Let singer-songwriter Nathan Hartono introduce you to a city filled with music, laughter and friendship.
“There’s so much good food in Chinatown,” Nathan enthuses. “You’ve got to explore between the main streets: all those small little lanes between Keong Saik Street and Temple Street.” If you’d like to partake in one of Nathan’s favourites, head over to Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant for lunch. No prizes for guessing that the unagi don (grilled freshwater eel with Japanese rice) comes highly recommended.
A bustling tourist spot that fuses the old and the new, Chinatown is home to both trendy cocktail bars and some of the city’s most traditional places of worship, such as the Sri Mariamman Temple. Take one of the many tours in the area, and make new friends while learning about the history of this traditional Chinese enclave.
Spend a late afternoon catching a matinee performance at the National Library’s Drama Centre, a stage where Nathan has performed on numerous occasions. “Every time I do a theatre production it always feels very transformational,” the singer observes. “It’s such a different creative process from the music making.”
For those with a sweet tooth, Nathan recommends having a taste of the traditional Chinese desserts on offer at Ah Chew’s Dessert, such as Honeydew Watermelon Sago or Grass Jelly with Longan. It’s where he goes if his rehearsals end before midnight.
In the evening, head over to Haji Lane for the day’s main event. Once a seat of Malay royalty, the Kampong Glam area is now home to Middle Eastern culture, bohemian fashion establishments, and live music bars.
“There are occasional block parties and jam sessions along Haji Lane,” Nathan shares. “I've seen bands play music on the streets there, and strangers from all over the world coming together to sing and dance.”
If you’re looking to wet your whistle while socialising, Blu Jaz Cafe, along Bali Lane, is one of Nathan’s regular haunts, and a perfect place to make new friends through live music. “I used to play at the Blu Jaz Cafe, and I often did gigs there,” he shares.