Unsee that mental image of the old man stroking his beard, beckoning you into his teahouse with an overgrown fingernail. Antea Social is the modern answer to the format, with its Scandi-cool tones of powder pink and off-white, calming light orbs, and a tea menu that imparts its knowledge in English. This tea company's specialty is its Oolong blends in flavours of Kyoho grapes and golden pomelo so pull up a seat and sip tea with a slices of black sesame or orh nee cake on offer too. And before you leave, order one of the many cold kombucha bottles to take the happy experience home – they're brewed here using Antea Social's carefully sourced leaves.
There are cafes that pile on the themed decor to transport you to another headspace, and then there are spots like Apartment Coffee. This brightly lit space is a temple to the roasted bean, where white tones, a long bar counter and simple and well-made wood furnishings play a supporting role against the drinks on offer. The coffee here is served as pour overs or espressos, using beans sourced and roasted by Apartment's owner, Mr Yeo Qing He, who's quite venerated among the local barista community. That said, you're in for an educational, rather than intimidating experience, as the menu helpfully provides keywords to guide you to picking one of the seasonal beans on offer.
Ban Heng Long Trading
If you are one who likes to DIY and are among the men and women who prefer to make their own furniture, have a go at being carpenter at Ban Heng Long. While you won't find the commonly heard YouTube tutorial buzzwords such as elms or oak woods, you’ll still be able to find the plywoods and teak that can be cut to order if you bring the dimensions and specifications for the helpful staff here. When the wooden panel at the bottom of your favourite IKEA dresser sags from all the clothing you failed to Marie Kondo, this spot might just spark joy as it can get you a replacement piece for a reasonable price here.
Beach Road Scissors Cut Curry Rice
A late-night haunt for the sleepless and steel-tummied is Beach Road Scissors Cut Curry Rice. Open until 3.30am daily, the food here is reminiscent of economy rice stalls—the pork cutlet, braised pork, chap chye and taupok are the crowd favourites here. The difference comes after the ordering: the zippy staff here will cut everything into bite-size for you once they are piled onto your plate, and everything gets a generous pour-over of rich Hainanese curry. Messy? Yes, but it's oh so satisfying.
Berseh Food Centre
With the wealth of dining options in the neighbourhood, we don’t blame you if you overlook this regular ol' hawker centre across the big street from Rowell Road. But this is where you can get a taste of some old-school dishes that are hard to come by these days. At Lao Liang (#02-37), for example, you can dine on shark meat and shark jelly – a Teochew delicacy akin to French-style cold terrines, made with the predator's robust meat suspended in gelatine. Fu Zhou Poh Hwa Osyter Cake (#02-34) offers fried peanut and ikan bilis-studded fritters stuffed with oysters, prawns, minced pork and chives, and close by at Fu He Turtle Soup (#02-40), owner Mr Lee Hock Hoe serves up bowls of this delicacy that he has perfected through 30 years in the business.
Customade Costume & Merchandise
Whether you are looking to up the ante when attending a long-awaited gathering friends (yay Phase Three!) to binge watch Money Heist together, or surprising your relatives at Chinese New Year by dressing up as the God of Fortune, Customade Costume & Merchandise has you covered. This family-run company is on the pulse when it comes to designing and tailoring fancy dresses and has a staggering range spanning characters from trending movie and TV shows characters to retro mascots (here’s looking at you, Mamee Monster). It has clothed countless Halloween partygoers, as well as company dinner and dance, Chingay and National Day Parade performers in its 22 years in the business. At its showroom in Kelantan Lane, 20,000 costumes are stacked deep on hangers for you to choose from, though if diving in feels a little too dizzying, there's always a website you can browse and book on. Rentals start from $48 for two days, and the rate even includes minor alterations so you don't arrive at your party looking like a saggy Luke Skywalker.
Craft beer. Cool Interiors. Quirky name that sticks. Druggists has everything it takes to be a trendy lifestyle hotspot, and it doesn't disappoint. Sharing a shophouse with the Singapore Chinese Druggists Association (an association of Chinese Medicine practitioners), this mosaic-tiled drinking room is where adventurous drinkers come seeking the more intrepid beer styles that Singapore has to offer. With the 23 craft beers on tap 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'.
Dynasty Fried Porridge
This zichar stall's signature dish is in its intriguing name: how does one fry a usually watery dish? For this, we have Malaysian chefs and their ingenuity of making the most of leftovers to thank. Here, chef-owner Mr John Ng taps on his Ipoh roots and flexes his wok-cooking muscles to fire rice and stock into a thick slurry. This is then served in a claypot with liberal sprinklings of pork lard, fried shallots and cuttlefish, so that each mouthful punches deep with smoky wok hei flavour. To complement your meal, the menu also features KL Hokkien mee and claypot loh shu fun (aka mee tai mak) to transport you to memories of meals gone by over at our northern neighbours.
E-TracX DJ Skool & Studios
You can learn pretty much everything on Youtube these days, but if spinning music is on your list of resolutions, don't skimp on classes, especially when they're held at E-TracX. Co-owner DJ Edwin has been running the school since 2003, alongside his career playing at some of the city's top clubs. On their roster of instructors here are some of the city's top DJ veterans the likes of Perk Pietrek, Shin and KoFlow—one of the world's top turntablists who has performed with the likes of Kanye West and Missy Elliot. Once you've got your skills up to scratch(get it?), you can also rent their studio for some practice time.
There are hole-in-the-wall establishments, and then there is Gelato Labo. A miniscule room on Cavan Road, it has 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. Clearly these intrepid flavours pairings have captured an audience too, as they've recently expanded into a fully kitted out cafe out west in Clementi.