Singapore Tourism Highlights Local Brands by Reopening Doors to Tourists: Part Two

SINGAPORE has many local brands that are worth looking into, as Singaporeans are known to bring their mark of excellence and perfectionism in everything they do.

One such brand is Awfully Chocolate, a boutique that started with a single product and has since evolved into several cafes and restaurants that all showcase dark chocolate. Its finest melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolate truffles are made from the finest 70% Belgian dark chocolate. We tried the chocolate chip cookies and they were also very good.

The Coconut Club is known for its Nasi Lemak and other coconut dishes. Seared Akaroa Salmon at Open Farm Community in Dempsey Hill

One of the most interesting places we visited was the Intan Peranakan Heritage Museum, a designated heritage house owned by Alvin Yapp who filled it with Peranakan artifacts and antiquities. From the outside, the house looks like a typical two-story house in an affluent neighborhood, but the spacious interior houses Yapp’s extensive collection of intricate wooden furniture, jars, Tiffin holders, beaded slippers, china Chinese Peranakan, Nyonya batik sarong and many other priceless items.

There are so many things to see in the museum. Let me tell you, even the toilets are Instagram worthy and Yap is such an engaging storyteller. He has a story for every object in his house. For example, the jars that line the staircase were used as spittoons and chamber pots at the time.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, visits to Intan must be scheduled in advance. The museum can comfortably accommodate up to 40 people and the venue can be booked for special events, such as engagements, dinners, birthdays and even small weddings.

Dinner that night was at Potato Head located inside a heritage building in Chinatown. The place has several restaurants but we went to the rooftop bar where we had burgers and fries.

Design Orchard on Orchard Road showcases local fashion, beauty and accessories brands

For after dinner drinks we went to Native Bar on Amoy Street where we had some interesting cocktails and soft drinks. The theme here is foraging, so we had lots of fermented drinks with local ingredients. We were seated in the loft, which is a cool place to relax.

On the third day of our trip, we did the famous Sidecar Tour of Kampong Glam. You’ll enjoy the 1-hour sidecar tour of a vintage Singapore Sidecars Vespa. They will provide the helmet and a protective plastic for your head. Kampong Glam was once the seat of Malay royalty and best known for its two main landmarks: the Sultan Mosque, the oldest and largest mosque in Singapore, and the Istana Kampong Gelam, the former Sultan’s Palace (now known as the Malay Heritage Centre). This is quite an expensive tour at around 7,000 pesos upwards, but worth every peso if money is not an issue. It’s an experience you can only find in Singapore. This is a tour that will allow you to see Singapore from a totally different perspective.

Next stop was the Vintage Cameras Museum, which is shaped like a camera and displays around 1,000 cameras (most vintage). These include spy cameras, walking stick camera, pigeon cameras, 3D camera and gun cameras. The short tour is quite interesting, especially if you like photography.

Lunch was at the Coconut Club on Arab Street, where we all had the Nasi Lemak, a dish of fried chicken and rice cooked in coconut milk and served with a sunny egg, peanuts, spicy fried anchovies and sambal ( chilli sauce). I’m not usually a fan of this dish but the Coconut Club version is really really good and the portion is generous so no one in the party can finish their food. This is a restaurant I would definitely return to. The restaurant also has lovely, airy interiors, and there’s an alfresco space outside if you don’t mind the heat.

We took a quick trip to SIFR Aromatics for the Perfume Discovery Workshop. The store specializes in custom fragrance blends, small batch fragrances, soy wax scented candles, natural essential oil blends, and home fragrances. The workshop gives you the opportunity to create your own perfume by learning the different notes. As a perfume enthusiast, I love this concept. I saw another perfume around the corner, so if that’s your thing, you know where to go.

The next day we went to the new Museum of Ice Cream on Dempsey Hill. If you have small children, they will definitely love this. There are lots of free ice creams in the different rooms. My friend told me the best time to go is at night when there are lights outside so I’ll keep that in mind.

We had an unforgettable lunch at Open Farm Community in Dempsey Hill, which has an open kitchen concept and is pet friendly. Everything they served us was exquisite. The restaurant also grows its own vegetables and I believe the menu changes depending on what is in season and what is available. They also suggest wine pairings for the dishes. For my main, I had the Akaroa Curry Pan-Seared Salmon, which was really good, but what I enjoyed the most were the cauliflower wings, which tasted like Korean chicken. It was a starter meant to be shared but I finished a bowl on my own. It was so good.

Our next stop before dinner was Design Orchard, a local brand storefront on Orchard Road. The place is vast and home to different brands offering fashion, skincare, jewelry, and even perfume. I wish I had more time to explore (Design Orchard is across [email protected]) as so many brands are definitely worth talking about. There were clothes from designer Sabrina Goh and handbags from Cocoonese. What I really loved were the local brand fragrances. I wish I had taken notes because some of the perfumes I tasted smelled really good.

Dinner was at the Chatterbox at the Hilton Singapore Orchard. I will never forget Chatterbox as it was where I had my first meal on my very first visit to Singapore decades ago. Their specialty is, of course, chicken rice and I know you can get great chicken rice in many other places, but to me this is the best for sentimental reasons. Chatterbox, by the way, is a 51-year-old restaurant.

On our last day we did a tour of Chinatown and had some free time. I will soon share my beauty and gourmet finds in my column. If you want to know what Singapore requires for entry, I’ve written about it before here (bit.ly/3pq8mmL).

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