The Lion City may be a tiny red dot, but plenty of hidden gems remain uncovered in the densely-populated city-state. As a local, chances are that you’ve done and seen it all when it comes to major tourist attractions like Gardens by the Bay or Botanical Gardens, but explore the heartlands and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you can find.
Meet JalanJalan.me, a new community project led by the folks behind the #savefnbsg movement. Supported by Enterprise Singapore and Singapore Tourism Board, the namesake platform launched as an interactive site for users to check out the best things to do, eat, shop, and see in neighbourhoods like Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Chong Pang, Clementi, and Jalan Besar. Perhaps it’s no surprise that these five districts are among Singapore’s most established, being home to a mind boggling number of local brands, mom-and-pop shops, and hawker stalls.
Advised by residents who dwell in these very estates, the site pinpoints places of interest on a miniature map of Singapore. Simply hover your clicker over the area and you’ll see hot spots marked by logos for dining, shopping, and more. As a resident of Ang Mo Kio, I was delighted to find places I’ve never even stepped foot into.
Among the listed items, you’ll find a hip nasi padang joint in Yishun that’s frequented by ministers, a microbrewery underneath a HDB block in Clementi, a heritage dragon playground hidden within Ang Mo Kio; as well as a kueh store that has been operating in Bedok for more than three decades.
Here are some well-hidden spots to check out over the Lunar New Year weekend and beyond:
Buy bak kwa at Multi Food Supply
Take a break from the big names in bak kwa and check out this family-run stall nestled within Berseh Food Centre. Founded by Kim Tan, who has been helping out with her family’s bak kwa business since the age of six, the stall still uses the original recipe from her parents till this day. Its bak kwa, meaty and flavourful, is a must-try, alongside dishes like salt-baked chicken and mala xiang guo. Word has it that her homemade mala sauce is blended from more than 30 herbs and comes in five levels of spiciness.
Make your own cup at Mud Rock Ceramics
If you’ve always wanted to make your own ceramics, why not sign up for a class here? A favourite among cup-making hobbyists and restauranteurs who work with owner-artists Ms Ng Seok Har and Ms Michelle Lim, the studio has also been commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to craft gifts for the Vatican and even Queen Elizabeth II. Suitable for all ages, the classes are categorised for novices, the experienced, and kids.
Enjoy tea break at Lau Chong Kee Bedok Confectionery
Old-school Chinese confectionery shops like these are far and few these days, especially when they still sell retro treats like steamed cakes and custard rolls. As the baked goods sell out quickly, visitors are advised to head there early for a taste of their traditional Chinese pastries. While you’re at it, stick around and check out the open concept kitchen where you can see the staff preparing the day’s selection of delicious baked goods.
In the months to come, expect to see more guides on the site, along with walking tours that one can sign up and participate in. Got a recommendation for your neighbourhood? Keep your eyes peeled for an open call where you can submit your favourite small local businesses to be included.
More information here.