Affectionately known as ‘Ang Sar Lee’ (thanks to the red roof tiles and red zinc rooftops on private homes and shophouses back in the 50s and 60s) or simply ‘Gardens’ to the area’s long-time residents, Serangoon Gardens is known for having one of the best hawker centres in Singapore. While we couldn’t agree more, it’s a lot more than that.
We love the real village atmosphere that’s quite difficult to find in Singapore these days, and the area has definitely evolved with more diverse offerings in terms of food and other aspects. So here’s the lowdown on what we think is cool in this rabbit warren of a neighbourhood:
Everybody knows Chomp Chomp Food Centre and certainly everyone has their favourites by now. For the record, we always go back to Ah Hock Fried Hokkien Noodles (Stall 27), Ang Sa Lee Fried Oyster (Stall 33), and Chong Pang Huat (Stall 26) for chicken wings. For BBQ stingray, Hai Wei Yuan Seafood BBQ (Stall 1) gets our vote.
Ah Hock Fried Hokkien Noodles
Usually overshadowed by its neighbour’s reputation, Serangoon Gardens Market & Food Centre has its fair share of local delicacies too, such as Ah Seng Braised Duck Rice (Stall 44), Soon Huat Pig’s Organ Soup (Stall 42), and Garden Street Kway Chap (Stall 21). For old-school Singaporean baked goods, Serangoon Gardens Bakery & Confectionery (Stall 46) has really good ham & cheese bread.
While the chicken rice at Pow Sing Restaurant is not the best we’ve tried, the chili is decent and it’ll suffice if you’re in the mood for it. They also do Peranakan dishes.
The folks at Arbite are still going strong after 4 years with their brand of Western-Singapore fusion food. Expect small plates for sharing like Chilli Crab Vol-au-vent and mains like Beef Rendang Pasta. Another long-time (indeed, 3 years in quite long for any restaurant in Singapore these days) restaurant in the area is Relish by Wild Rocket by Chef Willin Low, which serves up solid burgers in a family friendly setting in Serangoon Gardens’ community mall, myVillage. Did we mention that the entire mall is outfitted with wifi? So you don’t have to wrack your brains for that Wireless@SG password or risk a huge phone bill by tapping on your phone’s network.
The mall is also home to a slew of other dining concepts like the second, albeit smaller, outlet of a well-loved dessert café, Little Wimbly Lu. Those looking for reasonably priced and somewhat Singaporean-styled Western food won’t be disappointed by iSteaks Diner. Not only do they have a wide variety of cuts (including baby back ribs and lamb T-bone), those who don’t fancy grills can opt for pastas and burgers. One relatively new opening in myVillage is Yogiyo Fried Chicken, which we’ve tried in the Hongdae district in Seoul. Opened by a Korean lady who trained at the flagship store in Seoul and brought the concept to Singapore, we’ll definitely be heading down soon to try it.
Little Wimbly Lu
Speaking of Korean food, another must-try for the cuisine’s fans is SYNC Korean Tapas Bar. Opened by the same people behind SYNC Korean Fusion Bistro in Westgate, the bar offers affordable tapas made for communal dining. Try the Misugaru (a type of Korean grain) Lava Cake for dessert. If you’re looking for more traditional Korean fare, Hanwoori Korean Restaurant serves up your favourite home cooked dishes like Spicy Tofu Stew and Bibimbap. Plus, the banchan (side dishes) are refillable at no additional cost with every order of main course!
After their success along Circular Road, Tom Yum Kungfu brings its famous mookata (Thai-style barbeque-steamboat) to Serangoon Gardens. Quirkily decorated with Thai pop music playing in the background, this place makes for a unique dining experience.
With the French International School nearby, we’re not surprised that the folks behind La Petit Boutique chose to open up in the ‘Goon. You won’t be able to actually dine here, but their phenomenal selection of French cheeses (more than 50 varieties from heavy Mimolettes to rare Corsican sheep milk cheese), wines, cold cuts, and other gourmet items.
Named after chef-owner Cesare Cantarella’s hometown along the Amalfi Coast, Ravello offers Mediterranean-style Neapolitan cuisine with signatures like black squid ink spaghetti with seafood in tomato sauce. For more Mediterranean inspired cuisine, large and airy PLONK (Aussie slang for inexpensive wine) is a tapas and pizza bar with items like grilled haloumi and chicken parmigiana on the menu.
Chillax Massage Cafe
Chillax Massage Café is one of those amazing dual-concept places that you’ll kick yourself for not discovering earlier. The café downstairs serves hearty comfort fare like Portobello Fries and Wagyu Beef Rosti while the massage parlour upstairs is decked out with massage beds and foot reflexology chairs.
Last but not least, boutique patisserie A Han Bakes bakes pastries and confections for all occasions. This is one for the cupcake fans – we love the Flora Lychee flavour.
On the Outskirts
There are a couple of other dining mini enclaves in Serangoon Gardens away from the main circus.
Along quiet, treelined (and terribly congested) Jalan Riang, you’ll find the original, quaint Wimbly Lu still dishing out its popular waffles and Root Beer Cake. For authentic contemporary Thai, Siam Society is your best bet in the neighbourhood. They have one of the best Tom Yum Seafood soups in Singapore.
The Cajun Kings
Have a weakness for seafood boils and lobster rolls? Jalan Riang is also home to one of the pioneers of the trend, The Cajun Kings. Though we feel that it’s not exactly authentic Creole cuisine, the seafood boils are, at least, fresh and tasty. We feel safe tagging any place in Singapore that features Vegemite as prominently as Rokeby Bistro as Australian. They also serve Aussie coffee so you can be guaranteed a good cuppa here.
If you’re in the mood for Italian, you can’t do much better than the rustic and unpretentious La Pizzaiola for the cuisine’s icons – pastas and pizzas. We also like that the menu is quite vegetarian-friendly.
The Coffee Daily
Another foodie street is Brighton Crescent, which plays host to cafes like The Coffee Daily and Sun Ray Café. Both have free wifi (hooray!) and the latter is pet-friendly. And then there’s Jonathan’s, Singapore’s first purely gluten-free kitchen. While the menu is quite small, there are dairy-free, egg-free, and even nut-free options so this is one to remember if you have friends with such dietary restrictions.
Top Image: Walter Lim