Compared to its well-known neighbour Tiong Bahru, the Redhill and Bukit Merah precinct is often perceived as a quaint mature suburban residential town with storied shops that have loyally served its residents for years. But many modern cafés and restaurants have made this neighbourhood their home in recent years due to its rustic charm.
Where is Redhill and Bukit Merah in Singapore?
Redhill and Bukit Merah are in the southernmost part of Singapore’s Central Region and the city centre’s fringe. Redhill is directly accessible via the MRT on the East-West line. But most shops are scattered all around under HDB estates, which means that you’ll have to explore on foot. The core of Bukit Merah is reachable by bus only and the district is neighbours with Tiong Bahru and Alexandra.
What’s interesting about these neighbourhoods?
Gazetted as a mature estate by the Singapore Government, Redhill and Bukit Merah are filled with residential HDB buildings and heritage shops. Entrepreneurial individuals have recognised its charm, setting up some of the best cafes and restaurants in the neighbourhoods, injecting youthful energy to revitalise this district.
(Fun fact: Bukit Merah is the Malay translation for Redhill – ‘Bukit’ is hill, and ‘Merah’ is red.)
Speciality coffee roasters Alchemist brews fragrant hot cuppas deep in the Bukit Merah industrial zone. Another reputable homegrown coffee brand, Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee, operates a cafe while continuing their business as a coffee bean wholesaler. They also supply their unique blends to various F&B eateries in Singapore.
Meanwhile, lovers of durian should head to Durian Lab Cafe. Owned by Ah Seng Durian, you can be sure to taste quality imports of the sweet delicacy here. But first, have a meal at Abundance. This Taiwanese-style cafe offers Taiwan’s representative street foods like Gua Bao and bite-sized snacks such as Dumplings in Red Chilli Oil and Prawn Toast to share.
Who says a mature estate is unexciting? Rediscover the charming neighbourhoods by eating your way through speciality eateries ranging from modern zi char to a flashy Thai Bistro and Bar. Read on for the best places to eat in Redhill and Bukit Merah.
10 best cafes and restaurants to visit in Redhill and Bukit Merah
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You can often find Alchemist outlets at places that are unique – its flagship store at Khong Guan’s former biscuit factory in Tai Seng says it all. Alchemist at Jalan Kilang is housed in an Instagrammable neo-gothic building called The Mill that looks like it’s plucked right out of Batman’s Gotham City. Its interior here is minimalist industrial, as with Alchemist’s sister outlets.
No surprises on the menu here too, which sports the familiar and reliable offerings that make Alchemist a go-to for a cup of java. The Dark Matter house-blend remains a favourite, and here you can get it in Black, White, Mocha, or Pourover. You can also pair your drink with selected pastries like croissants and danish supplied by local micro-bakery Bakehaus.
(Image credit: @alchemist.sg/Instagram)
Located inside urban and community farming space City Sprouts (formerly known as Sprouts Hub), Viewdee Thai Bistro and Bar brings the vibrant Bangkok night market vibe to the heartlands. This new eatery is co-owned by actor Chew Chor Meng, who also owns a Mookata shop under his belt with his two friends.
Viewdee Thai Bistro and Bar cleverly utilise the canteen layout (it was formerly a secondary school) to demarcate the respective food tenants amidst the captivating neon light signs. Here you can find dishes ranging from a one-of-a-kind flaming pork knuckle and fish head steamboat, to popular Thai dishes like Thai Omelette and Moo Ping (pork skewers). Wash off the savouriness with a refreshing glass of ‘Beer Gao’, a concoction of stout and beer.
(Image credit: @jasjerlyn/Instagram)
It’s important to keep up with times, but still embrace heritage too. With 50 years of experience roasting quality coffee, homegrown roastery Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee understood this and expanded into the café business in 2014. They still supply their beans and blends to eateries in Singapore.
As coffee specialists, they use a unique technique for their cold brew which only requires an hour of steeping instead of the required 12 hours or more. Tiong Hoe’s blend for the cold brew is 50% Columbia and 50% Guatemala, and is roasted darker than usual. The Pollen White cold brew includes honey mixed into the milk to provide a natural sweetness.
(Image credit: @tionghoespecialtycoffee/Instagram)
Abundance delivers witty wordplay alongside delicious Taiwanese dishes. Buns play the starring role here – more specifically, the Taiwanese Gua Bao (pork belly bun). The fluffy semi-circular-shaped bao bun opens up like a mouth to hold all the stuffed ingredients for this one.
Coined as the Chinese ‘hamburger’, Abundance’s version is a satisfying bite with a thick savoury pork belly that’s balanced with sweet peanuts and refreshing pickles. Other yummy xiao chi (side dishes) include dumplings in red chilli oil (Hong You Chao Shou), fried century egg, and crispy Prawn Toast.
(Image credit: @a8undance/Instagram)
A zi char (stir-fry)-bistro concept eatery is not usual, but it’s a great place if you want to enjoy all your favourite dishes under one roof, or simply like to have a wide variety of food to choose from. Combining Chi Bao (赤宝) Chinese Cuisine and Cheval Café Bar (western cuisine), this establishment is located inside the Sports Lifestyle Centre (formerly Bukit Merah Swimming Pool). You can immerse in a resort-like atmosphere here as you dine alfresco by the pool.
Dishes worth looking forward to here include the Cheval Signature Fish and Chips, various pasta dishes, Slow Braised Beef Ribs and even brunch selections on weekends. Alternatively, those who crave Chinese cuisine should try Chi Bao’s succulent Signature Grandma’s Prawn Balls and flavourful wok hei-infused Truffle Fried Rice.
(Image credit: @chevalchibao/Instagram)
What’s better than a two-in -one? Three-in-one, of course! Carrara Café consists of the namesake café, bistro, and a creamery. Depending on how hungry you are, there’s something from light to heavy to satisfy your stomach. Yes, even for those with a sweet tooth.
Share a few dishes from the All Day Breakfast menu such as Sausage Cheese Rosti or Turkey Bacon Eggs Benedict with friends, or go for a full meal with mains like Mentaiko Pasta, Marmite Fried Chicken and Waffle, or Fish & Chips. If you’re looking for dessert, order a scoop of Fresh Coconut or Earl Grey Lavender ice cream with the crispy yet fluffy Signature Waffle that’s topped with chocolate sauce and maple syrup for good measure.
(Image credit: @carraracafesg/Instagram)
You can count on this café to refuel your energy whenever you need it. This sister establishment of Refuel Café at Bedok Reservoir also serves hearty dishes that’ll satisfy hungry diners. All Day Brunch is available here for those who prefer to sleep in over the weekends, and you can expect dishes like the Full Tank to Salmon Pesto with Scrambled Eggs and Pulled Pork Benedict.
Those with a voracious appetite can have mains like Honey BBQ Ribs, Baked Chicken Stew, and signature Double Chilli Crab Pasta. There are two types of crab in the latter – flaky crab meat and crispy soft shell crab – which are drenched in a spicy, creamy egg and tomato-based sauce. You’ll taste an explosion of flavours at once – sweet, sour, and tangy from the tomato to the heat from the chilli.
(Image credit: @refuel2/Instagram)
Ah Seng Durian is a popular establishment for durian lovers, judging from the massive crowd they attract at Ghim Moh Market. Their second outlet in Bukit Merah sees them venturing into the café business with the Durian Lab Café. The cakes and pastries here are supplied by famed haunts Flor Patisserie and Keong Saik Bakery, both of which have incorporated Mao Shan Wang durians into the desserts. Standouts include the Burnt Cheesecake by Keong Saik Bakery and Durian Tart and Mille-Feuille by Flor Patisserie.
(Image credit: @durianlab.cafe/Instagram)
The biggest cafe gems are often hidden deep within HDB estates, and one of them is Roundboy Roasters. The homegrown café-roastery occupies a humble space that offers a curated selection of coffee products, from filter coffee to roasted beans. Roundboy Roasters’ Flat White, in particular, makes a memorable impression thanks to their in-house ‘double chocolate beans’ that exude a lingering rich and dark taste.
Roundboy Roasters also hosts workshops for individuals who are interested to know more about coffee, which not only allows them to educate, but also build a relationship with coffee lovers.
(Image credit: @roundboyroasters/Instagram)
Feel at home away from home at The Living Room Eating House. This cosy café located within Leng Kee Community Club exudes the kampong/neighbourhood spirit with their personable friendly service and familiar local dishes.
The menu boasts of homely favourites like Nasi Lemak, Mee Siam, Prawn Noodles and Bak Kut Teh (Pork ribs soup). Those who wish to reminisce over home-cooked food and no-frills fare can find nostalgic comfort here.
(Image credit: @thelivingroomeatinghouse/Instagram)
(Feature images credits: Alchemist/Website and hero image credits: Engin Akyurt/ Pexels)
This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore
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