A Visit to Little Chinatown
When one hears Chinatown, the first impression that comes to mind is likely the bustling markets and some good hawker food. If you were a student in our local schools once, you would likely remember your visit to this ethnic precinct during your primary and secondary school years as well.
If it’s been a while since you last visited the iconic Chinatown, why not try to explore this area again during your free time? Aside from visiting the usual hotspots (e.g. via Singapore Footprints), below we share with you some other unique or less known places that you can visit in your expedition.
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If there’s a phrase that could describe Operation Dagger aptly, it would be none other than ‘a hidden gem’. This award-winning bar in Chinatown is indeed a unique contrast amidst the bustling Chinatown area. Tucked away at the back alley of the junction between Club Street and Ann Siang Hill, you will find yourself walking down a mysterious dark staircase as soon as you open its unassuming door.
This staircase leads to a basement bar whose aromatic smell of herbs and beautiful interior decoration is sure to get you hyped up. The food here is something to look forward to as well considering that Operation Dagger constantly innovates to give its patrons the best their plate has to offer. Some of the interesting food you can look out for is The Egg (made of salted egg yolk liquer) and the omakase, which comprises of six different cocktails.
Another interesting fact – the name “Operation Dagger” was derived from the late 1950s movement in Singapore that sought to eliminate the underground secret society in Chinatown. Coupled with history, a hipster-exclusive vibe and some very good curated food, this underground bar is definitely worth exploring.
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The Tintin Shop
From unwinding at a bar, we now call out to Tintin Fans out there. Located at 28 Pagoda Street, this Tintin Shop is definitely a must visit for fans of the comic adventure. Many foreigners have also headed to this cosy shop, with some placing the shop as a must-visit if they are visiting the island.
For those who may not be familiar with this comic, The Adventures of Tintin is one of the most well-known European comics of the 20th century. In fact, during the 1980s, Tintin was the only English comic allowed in the national library collection of Singapore, possibly as it was deemed most informative and suitable for young and adult readers alike.
For ardent fans of the comic, the Tintin Shop is a rare gem as it is completely devoted to selling Tintin merchandise like comics, posters and collectibles. Some specific items you can look out for include the limited edition resin and metal figurines as well as their Tintin t-shirts. Whether you are a Tintin fan or not, this cosy store is definitely worth a visit if you are exploring the Chinatown vicinity.
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Pek Sin Choon
And again, back to heritage and the evergreen, we shall now introduce the oldest tea merchant in Singapore located right in the heart of bustling Chinatown at 36 Mosque Street. If you are in for the legacy and its strong heritage, Pek Sin Choon is worth a try. Pek Sin Choon was founded in 1925 and its current boss, Mr Kenry Peh, is the fourth-generation owner of the family business. Some interesting fact – it was Mr Kenry Peh’s grandfather who pioneered the art of tea appreciation and social bonding vis-à-vis eating bak kut teh.
Not surprisingly, Pek Sin Choon is now the largest tea distributor for Bak Kut Teh hawkers in Singapore. The interesting element about Pek Sin Choon is that the merchant is constantly evolving and experimenting – churning out new flavours and combinations to fit current trend and local context. At the same time, old longstanding tea flavours continue to exist if you are in need of a classic good Chinese tea.
Rich in heritage and providing excellent tea flavours, Pek Sin Choon is too good to be missed. Head over to Pek Sin Choon where you can expect to be better informed about Chinese tea while enjoying a cup of cooling tea amidst the hot weather.
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Ten Dollar Club Karaoke
We’ve been discussing a fair bit about the nostalgic and the heritage but Chinatown is not all without the fun. If you’d like to sing your hearts out after all the walk and exploration, why not visit the Ten Dollar Club Karaoke? As the name suggests, you can enjoy some good ole karaoke session all at the affordable price of ten dollars apiece for three-hours straight. Aside from the too-good-to-believe price, this KTV lounge also stands apart from other lounges with its homely interior decoration which brings out a cosy vibe if you are there with your family or friends.
Another added perk would be the free-flow hot or soft drinks that is an added assurance to your pocket. To top if off, there’s also a pool table available at the affordable cost of $2 per game – another activity you can try to unwind and rest after all the singing. Located at 35A Smith Street in Chinatown, don’t forget to pop by this area if you are out for some jolly singing fun.
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Mural @ Chinatown
And now, if you’d like some peace and quiet, here is a shout-out to art lovers. If you are keen to walk and explore the Chinatown area, you can also look forward uncovering mural artworks around the vicinity. For example, you can expect to visit some murals at Banda Street, the Thian Hock Keng Temple and Amoy Street. The mural at Banda Street were created in 2015 by 600 volunteers as part of the Colouring Banda Street, a charity project by accounting firm, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers in collaboration with the Kreta Ayer residents. Meanwhile, the 40-metre long mural at the 177-year-old Thian Hock Keng temple was commissioned by Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan and painted by 3D-artist Yip Yew Chong.
This mural illustrates the trials and tribulations of early Hokkien immigrants in Singapore. The murals at Amoy Street Food Centre is interesting as well as they were all painted by the young and talented students of Anglo-Chinese school. The murals featured respected icons like Samsui women as well as legendary-mythical dragons. It is imperative to note that the above list is not exhaustive. As you walk through Chinatown, there are indeed more murals for you to uncover – all depicting the essence of Chinatown and its rich heritage. If you’d like some guide during your visit, why not check out “Where to find street art in Singapore – Chinatown”? The latter can provide you a more comprehensive guide as you seek out these fantastic art murals.
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