Farrer Park
Photograph: Eugenia Clara/Unsplash

The ultimate guide to Farrer Park

This emerging suburb was once home to Singapore's first turf club, but it is now the go-to spot for foodies and coffee lovers

Dewi NurjuwitaMingli Seet
Contributor: Mingli Seet
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A stone's throw away from the colourful ethnic enclave of Little India is Farrer Park. The up and coming suburb is not to be confused with the uppity Farrer Road off Bukit Timah. Once home to an old racecourse by the same name (or the Serangoon Road Race Course) in 1842, the neighbourhood is now an emerging cool neighbourhood with cool cafes, old school eateries and mega shopping malls that contrast against some of Singapore's most important temples and cultural monuments. 

RECOMMENDED: The ultimate guide to Singapore's neighbourhoods 

Do

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Kallang

Be prepared to forget everything you thought you knew about art. Perched atop Emily Hill, Kult Studio & Gallery is a refreshing studio space for “rebel creatives from all over the world”. Their originals by local artists are going for $200-$500. Need ideas? We love Mindscapes by Deepika Das ($300), an artwork on vinyl record inspired by 80s music (specifically Pink Floyd), and Doppelganger by Gabriel DeSouza, a skeletal painting made from gold ink on black paper.

  • Things to do
  • Kallang
Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple

Visit one of the oldest (and most important) temples in Singapore, dating back to 1885 when influential community leaders with close working links with the East India Company wanted to build a Hindu temple for Vaishnavite worship. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the majestic temple features decorations of the deity in his many incarnations. Statues of him, his consorts and Garuda (the bird he flies on) can be seen inside.

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  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Kallang

Get inspired by Farrer Park's creative, entrepreneurial spirit and pick up a paintbrush at Heartroom Gallry, located right next to the iconic Pek Kio Market. Relax and unwind with the gallery's art jamming sessions, where you can unleash your inner Monet or just bond with your loved ones. There are art classes for both adults and kids available, ranging from decorative painting (or tole painting or folk art painting), manga drawing classes and calligraphy classes. 

  • Sport and fitness
  • Leisure centres
  • Kallang

They say everywhere can be a playground – that's certainly the case for Airzone, the world's first indoor suspended net playground that welcomes both the young ones – and the not too young as well. Occupying the atrium space between different floors in City Square Mall, be prepared to explore the multiple play areas where you can dive in a ball pit, crawl through a maze, climb to the top and try out the slides or just hang out on the suspended nets. 

Eat

  • Kallang

Situated in the quiet stretch of Rangoon Road, this stylish restaurant attempts to meld Japanese, French and Singaporean flavours into the thought-driven 10-course experience ($298). From the sleek dark-wood dining counter and unrestrained floral arrangements to custom crockery, each touchpoint is highly tailored. And so is the food. Helming the kitchen is chef Tariq Helou, previously the co-founder of the popular Division Supper Club. Now, he taps into his roots to reinterpret his favourite childhood flavours using the finest ingredients. Expect innovative dishes such as sake-stewed Japanese abalones and local prawn-mee-inspired cold ebi somen to the exquisite foie gras monaka and highly sought-after Hida Wagyu.

 

  • Italian
  • Kallang

Bruno exudes the ambiance of an authentic Italian homestay, where a warm Italian family welcomes you into their humble abode and treats you to their cherished grandmothers’ recipe. With more than a decade-long presence, this Italian restaurant has established itself in numerous locations, including Farrer Park. Start off with their delectable prosciutto melone priced at ($27), then savour the authentic flavours of linguine al granchio creama ($28), and their fully-packed calzone ($27). Other dishes worth your stomach includes their French onion soup ($14), and duck confit ($35). End off your evening with a classic tiramisu ($12) or torta di cioccolat – a warm hug in the form of a lava cake ($14). We highly recommend bringing along a friend or two when visiting Bruno as having someone to share the dishes with will allow you to sample their wide variety of dishes. 

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  • Bakeries
  • Kallang

Located along Owen Road, this unassuming bakery may appear small and is easily overlooked, but its bread selection will not disappoint. The bakery specialises in artisanal and natural baked goods, made with premium ingredients and natural processes for exceptional flavour and texture. Indulge in their assortment of bagels, croissants, Kouign-amann, croque monsieur, fruity danishes, cruffins, and decadent tarts, with most items priced below $15. Additionally, they offer classic varieties like pain au levain, country loaf, and traditional baguettes.

  • Burgers
  • Kallang

Nestled on the third floor of Trio Building, you'll discover a secret retro hideout where exceptional burgers and craft beers are served separately. The burger selection spans from classic beef ($8.50) and What The Fish ($9), to crispy pork belly ($9.50). The gastropub exudes a relaxed atmosphere, with an open kitchen that enhances the overall ambiance. Satisfying sides such as hand cut fries ($2.90) and loaded nachos ($9.50) are also available. And just a fun fact, Lil's Taproom holds the licensed name Hambaobao Pte Ltd which interestingly happens to be the same name as McDonald's.

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  • Hawker
  • Kallang
  • price 1 of 4
Pek Kio Market and Food Centre
Pek Kio Market and Food Centre

There’s a certain old-world charm to Pek Kio Market – and we’re not just talking about the sleepy ambience. A ten-minute walk from Farrer Park MRT station, it's an underrated food centre with a wide variety of affordable food options. Most dishes start at $3 for huge portions, but you'll have to head down early as most stalls sell out by 1.30pm. Slurp down a flavourful bowl of prawn noodle soup at Wah Kee Big Prawn Noodles or bite into $2 portions of delicious carrot cake at Heng Leong Carrot Cake.

 

  • Kallang

This neat coffee spot in the Farrer Park neighbourhood serves espresso drinks ($3-$6.50) to complement café fare like chicken cheese burritos ($9), croque monsieurs ($7.50) and hot favourite popcorn-topped panna cottas ($5). But the main draw for the java-jonesin' are for its cold-brewed bottled coffee and chilled Valrhona dark cocoa brews, which the devoted take home to ration sips.

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  • Vietnamese
  • Kallang

For some of the best Vietnamese dishes in town, head over to this quaint joint to satisfy your pho cravings. Bestsellers here include the special beef combo pho ($13.10), Hue spicy beef noodle soup ($12), and Mrs Pho cockles ($14.20). Wash it all down with a Saigon salty lemonade ($5.40) or Viet coffee with ,ilk ($5.40). Mrs Pho also serves up other classics like Bánh Xèo ($16.40) – a Vietnamese-style pancake stuffed with minced pork, shrimp and beansprouts.

  • Kallang

After braving the long queue at lunchtime, go all-out and order the $20 bowl of prawn noodles. Most people choose to have their noodles on the side, tossed in a spicy and sour chilli sauce and topped with lots of fried shallots and lard. But the star of the show is, of course, the glistening soup. 

 

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  • Rochor
Le Café
Le Café

While we swear by Tai Cheong for its egg tarts, Le Café’s silky smooth bean curd tarts with a buttery shortbread-like crust and light almond scent has our lifelong allegiance. They’re so popular you’ll need to reserve them a day in advance (sometimes more), plus they’re only available after 1pm daily. For variety, order the mixed bean curd tarts that come with add-ins like red bean, grass jelly, and longan, or the blueberry cream cheese tart and durian bean curd tart for non-traditional flavours.

  • Rochor
  • price 3 of 4
JINzakaya
JINzakaya

JINzakaya is the Les Amis Group's pocket-friendly concept that’s the playful yang to the zen Sushi Jin just next door. Unlike the dingy-fun izakayas you might be accustomed to in Japanese metropolises, the off-the-city-centre location begets a pretty dead after-work atmosphere – come back on weekends, its website emphasises, for more fun-filled times. The mural of vintage posters and irrationally happy throwback Japanese TV ads try their Yatta! best to help things along in the meantime. 

A row of bar seats facing the buzzing open kitchen is ideal for solo and couple dining, but bigger groups will just have to watch the chefs from an inn-like dining room. With the atmosphere visibly off, the purported 'fun dining' advertised is left to the food, but JINzakaya's reasonably priced snacks, sticks, salads and noodle bowls keep to the script.

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  • Pan-Asian
  • Kallang
  • price 1 of 4
DAIZU Cafe
DAIZU Cafe

One of the latest additions to the cafe scene along Rangoon Road, Daizu Cafe is a double-storey spot that transports you to the minimalist, white-walled cafes of Japan. But it's not just aesthetics here. Daizu Cafe boasts a great Japanese-Western fusion menu with a focus on soy products. Stop by for a Lemon Miso Egg Benedict ($24) if you're around during brunch, or tuck into one of the mouthwatering main dishes such as the Chilli Soft Shell Crab Rice Bowl ($17) or Kitsune Udon with Tempura Prawn ($16).

Drink

  • Kallang

This 23-tap bar on gentrified Tyrwhitt Road gets its name from the Singapore Chinese Druggists Association, which it shares the building with. Opened by distributor duo, Corrine Chia and Lincoln Goh of The Drinking Partners, the interiors, mostly hand-built and put together by the pair, feature marble-topped tables, kopitiam chairs, a draft handle to pull to wash your hands, and mosaic floor tiles to get trippy over. 

Beer geeks will freak out at the advanced selection of imperial stouts, IPAs and sour beers by the likes of Mikkeller, To Øl and Prairie Artisan Ales – which the Partners distribute – but there's also a more approachable range of easy-drinking pale ales and hopped lagers to ease into ($6-$11/250ml, $11-$21/500ml). For something to munch on, a small kitchen at the back dishes out snacks like coffee pork ribs ($8), sambal anchovies ($4) and Sichuan pickles ($2), all designed to pair with the pours. 

  • British
  • Rochor
  • price 2 of 4
Sunset Bar
Sunset Bar

There are unfortunately not many sophisticated cocktail bars in the Farrer Park area, but Sunset Bar at One Farrer Hotel is a pretty decent choice. Overlooking views of Singapore's urban skyline and the sparkling pool of the hotel, Sunset Bar is a cosy and relaxed space where you can kick back and taste its juicy burgers while ordering from its menu of refreshing cocktails and juices.

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  • Thai
  • Rochor
Blue Jasmine
Blue Jasmine

Wine and dine alfresco at the rooftop of Park Hotel Farrer Park. Blue Jasmine offers a lovely alternative for those looking to graduate from the likes of Nakhon Kitchen or Thai Express. The 100-seater restaurant has consciously followed the culinary ethos of balance and harmony. A sense of calm settles in once you enter its rustic interior with plush seating, high ceilings, and patterned tiles lining the floor.

The restaurant’s refreshed menu sends forth a parade of crowd-pleasing classics and lesser-known regional creations that may change the way you think of Thailand. There are the usuals like stir-fried pad Thai prawns ($16), tom yum soup ($20), and green curry (from $24). But take a gander at the tom yum poh tek ($20), which has chunks of fried sea bass swimming in a fiery soup. Cha-om fried egg ($12) is another delightful find. The traditional egg roll is paired with fresh vegetables and prawn paste-based nam prik kapi dipping sauce.

Dine indoors or sit by the pool outdoors to enjoy Singapore’s city skyline and the surrounding lush greenery as you tuck into a Halal Thai feast.

Shop

  • Shopping
  • Kallang

If you happen to stroll along Tyrwhitt Road, you'll come across a striking green storefront against a backdrop of brutalist architecture. This charming plant store goes by the name of Jungalore. While navigating through the store's compact aisles might pose a challenge, we assure you that the effort is worth your while. Discover a variety of reasonably priced plants that you can bring home and add to your collection, including potted plants and larger options suitable for gardening or landscaping projects.

  • Shopping
  • Shopping centres
  • Kallang

In need of some retail therapy? Head on to the city's first eco-mall, boasting nine floors of shopping, entertainment and dining options for the whole family. Sports lovers can run amok at Decathlon's second brick-and-mortar store in Singapore, a one-stop-shop for all your outdoorsy needs; Home's Harmony, Linen Gallery, V.Hive, Window Story and more are there for your home decorating needs; and of course, not forgetting Don Don Donki with a wider selection of Japanese cuisine like its Japanese croquette, Omu-soba, and the sweet potato. 

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  • Shopping
  • Shopping centres
  • Kallang

The department store that never sleeps, Mustafa Centre is open round the clock. It's a Singapore institution with virtually everything you'd need spread across six floors and two buildings. It’s a treasure trove of discount shopping, carrying everything from skincare and electronics to sportswear and luggage. Beautiful sari fabrics can be found in basement 1, and beauty products and appliances at ground level.  

 

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