Before you dismiss the extreme north as just an ulu part of Singapore (and home to the zoo), check out what we found on a recent visit. We stumbled upon a bunch of cool new arrivals, tasty eats and possibly even our newest favorite hangout spots.
Where to eat
Chong Pang Market & Food Centre (104 Yishun Ring Rd.) This bustling market is Yishun’s mainstay for cheap and good hawker staples. Don’t miss the boneless braised duck rice (#01-161), chwee kueh (#01-142) and mee hoon kueh (#01-154).
Chong Pang Nasi Lemak
This is one of the culinary standouts near Chong Pang so if you’re a nasi lemak fanatic, a pilgrimage here is a must.
Sembawang White Beehoon
Another cult favorite, this time hidden inside the sleepy Jalan Legundi estate closer to Sembawang. It serves an addictive, Hokkien mee-like signature dish topped with generous servings of prawns and always has snaking queues during mealtimes.
Sembawang Traditional Claypot Rice
Though not quite as crowded as its White Beehoon neighbor, this is another pretty good eatery with its own rendition of white beehoon topped with clams and chilli padi as well as a very flavorful claypot rice.
Holy Cow Creamery
This hip homemade ice cream specialist has been packing in dessert-hungrynortherners since it opened last year. They also serve pretty good coffee made with beans from local coffee roasters Santiano.
This new kid on the block seems to be the only third wave coffee place around the north. It specializes in non-traditional signature concoctions, like espresso combined with ice-blended yuzu juice, honey and lime leaves.
D’Rubinah Restaurant (592 Sembawang Rd)
No laidback neighborhood is complete without its own 24-hour prata place. This one, just beside Sembawang Shopping Centre, serves South Indian and Thai Muslim food to boot.
Where to drink
Located in the 24-hour park Orto (see below for more) near Khatib, this laidback craft beer joint overlooks a tranquil pond. Their selection is pretty decent (and cheap compared to craft beer places around town) with a focus on Belgian beers and inexpensive commercial beer towers.
A longtime resident of the north tipped us off about this surprisingly cool grill and wine bar located in a residential estate behind Sembawang Shopping Centre.
We adore this biker bar that’s all the way up on the northern tip of the island (hello Malaysia!). You have to drive or ride through a dirt path to get here but it’s worth it. The bar is outfitted in all sorts of motorbike accessories and heavy metal memorabilia and obviously, the menu is all macho stuff like hot wings and bourbon.
Cycling in Yishun, credit: chuwasg
Where to play
Sembawang Park (Sembawang Rd)
This 15-hectare green lung occupies the historic site of the British Royal Navy’s naval base and has a natural beach, fishing jetty and a restaurant inside the conserved colonial Beaulieu House.
This new park (where Bottle Tree Park once was) packed with lots of dining and sporting activities. There’s paintball, futsal, 24-hour prawning and fishing, and it’s even home to Singapore’s biggest trampoline park.
Lower Seletar Reservoir
A treasured late-night hangout and make-out spot, Yishun Ave. 1 forms a dam across the scenic reservoir. There’s also a Water-Venture water sports center here.
Yishun and Sembawang are both great for cyclists as there are plenty of dedicated bike paths either already built or in the works. These paths are integrated in the wider Northern Explorer Loop park connector network.
Yishun, credit: Zhao
Where to live
Thanks to lower prices (for now), infrastructural developments and the promise of a slower-paced lifestyle, there are lots of new and upcoming condos in the area. The highest-profile one has to be Northpark Residences right smack above Yishun MRT and the to-be-revamped Northpoint mall. Other developments of note are Victory 8, the forthcoming Nine Residences and two new as-yet-unnamed developments by property giant CDL.