Tiong Bahru

Monday, October 21, 2013

I've always wanted to explore Tiong Bahru and its been on my "post-EYA plans" for the longest time ever but somehow I guess I just never got to doing it until last Friday. In recent years, this heartland estate in Singapore has gotten much publicity surrounding it, on newspapers, magazines and popular blogs, featuring it as a "hip neighbourhood" with super cool speciality shops and lovely cafés.

This is part two of my crazy food adventure day, of which I explore Upper Thomson and Tiong Bahru and in this post, I talk about my after Options journey with Shermaine and Swan to Tiong Bahru (shoutout to Swan: it's her birthday today! :-) Though I'll blog about her celebration some other day - have loads of things lined up to blog about recently). I met the two of them at the MRT station and they have actually just had their French O level paper (great job guys) at the Singapore Examinations and Assessments Board nearby and were waiting for me while munching on tapioca chips. 

When you exit the MRT, the first thing you'd see would be the plaza but that's not where the gems are hidden. Shermaine brought us to the residential areas and the little shops under the blocks of flats are just lovely if you look hard enough :-)

On a journey to the unknown :-)

Our tour guide hehe :-) Thank you Shermaine for sharing this place with us!

First stop - Books Actually at No.9 Yong Siak Street! I'm sure most of you would have heard of this bookstore before but never really got to visiting it because it's rather out of the way but please do because this is a beautiful beautiful place which is perfect for book-lovers who like reading books or perhaps just like the smell of books! You will not be disappointed, I promise. Honestly, it has such a wide selection of books and magazines from overseas and it also pushes local works as well - I think everyone will find the perfect book from there, if not anywhere else. 

A gem in the middle of the housing estate :-) 

The cooking books there are just so pleasant to look at - beautiful photography and lovely simple recipes :-)

Also, which bookstore would have a real cat just sitting atop several books looking at its customers when it walks by and being so prim and proper and quiet. Honestly, there is a certain magical aura to this bookstore and I love it so much. 

Besides just books and reading material, Books Actually also carries many old school knick knacks and things that might possibly bring you down memory lane. At least, it did for me because I was quite a traditional 90s kid (and awfully proud of it!) but if you were the kind that grew up getting all the coolest gadgets and technology, perhaps not everything will give you a sense of nostalgia. Still pretty cool to check out and look at though. They sell typewriters too! :-) 

The weighing scales hanging there - the kinds that rag-and-bone men (otherwise known as Karung Gunis) use to weigh newspapers to determine how much he'll pay to buy them from the seller! 

They sell CDs that you'd probably won't find in stores anymore (so yes if you're a fan of really old but still classic singers, this is probably the place to pick up their albums) - They even sell vinyl records! How cool is that? Except that you'll need a vinyl record player to play the songs and that's more difficult to attain but imagine how amazing that'll be. 

And we found a rather dusty mirror tucked in the side of the store :-) Yay you guys are great company - Swan and Shermaine!

Took a photo of this book because I have a feeling I'll probably be the female protagonist of a book with the title "The Case of the Woman/ Girl Who Died Laughing" - whoops I had better control my laughing a bit. 

An angle of its interior - not the full picture but you get the idea :-) Magical magical place, really. 

Books Actually - worth a visit. I'd probably be back to uncover more great goodies I didn't discover on this short trip. 

We headed to another bookstore but unfortunately photography wasn't really allowed in the store but it isn't that suitable for my age group anyway - it's more for kids! I won't divulge more details but if you do happen to chance upon the store, give it a try and enter the bookstore because it'll bring you back to your childhood (it did for me, at least). 

We walked more and found Plain Vanilla Bakery at 1D Yong Siak Street! I've eaten at least two plain vanilla cupcakes before but I've never been to the bakery itself and it was quite a pleasant sight because it was decorated in a very homely way, with a lot of wood accents that I personally love. 

Their cupcakes! :-) It doesn't have any form of like labels telling the customers their flavours so it sort of forces you to talk to the people working there which is a good thing as it brings about a bit of social interaction, which is a nice personal touch. 

To be honest, I didn't know that Plain Vanilla served other types of pastries and cakes - will definitely give them a try some other time. 

I got an Earl Grey cupcake for $3.50! It tasted very strongly of earl grey and it reminded me a lot of the Earl Grey ice cream from Salted Caramel Artisan Ice Cream Parlour. Except that it wasn't cold so the texture was different. The icing was a little stiff though - perhaps because it's been sitting on the counter top for so long (we went in the evening) - and we could taste the little bits of powdery icing sugar. 

It was quite thoughtful how they provided lemon water. My only qualm was that they used really large plastic cups that was of really high quality - it was very unenvironmentally friendly to be honest. They should at least decrease the size of the plastic cups or use something that's biodegradable because the plastic they used here was really hard and sturdy good-quality plastic, which is a waste because customers will just drink a few sips and throw the cup away. 

Lovely swing outside the shop!

Lovely exploring companions :-) 

Final stop and the one I was looking forward to the most because of so many recent reviews, Tiong Bahru Bakery at 56 Eng Hoon Street! :-) It was located at a pretty far corner but I finally managed to try what everyone's been raving about, which made me quite happy.

Shermaine! :-)

The interior was really quite dark and the lighting reminded me so much of the Maché chain of restaurants - they both gave off a slight marketplace sort of feel which I guess helps to add to the idea that the food they serve is fresh. 

The selection of buns and pasties!

More buns and pastries! Shermaine actually didn't like buns and stuff like that (she prefers cakes and sweeter stuff so she didn't get anything) so if you don't, you shouldn't go because that's really all they've got - unless you like coffee. 

Swan and I got the Berries Crumble ($6.80) and Kouign Amann ($4)! The prices are a little steep and to be entirely honest, the standard was rather disappointing. The berries crumble was rather ordinary and I felt like it was something that I might be able to bake in my own kitchen - I normally don't feel like that but yes it was the truth. The berries inside were really tart and it was an unpleasant feeling to have something so acidic when you were expecting something sweeter. 

The Kouign Amann was the saving grace though, it was really doughy and buttery and sweet with sugar melted all over the top and I really liked the many layers though I don't consider this pastry to be that fantastic. However, both Swan and I preferred this one so much more to the crumble. When I was eating it, I guessed that it was made a similar way a puff pastry would be made (with cold butter in between) and I just googled it and I was right :-) It was good, but I'm not sure if it's worth the price. Wouldn't hurt to give it a try though. 

All in all, my trip to Tiong Bahru with Shermaine and Swan was really fun and fulfilling. Thank you so much for the lovely evening and I'm quite sure I'd be visiting Tiong Bahru pretty often because there are really many other cool quaint shops and cafés ('quaint' as described by Swan) that I would love to patronize! 

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I am a student working on a project regarding Tiong Bahru and the recents cafes and restaurants that have appeared in the area. I noticed that you have reviewed some of them in your blog. Would you be so kind as to help me fill up this survey regarding the Tiong Bahru estate? It will take less than 10 mins at most, thank you for your time!

    Link : https://docs.google.com/forms/d/128jBWQvfCb0gLEqJdvfQpfyn6000PHwqdV4losiEzuI/viewform