Discovering Tiong Bahru – Singapore

I’ve been to Singapore a number of times now and generally  stay in the same place each time and invariably end up at Newton Circus to eat or a couple other places that I know.

A couple of weeks ago I read an article about the Tiong Bahru Market and thought I’d give it a try.

Art deco apartments on Tiong Bahru Road

Art deco apartments on Tiong Bahru Road

So I hop on the MRT to discover a new area of Singapore that I’d never been to before.

As I emerge from the MRT station I looked up at the high rise apartment blocks and think this looks like normal Singapore but after a short walk I start to see the 1920/30’s  heritage of the district in some of the the architecture that has not been developed as yet.

Tiong Bahru was built by the government housing authority in the 1930’s and was used to house rich men’s mistresses. Mmmm.

The area has an art-deco feel and not surprisingly is now the centre of the Singapore hipster movement although there wasn’t a beard to be seen.

After a short walk I come across my intended destination Tiong Bahru Market.

First I decide to pop into the Tiong Bahru Club diagonally opposite the market for a drink and wi-fi.


Tiong Bahru Club

Tiong Bahru Club

he club had an old world feeling to the place and they were playing 30’s music when I walked in  ceiling fans circulating the air to provide a nice oasis from the humidity.

At lunchtime I decide to move across the road to the Tiong Bahru Market.

As I walk in I see dozens of hawkers stalls selling different types of Chinese/Singaporean/Malaysian Foods.

I wouldn’t come to this market expecting to have an Indian meal the area seems predominately Chinese.

Chwee Kueh

Chwee Kueh

Most of what I can see I can get at home Kway Teoh, Chicken Rice etc but I see something I hadn’t seen before Rice Cakes with a preserved radish and chilli sauce.

I sit at a table and strike up a conversation with a local girl Meiling. She tells me that the dish is called Chwee Kueh and is one of her favorites and a specialty of the market.

Funnily the next day on the plane I’m watching Anthony Bourdain eating exactly the same meal from the same stall on his show.

So I have the cakes and as you’ll see from the photo they don’t look appealing on the brown paper.

The cakes were quite gelatinous and the texture is not something that a lot of westerners will like but the sauce had flavour and was completely different to anything I’d had before.


Tiong Bahru Market

Tiong Bahru Market

guess when you’re predominately eating the one grain you try and find different ways to prepare it and the cakes make a great alternative to steamed rice.


I ended up spending a couple hours talking with Meiling and Audry thanks for helping me and also it was great to speak to you both. Sorry, I might have spoilt your lunch with my oddball questions.

And I will endeavor to go to Taiwan soon.

It was great to hear about how you view Singapore and gave me a greater perspective on the country and the people.

Everywhere I’ve been in Singapore over these couple days everyone has been really friendly to me and I thank you for that.

If you liked this article you would probably like my article Eating Cheap in Singapore

Meiling and Audry at Tiong Bahru Market

Meiling and Audry at Tiong Bahru Market

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