Mention Havelock Road, and the first thing that comes to mind is the galore of cheap and good local eats. But beyond its yummy repute, the estate, with a history of over four decades, also holds a special place in many Singaporeans’ memories.
Burrowed within the lush greeneries of the old estate of Bukit Ho Swee and flanked by towering blocks of condominiums and new HDB flats (now known as Havelock View), the sleepy estate is also just minutes away from Clark Quay and the Central Business District.
With a mix of old and new, Havelock Road exudes an old-fashioned and peaceful appeal that’s rare to find today. And since hanging out in the suburbs has become quite the in-thing in recent times, we bring you five reasons why you should make Havelock Road your next venue to explore.
Chow down a cheap, hearty feast
One of the best place to get Singapore’s staple, it’s impossible to not find a decent meal here. The unassuming estate was also once the favourite hangout spot for clubbers before and after their night of revelry at the nearby Zouk, located at Jiak Kim Street. The row of shophouses (next to Blk 22) offers a wide selection of Teochew porridge eateries and pocket-friendly Chinese restaurants.
Lim Joo Hin Eating House (Teochew Porridge)
725 Havelock Road, S(169642)
Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh
592 Havelock Road, #01-01
Isetan Office Building, S(169641)
And if indulging in a wide spread of hawker fare is your kind of feasting, then make your way to the corner coffeeshop at Blk 22 as well as the iconic L-shaped food centre located at Blk 22A/B - Old Havelock Road Cooked Food Centre – where all the taxi drivers (they are the real local foodies!) flock to.
Meng Kee Char Kway Teow
Blk 22, Havelock Road
Tan’s Tu Tu Coconut Cake
Blk 22B, Havelock Road
Indulge your palate, hipster-style:
With the ongoing trend of old-HDB-shops-turned-cafes sprouting in various locations all over Singapore, it’s only natural that a modern café find its way into this old, sleepy estate.
Small, humble and cozy, The Tastemaker Store (Blk 22, Havelock Road, #01-705), which opened in June this year, was previously a 49-year-old bookstore called “Shing Lee” that was turned into a Muji-inspired modern café by the owner’s grandchildren.
Serving up local fare alongside coffee and café food, the simple menu with a local twist consists of Glutinous Rice, Yam Cake and the café’s signature Lemon Curd Toast with Clotted Cream (which is essentially lemon curd and clotted cream served atop fluffy English muffins). Pizza, Sandwiches, Caesar Salad, Beverages and a selection of baked goods make up the rest of the café’s simple menu.
With its sleek and minimalist décor, wooden tables, long lamps and potted plants against the whitewashed walls, this relatively new spot makes for a delightful little hidey-hole.
P.S. Don’t miss the light and crispy waffles with a serving of gelato and maple syrup, so simple yet so pleasing on the palate.
Glitzy playground of the rich and famous
Unlike the low-end KTV lounges found in Jalan Besar, the hostesses at the glitzy KTV lounges, many of whom are from various parts of China, are known to be the prettiest and the most expensive.
For more than a decade, the big four upmarket nightclubs at Havelock Road - Las Vegas De’Palace, Tiananmen KTV & Lounge, Golden Million and Club Infinite – have been the playground for big ‘towkays’ and where big money used to roll for many young hostesses.
The glory days, however, seem to be over, as the posh nightclubs’ expiring leases were not given any extensions. Las Vegas De’Palace has already closed its door while the other three are likely to move out, according to reports.
Bouncers guard the entrance once the clubs open for business in the evening. Take a post-dinner stroll down Havelock Road and look out for the big neon signs on the building (next to Furama Riverfront Hotel), you might be lucky to catch some seedy action or a glimpse of the sweet, young things.
Old-fashioned HDB flats
Nothing screams old-school charm more than a block of old-fashioned flats with coloured partition wall and retro diamond-patterned nooks. Built in the ‘60s to house residents who were made homeless by the infamous Bukit Ho Swee (estate) fire, Blk 22 clearly stands out from its neighbouring blocks of new built-to-order HDB flats. The disparity exudes a lovely, laidback vibe as we stop to admire the beautiful, yellow and orange façade. A piece of history that doubles up as an awesome photo backdrop, what’s not to love?
Say a little prayer
With its signature chilli-red façade, it’s hard to miss the iconic “Giok Hong Tian” – a traditional Chinese temple to the Jade Emperor – the Supreme Deity in the Taoist scheme of thing. One of the oldest Chinese temples in Singapore that’s apparently been around for over a century, word has it that couples longing to conceive could have their wish fulfilled after praying in the temple.