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Hui Wen Chin’s Guide to Drinking in Singapore

hui wen chinSingapore native Hui Wen Chin is a food writer and the founder of Eastern Granola, a small-batch granola purveyor specializing in cereal infused with Asian flavors. When she’s not making food, she’s out eating it—taking advantage of the island-city’s vibrant dining and drinking scene. Here’s her perfect day on the Little Red Dot.

9:30 a.m.: Tau Sar Pau (steamed red bean bun) and coffee at Forty Hands.
This breakfast is the best of East and West. Wash the fluffy bread and super smooth red bean paste down with their sustainably produced, fair-trade house blend.


11 a.m.: Tau huay (soy milk) at Teck Seng Soya Bean Milk.
Get in line for the soy milk at this hawker stall. Well-balanced and gently fragrant, it’s nothing like the boxed stuff. I get my order to-go and sip it while wandering the neighbourhood. Tiong Bahru is hipster central: home to trendy cafes, indie booksellers and boutiques touting locally designed fashion and accessories.

Noon: Mod Sin recipes and Nim Jiong Old Fashioned at Pidgin Kitchen.
Stop by this Mod Sin (Modern Singaporean cuisine) joint for bak kwa (Chinese pork jerky) mac and cheese, and their take on the Old Fashioned. Nin Jiom is an herbal cough syrup. And strange as it sounds, it blends seamlessly with fernet branca and High West double rye.

1 p.m.: Cold-brew at Chye Seng Huat Hardware.
A tricked-out old hardware store—perpetually packed with young creatives—this café offers java from top local roaster, Papa Palheta. Their cold-brew is a great reprieve from the sweltering heat. Upstairs, there’s a quirky little boutique, Tyrwhitt General Store offering indie publications and artisan products. They do craft workshops too. It’s a cute hangout.

3 p.m.: Pie and tea at Windowsill Pies.
A few doors down, pie specialist Windowsill puts out inventive sweets (think vodka lime coconut pie). To go with, they serve tea by local blender Gryphon. An aromatic cuppa is all I need to unwind. When I want savories, I head to their less well-known food counter Fortnight (it’s at the back) for badass plates like chicken heart and octopus pasta.

4 p.m.: Golden 933 at Hopscotch.
Housed in the same building as the Red Dot Design Museum (definitely also worth a look), this no-frills pop up bar mixes uniquely Singaporean concoctions. They are only open until next October, and when they are gone, I’ll miss standouts, such as the rich Golden 933. It tastes just like the local dish butter prawns, featuring cereal-butter fat-washed rum and curry leaves.

5 p.m.: Chilli crab dip and Singapore Sour at Loof.

You’ve got to love folks who can make fun of themselves. Loof is a fun rooftop bar named for the common local mispronunciation of the word “roof.” It boasts a clear view of the iconic Raffles Hotel and city skyline. Everything here is done with a Singaporean twist. They’ve turned our national dish, chilli crab, into a bar bite and put Chinese sour plums in their drinks. I never leave without checking out their retail stand The Mama Shop, which sells retro-cool toys and stationary. It’s pretty nostalgic stuff.

7 p.m.: Ramen and cocktails at Uma Uma Ramen and Horse’s Mouth.
Wolf down some knockout ramen at Uma Uma and then head downstairs to “secret bar” Horse’s Mouth. (The entrance is behind a black curtain near the front of the noodle house.) Super slick and decorated with stunningly origami displays, the bar offers a killer range of Japanese whiskies.

8 p.m.: Craft beer and satay at The Good Beer Company.
There are over 60 different brews from Asia, Europe and the States on offer at this seemingly nondescript Chinatown hawker stall, and all at great prices. Pair the suds with satay from the neighbouring stall.

10 p.m.: Asian small plates and wine on tap at Ding Dong.
Order the Feed Us menu for a rotating selection of the kitchen’s best plates. It’s all good. But I like to throw in a special request for the stellar sushi rice with pickled cucumbers and salty ebi. To drink, their draft wines—selected from boutique producers—are solid and at affordable picks. After, bar hopping along nearby nightlife strip Club Street is tempting, especially when it’s closed to motor traffic on Friday nights.

11:30 p.m.: Nightcap at Fordham and Grand.
Open until 3 a.m., this Prohibition-inspired bar is a late-night go-to for media folk. The space is dark and cavernous, with no windows, so it’s hard to tell how much time has gone by while you’re inside—a dangerous proposition for us night owls. Their Le Cafe cocktail is an excellent nightcap. Served in a coffee cup, the mix of cognac and port is topped with a layer of egg yolk “crema.” Little squares of Cognac and Grand Marnier jelly served alongside provide an extra boozy hit.

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