Visit Singapore’s Chinatown in the daytime, and you’ll be enchanted by its beautiful temples, rich heritage and cultural landmarks. Drop by in the evening though, and you’ll see it transformed into a buzzing nightlife district, home to award-winning bars, speakeasies and hot supper spots.
Whether you’re looking to chat with a bartender over a tipple or take your taste buds on an adventure, this guide will help you navigate this enchanting district. End off your exploration by discovering Chinatown’s many food options after dark.
Maxwell Food Centre
Singapore’s reputation as a food paradise is on full display at the ever-popular Maxwell Food Centre. With over 100 stalls to pick from, this is one of the best spots on the island to broaden your horizons, and discover the sheer variety of Singaporean hawker food.
Venture beyond the Michelin Bib-Gourmand certified Tian Tian Chicken Rice and explore the varied dishes available here. Popular options include Tong Xin Ju Special Shanghai Tim Sum’s guo tie (fried dumplings), Fu Shun Shao La Mian Jia’s medley of roasted meat dishes, and the handmade ngoh hiang (meat rolled in beancurd skin) at China Street Fritters.
Tian Tian Chicken Rice at Maxwell Food Centre. 1 Kadayanallur Street #01-10/11, Singapore 069184. +65 9691 4852.
Tong Xin Ju Special Shanghai Tim Sum at Maxwell Food Centre. 1 Kadayanallur Street #01-92, Singapore 069184. +65 9662 3501.
Tue, Thu-Sun 11am-8pm.
Fu Shun Shao La Mian Jia at Maxwell Food Centre. 1 Kadayanallur Street #01-71, Singapore 069184.
China Street Fritters at Maxwell Food Centre. 1 Kadayanallur Street #01-64, Singapore 069184. +65 9239 6464.
Chinatown Complex Food Centre
While you won’t be able to sample all the offerings at the 200 stalls housed within Chinatown Complex Food Centre, you’ll certainly be spoilt for choice. Singapore’s largest hawker centre is often packed with hungry locals, so we recommend visiting early to avoid long queues.
If you’re feeling peckish, opt for a pre-drinks snack at Ann Chin Popiah and Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao. The latter is famous for its juicy xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and spicy Szechuan wantons (Chinese dumplings). Hungrier diners should consider stick-to-your-rib classics from Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice or Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck.
Ann Chin Popiah at Chinatown Complex Food Centre. 335 Smith Street #02-112, Singapore 050335. +65 8189 4699.
Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao at Chinatown Complex Food Centre. 335 Smith Street #02-135, Singapore 050335. +65 9743 5287.
Wed-Sun 11.30am-3pm, 5-8.30pm.
Lian He Ji Ben Claypot Rice at Chinatown Complex Food Centre. 335 Smith Street #02-198/199, Singapore 050335. +65 6227 2470.
Mon-Wed, Fri-Sun 4.30-10.30pm.
Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck at Chinatown Complex Food Centre. 335 Smith Street #02-156, Singapore 050335. +65 9018 9052.
Mon-Thu 10.30am-6.30pm; Sat & Sun 10am-6.30pm.
Chinatown Food Street
Variety is the name of the game at Chinatown Food Street, an al fresco stretch of eateries serving up myriad hawker delights. Tuck into tender sticks of satay (grilled meat skewers), plates of orh luak (fried oyster omelette) and bowls of fragrant South Indian curries for a multicultural feast.
If you’re visiting in a large group, be sure to order a plate of chilli crab to share. Singapore’s national seafood dish comprises stir-fried crab in a sauce that melds sweet, savoury and spicy flavours.
Chinatown Food Street. 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335.
For adventurous souls in search of stellar spirits
With elegant wood interiors, quiet jazz music and a meticulously-curated selection of spirits, D.Bespoke is the ideal oasis for the discerning connoisseur. This elegant establishment has been around for 25 years, and has clinched a spot on the Asia’s Best Bars list since 2017. The bar’s trove of alcohol—which includes a rare collection of Japanese whiskies—will give even aficionados an education on the nuances of world-class spirits.
D.Bespoke. 2 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089816. +65 8141 5741.
Mon-Thu 6pm-1am; Fri & Sat 6pm-2am.
A regular fixture on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list—with rankings from 2016-2019—Gibson boasts stellar cocktails in an unpretentious environment. Be sure to sample their namesake concoction, made with Roku Gin and homemade Ginjyo sake-vermouth.
If you’re looking to bond over great music and unbridled party vibes, Flagship—Gibson’s sister bar on the first floor—is popular for its grunge rock interiors, current Top 40s jams and whisky-based cocktails.
Gibson. 20 Bukit Pasoh Road Level 2, Singapore 089834. +65 9114 8385.
Mon-Thu 6pm-1am; Fri & Sat 6pm-2am.
For laidback lounges and quiet watering holes
An elegant, New York-style speakeasy located in the basement of Coriander Leaf Grill, Catchfly is an ideal refuge from the bustling streets of Ann Siang Hill, and a great place to kick back for a quiet drink. Head mixologist Liam Baer’s specialty cocktail is the Honey Badger—made with rosemary-infused bourbon, chartreuse, lemon, honey and ginger.
Catchfly at Coriander Leaf Grill. 12 Ann Siang Road Basement, Singapore 069692. +65 6222 7183.
Tue-Thu 6pm-1am; Fri & Sat 6pm-3am.
Oxwell & Co.
Indulge in lush greenery and a view of Singapore’s skyline on the rooftop of Oxwell & Co. The Hendrick’s Gin Rooftop Garden on the pub’s fourth floor is a tranquil oasis that doubles up as an urban rooftop garden. No prizes for guessing what goes into the cocktails here!
Oxwell & Co. 5 Ann Siang Road, Singapore 069688. +65 6438 7036.
For merriment and surprising twists
Junior The Pocket Bar
Forget about Old Fashioned cocktails. Instead, embark on a globe-spanning education into the world of liquors, by award-winning (and irrepressibly enthusiastic) mixologist Peter Chua.
This hidden watering hole distinguishes itself with fresh themes and featured spirits every few months. Learn about the intricate tastes of agave and absinthe, venture into the tropical escapism of Tiki bars, and let the bartenders here regale you with tales of Prohibition-era New Orleans.
Junior The Pocket Bar. 43 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088464. +65 8121 1462.
Looking for a tipple that doubles up as a conversation starter? Head over to Native. This award-winning bar champions all things Asian, with produce foraged from Singapore and alcohol sourced from across the region.
To savour a drink that draws inspiration from the tastes of nonya* cuisine, we suggest sampling the Peranakan cocktail, made with Jackfruit rum, laksa leaves, candlenut and gula melaka (palm sugar). Other drinks on offer—like their Pineapple Arrack—are certain to enrich your imagination.
*Nonya cuisine is also known as Peranakan (meaning "local born") cuisine. The cuisine comes from people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.
Native. 52A Amoy Street, Singapore 069878. +65 8869 6520.
The perfect hangout for party folks looking to (literally) get their game on and rediscover the joys of retro, Nineteen80 is an arcade bar and discotheque that pays homage to the ‘80s and ‘90s.
The bar’s main draw is undoubtedly its slew of old-school videogame classics like Metal Slug and Street Fighter 2, but the bar also hosts DJs who spin up tunes that hearken back to the ‘80s and 90’s (think Bon Jovi and the Backstreet Boys).
Nineteen80. 21 Tanjong Pagar Road #01-05, Singapore 044888. +65 9183 6073.
Tue &Thu 5.30pm-1am; Wed & Fri 5.30pm-3am; Sat 7pm-4am.
For night owls with supper cravings
A great way to address your hangover before it hits, Burger Joint serves up a range of mammoth cheeseburgers, hailing all the way from New York.
You can get a regular hamburger, or order various trimmings like jalapenos, bacon and sriracha. The restaurant’s kitchen opens until 11.30pm on Thursdays to Saturdays, which makes this a great option if you’re partying late on the weekend.
Burger Joint. 115 Amoy Street #01-03, Singapore 069935.+65 6221 8648.
Mon-Wed 11.30am-11pm; Thu-Sat 11.30am-midnight; Sun 11.30am-8pm.
Kko Kko Nara
If you think that only colonels know how to make great fried chicken, you should pop by Kko Kko Nara along Tanjong Pagar Road. This unpretentious eatery serves up crispy Korean-styled fried chicken, and is a great option for large groups.
The restaurant opens until 3am, so rest assured that you’ll have ample time to make merry before sating your appetite.
Kko Kko Nara. 68 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088489. +65 6224 8186.
Mon-Sat 11am-3pm, 6pm-3am; Sun 6pm-1am.
Chinatown’s culinary delights aren’t just for night owls. Click here for a guide to this heritage district’s range of delectable food offerings.