs in Dorsett Residences. Large straw lanterns hang from the ceiling, weaved baskets deck the floors and vintage pieces like an ice kachang machine finish the look. It’s befitting of a Michelin-starred spot while remaining warm and inviting. Dining here is a communal affair. Opt for Malcolm Lee’s signature ‘ahmakase’ menu ($88/ lunch, $128/dinner) or order from the new à la carte menu. Some Peranakan staples include the kueh pie tee ($20 for four pieces), 'Yeye' white chicken curry ($28) – a family recipe from Lee's family and buak keluak fried rice ($30) which comes topped with an egg. Don't skip the desserts though – they might just be the highlight of your meal. Order Candlenut's Chendol ($13) with pandan jelly and coconut konnyaku and for something different, try the buah keluak ice cream ($16) or the Mao Shan Wang pengat ($16) which a sticky porridge of durian puree, gula melaka and coconut.

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The White Rabbit
Photograph: The White Rabbit

The White Rabbit

Restaurants European Tanglin

We all remember the White Rabbit with the pocket watch from Alice in Wonderland, who leads Alice down a hole into a phantasmic world. Back to reality – and Harding Chapel, where Singapore’s own White Rabbit has emerged from its ‘hole’. This church was abandoned for 15 years but now invites patrons into a restaurant and bar that, with its high ceilings and generously proportioned dining and drinking areas, has the mise-en-scène of a mead hall. There’s more than 40,000 square feet of lush greenery surrounding the chapel. Located at the back of the church is the bar area, which opens to a grassy knoll where a family of animal sculptures made of wire and grass occupies the backyard. Diners return for the desserts: the unexpected crunch of toasted almonds in the crème brûlée is, like everything about the White Rabbit, an unmitigated delight. A chic outdoor bar that lets you unwind amid the lush greenery of Dempsey, complete with animal-themed topiary. 

DRINK

 The White Rabbit’s Easter Sunday Brunch
Shane Chong

The Rabbit Hole

Clubs Tanglin

Gin and tonics and our balmy climes are a match made in sweaty heaven, so it’s probably for the best that The White Rabbit’s little backyard garden’s boosting its drinks programme with a gin spin. A curated selection of gin labels across categories like London Dry and floral are stocked here. Sip The White Rabbit signature gins like chrysanthemum and hawthorne gin and oolong and pineapple gin or branch out to the award-winning Four Pillars Rare Dry, the full-bodied Monkey 47 Sloe gin or the Scottish Isle of Harris gin crafted from hand-harvested sugar kelp and botanicals. Each gin’s characteristics are matched to garnishes like rose petals, strawberry slices and basil – some picked from their garden – and are stretched out with a chosen tonic.

SHOP

Dover Street Market Singapore
Photograph: Dover Street Market Singapore

Dover Street Market Singapore

Shopping Tanglin

Guard your wallets, because Dover Street Market has landed in Singapore. The multi-label store – the fourth in the world after London, Tokyo and New York – stocks 25 designer brands that range from Comme des Garçons and Anti Social Social Club to Céline and The Row. Housed in a converted army barracks with high ceilings, black cage-like grills as racks, and a colourful ‘cashier’ hut, you’d be forgiven if you mistake this for an art gallery.

Bungalow 55
Photo: Carlina Teteris

Bungalow 55

Shopping Home decor Tanglin

After a seven-year tenancy at Cluny Court, the home interiors and accessories store that specialises in the 'tropical bungalow' look have found a new home in the lush Dempsey Hill neighbourhood. All items in the store are specially curated and sources from around the globe by the owner Nina Beale herself. Browse through the beautiful collection of lamps, hand-painted prints, pendant lighting, rugs, armchairs, small furniture pieces and decorative accessories to make your space feel like home. On top of that, Nina also gives consultation services if you need some hand with styling your dream home, as well as help with custom upholstery, cabinets, wardrobes, furniture & kitchens.

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Affordable Style Files
Photo: Affordable Style Files

Affordable Style Files

Shopping Home decor Tanglin

If you have big hopes and dreams for your living spaces and constantly scour interior design magazine pages for inspo, it's time to get out there and start shopping. Lucky for you the collection at Affordable Style Files is pretty extensive and huge – whether you're looking for a beautiful rug to fill up the space or shopping for blinds in the dining room. Everything in the store is curated and picked by Australian stylist Hong Henwood. It's quite clear that she has impeccable tastes because you'll soon notice that you want to buy everything in the store 

Jones the Grocer

Shopping Tanglin

If you’ve not gone down to drool over this posh grocer’s delectable gourmet options, it’s time you did. A familiar name to all food connoisseurs and coffee lovers in Australia, this is the first Jones the Grocer store outside the South Pacific. Since it opened, it has become the place to shop for premium food items for your pantry, and the walk-in cheese room has made many a fromage lover happy and satisfied. For the less adventurous, the store also offers locally crafted cheese and has an in-house fromager to assist with all purchases.

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