Wander off the beaten path and discover four of Singapore’s lesser-known neighbourhoods and their hidden gems.
Experience a slice of Singapore’s colonial past when you dine at Seletar Aerospace Park (SAP). In 1923, the British developed this area to house a Royal Air Force (RAF) station that served Singapore from 1928 to 1971. To house RAF personnel and their families, numerous black and white bungalows were built with the help of Samsui women (female Chinese immigrants who took on construction jobs) who were also known to the British as “Concrete Lizzies”.
Today, Seletar Airport operates as a general aviation airport for chartered flights and training purposes. Of the former colonial houses, 32 have been slated for conservation and redevelopment as part of The Oval at Seletar Aerospace Park. The new lifestyle enclave plays host to bazaars and carnivals, with the conserved bungalows now housing restaurants, spas, and shops. The transformation begins with four food and beverage tenants that are shaking up the Singaporean food scene in their own way: from a European chef highlighting local and regional produce in his dishes, to a traditional Teochew (Chinese dialect group) restaurant with over 30 years of heritage.
The Summerhouse is one of those places you’ll have no problem spending the entire day at. The space is home to Poppy Flora Studio; Nomad the Gallant, an on-site coffee roasting facility; Wildseed, a casual café and bar; and The Summerhouse Dining Room, the main restaurant perched on the second floor of the conserved colonial bungalow.
The dishes at The Summerhouse follow a ‘farms’-to-table approach: produce is sourced from Singaporean and Malaysian farms, and garnishes are plucked from the on-site garden. For a taste of everything The Summerhouse has to offer, opt for one of Ridder’s collective farming menus, which offers six-course (SGD 90) and ten-course dinner options (SGD 128).
If it’s brunch you are looking for, hit Wildseed for hearty gourmet sandwiches and cakes with a local twist. The blue pea flower coconut muffin (SGD 6.50), a naturally dyed muffin with a desiccated coconut centre, is another must-have for its nod to local flavours.
The Summerhouse. 3 Park Lane, Singapore 798387. +65 6262 1063.
The Summerhouse Dining Room: Wed-Sat 6pm-10pm; Sun 11am-5pm.
Wildseed Café: Tue-Sun 10am-7pm.
Laid-back café experience
Its sister outlet in Balestier, Wheeler’s Yard, is popular among local Instagrammers for its décor, but this branch is not to be outdone. Snap a picture next to the cute silver camper van or, in the evening, under the fairy lights.
With firewood lining the exterior of the two-storey colonial bungalow, Wheeler’s Estate feels like a luxe campsite in the middle of the great outdoors. On the first floor is The Lawn, a café where diners can grab mats and a basket of snacks for a picnic out on the field, and the Grill House, a separate spot for charcoal-grilled meats and burgers.
Head upstairs to The Verandah and be treated to Australian fare in a gorgeous minimalist setting. A nine-metre-long bar dominates one end of the room, with bottles of whisky glowing behind the counter. Try the Cheeky Swine (SGD 25), a dish of bourbon- and cider-braised pork cheeks drizzled with saffron cream. Not feeling adventurous? Stick to the fish and chips (SGD 28), served with a side of greens.
Wheeler’s Estate. 2 Park Lane, Singapore 798386. +65 6262 0001.
Tue-Fri 11am-11pm; Sat-Sun 9am-11pm.
YOUNGS Bar and Restaurant
Modern European cuisine
Let the verdant surroundings of Seletar paint a scenic backdrop to your meal at YOUNGS Bar and Restaurant. Despite being one of the smaller bungalows in The Oval, YOUNGS can accommodate up to 56 diners indoors and 126 diners at its alfresco area. The interiors reflect old-world European charm, with plush sofas and wood accents that create a cosy dining space—perfect for a romantic night away from the city.
YOUNGS offers brunch, lunch sets (SGD 20/two courses), afternoon tea and dinner to satisfy all cravings. The menu is inspired by the owner’s trips to the colourful cities of Europe, featuring French-style mussel pots for which you can choose between three bases: white wine, tomato or blue cheese, all affordably priced between SGD 20-24 for 400 grams and SGD 32-36 for 800 grams. Other signatures include a flank steak served on a bed of mashed potatoes, and a snapper and clam dish reminiscent of something you would find in a Spanish coastal town.
YOUNGS Bar and Restaurant. 3 Hyde Park Gate, Singapore 799531. +65 6734 2850.
Mon-Thu 11am-1am; Fri 11am-2am; Sat 8am-2am; Sun 8am-1am.
Di Wei Teo Chew Restaurant
For the uninitiated, Teochew food originates from the Chaoshan region of China, east of the Guangdong province. The region’s long water frontage means a typical meal tends to include dishes like cold crab (from SGD 20-32) and braised abalone and sea cucumber (SGD 60-90). Di Wei Teo Chew Restaurant serves these classics and more, relying on the expertise of chef Khoo Tai Guan, who ran the restaurant’s first outlet in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. It has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a small food court kiosk; the outlet at The Oval houses 13 tables, making it ideal for large inter-generational gatherings over authentic Teochew delicacies.
Head chef Khoo Tai Guan, who has over 30 years of experience cooking Teochew food, is responsible for the menu. Try some of his unique offerings like the chye poh kway teow (SGD 5), a fried noodle dish with bits of crunchy preserved radish that has been kissed with the breath of the wok. Traditional Teochew dishes like braised duck (SGD 10-18) and seafood yam rings (SGD 18) are also in no short supply, so brace yourself for a gastronomic treat.
Di Wei Teo Chew Restaurant. 1 The Oval, Singapore 797859. +65 6262 5946.
Daily 11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30-10pm.
More spots to eat and drink your fill
Near The Oval, you’ll find even more cafés and watering holes. With bicycles, art and other cycling paraphernalia decorating its walls, Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafè serves a mix of Western, Japanese and local food like sirloin steak (SGD 14) and katsu don (SGD 6), a Japanese dish of deep fried pork cutlet on rice. The café is also a great vantage point for watching planes take off from Seletar Airport in the distance.
Alternatively, head to Georges’ Hideout @ Seletar, a casual pub that serves unpretentious nosh and nibbles alongside affordable pints of beer. With new food and beverage concepts shaking up the scene, you can bet that the long drive here won’t go to waste.
Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafè. 80 Seletar Aerospace View, MAJ Aviation Building #01-01, Singapore 797563. +65 6659 6124.
Tue-Thu & Sun 10am-10pm; Fri-Sun 10am-11pm.
Georges’ Hideout @ Seletar. JTC Aviation 2, 690 West Camp Road. +65 6694 1159.