Your Jalan Besar walking guide
Perhaps you've just checked into Wanderlust, The Unlimited Collection by Oakwood, or perhaps you just feel like exploring somewhere on foot. Steeped in history, colourful in architectural design, and bursting with an ecclectic mix of shopping and dining options, Jalan Besar is perfect for a day of discoveries.
Begin your day at Sungei Rd Green Hub (28 Kelantan Road, #01-125/135, Singapore 200028 | 11am-8pm Mon-Sat, 10am-8pm Sun) — a fitting start to your discovery of Jalan Besar, for the Thieves' Market was one of the defining landmarks of the district before the area was cleared for a new MRT station in 2017. You'll still find plenty of vintage curios and old electronics crammed into Sungei Road Green Hub, and by some of the same vendors who used to work the streets no less. Nearby this shop of curiosities is another gem for vintage hunters: Loop Garms. (635 Veerasamy Road, #01-148, Singapore 200635 | 12pm-7.30pm daily) Here, you will find a decidedly cool — rather than kitschy — range of vintage garments, or ‘garms. There is a strong focus on t-shirts from the 80s and 90s, with some shoes, snapbacks and bags making their appearance on its steel-pipe and wire boards. Before hopping on the train for a visit though, give their Instagram account a quick glance to see what's possibly on offer. You'll have to act quick if you see something you like – the store's owners Fenjia Sai and Isaac Ang do occasionally manage to score some holy grail finds that you might just want to queue up before opening time for.
After all that shopping, make your way to Berseh Food Centre (166 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208877), a veritable playground for those hungry for local fare. Look out for vedors offering exclusive Jalanjalan.me deals, such as Joy Kitchen and Multi Food Supply, famed for their signature salt-baked Chicken and festive offering of bak kwa. Wash all that good stuff down with a cleansing and calming brew from Antea Social (9 Tyrwhitt Road Singapore 207528 | 11.30am-7pm Sun-Thu, 11.30am-10pm Fri-Sat), which offers specialty Oolong blends. Rejuvenated, continue your walk to Petain Road: while the main Jalan Besar drag is a densely packed district of some 230 shophouses, but few of its side streets are as beautiful as this, with 18 shophouses built in the 1930s by British architect EV Miller for businessman Mohamed Bin Haji Omar. The Chinese Baroque style of adornment means that the external walls here feature a more-is-more aesthetic of patterned mosaic tiles juxtaposed against tiles splashed with motifs of flowers and birds. Round up your tour with a visit to W Rice Wine (11 Cavan Road, #01-02, Singapopre 209848 | 11am-5.30pm Tue-Fri, 9.30am-4.30pm Sat), a local family business is steeped in history. The Ng family patriach started brewing rice wine from home since he came to Singapore from China in 1930s, and in 2019, the family decided to turn it into a commercial business to share their family rice wine with more. Since then, W Rice Wine has been used by enthusiastic home cooks and professional chefs alike. While you are there, be sure to scan the Jalanjalan.me QR code at their shop to enjoy an exclusive discount too!
On the same street is Gelatolabo (11 Cavan Road, Singapore 209848, 1pm-10pm Mon, Tues, Thu, 1pm-10.30pm Fri-Sun): a miniscule room with just enough space for you to select your ice-cream and perch on one of the rarely available outdoor seats, or continue on your merry way. While small on real estate, they are big on imagination. The cones, for example, are studded with tiny lavender blooms and made fresh on site. In the cold box, you'll find a culinary bent in flavours such as the smoked sakura with artichoke and pear compote, as well as novel pairings the likes of Bronte pistachio and Himalayan pink salt, or naval orange with white chrysanthemum flower.
Round up your walking tour of Jalan Besar with a well-deserved drink at Druggists (119 Tyrwhitt Road Singapore 207547 | 3.30pm – 10.30pm daily). Sharing a shophouse with the Singapore Chinese Druggists Association (an association of Chinese Medicine practitioners), it's easy to see where this craft beer bar got its name. This mosaic-tiled drinking room enables the adventurous drinker hankering after the more intrepid beer styles that Singapore has to offer. With 16-or-so beers up on the board here though, it's easy enough to dodge the barrel-aged milk stout or super sour lambic in favour of a tamer pale ale or lager, poured from its impressive row of beer taps by the friendly 'beertenders'. If you are there on a Monday: scan our Jalanjalan.me QR code to enjoy a thirst-quenching flight of three 180ml glasses of craft beers, at just $18!
So you've quenched your thirst — how about some chow? There are dining options abound on Jalan Besar, from institutions such as Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant (183/185/187/189/191/193 Jalan Besar Singapore 208882, 11am – 2.30pm; 6pm – 2am daily) to newcomers such as Kampong Amin Dim Sum (219 Jalan Besar Singapore 208900 | 5pm-10.30pm Tue-Thu, 11:30am-2.30pm; 5pm-10.30pm Fri-Sun). But if you are looking for a bit of pampering, reserve a table at Kotuwa (2 Dickson Rd, First floor within Wanderlust Hotel, Singapore 209494 | 6-10pm Wed-Fri, 11am-4pm; 6-10pm Sat-Sun) — a Sri Lankan-inspired restaurant and bar by Michelin-starred chef Rishi Naleendra. Chef Naleendra — who also steers Michelin-starred Cheek Bistro and Cloudstreet —whips up a colourful menu spanning tantalising premium dishes such as a Sri Lankan crab curry and an unctuous fried beef cheek in sweet tamarind, chilli and lime, to flavourful vegetarian-friendly creations such as a polos kottu — a chopped flatbread served with baby jackfruit and vegetables, or a dish of Beetroot stir-fried in cumin, green chilli and mustard.
Still hungry for more? There's lots more excitement to discover in Jalan Besar: and we've prepared for you a whole list of places to eat at, shop at, and fun activities to do. So, go out and jalan jalan!