This is Singapore’s must-visit neighbourhood
A short walk down Waterloo Street lets you experience the city’s multi-cultural identity, vibrant indie arts scene and the locals’ favourite pastime, eating
- May 2019
As one of Singapore’s oldest streets, Waterloo Street is incredibly rich in history. On the street alone, there’s the oldest synagogue in Southeast Asia, a Roman Catholic Church, and a Hindu and Chinese temple. But it’s not just these 19th century religious buildings that make this street one of the most special ones in Singapore — it’s how they sit right alongside a burgeoning creative scene driven by theatre groups, indie designers and local chefs, creating a charming mix of old and new. Here are some of the best gems to check out.
1. Sri Krishnan Temple and Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple
The former is a Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Lord Krishna; the latter is one of the city’s oldest Buddhist temples. For over 130 years, the two ornate temples have stood side-by-side, resulting in interesting cross-worshipping rituals — you’ll see Buddhist worshippers placing joss sticks in the giant urn outside the Hindu temple.
152 and 178 Waterloo Street
This non-profit arts space is dedicated to photography and film. There are two buildings — a pretty canary yellow chapel building that regularly holds exhibitions and film screenings, and an adjacent building where you can buy prints and books by Singaporean visual artists.
In the day, people head to this non-descript building to buy Buddhist artifacts or tuck into some of the best affordable vegetarian fare (Mushroom Udon from Tracy Juice Culture and wholemeat tortilla wraps with curry potatoes and tofu from New Green Pasture are must-tries). At night, Fortune Centre becomes a mecca for specialty Japanese restaurants such as Kappou Japanese Sushi Tapas Bar — a teeny-tiny, one-woman sushi bar with a focus on aged fish — and Motsu-ya that serves mainly chicken and beef offal dishes.
190 Middle Road
Sumo Bar Happy
Maybe it’s the playlist of Japanese hip-hop, the effortlessly cool vibe or the fact that everything that comes out of the kitchen of this modern Japanese craft noodle restaurant is painstakingly made from scratch (even the togarashi is a house blend) … whatever it is, Sumo Bar Happy has the recipe for a great night out.
When I Was Four
Tucked away on the second floor of Waterloo Centre is this quirky design studio and shop that celebrates homegrown designers. For locals, the collection of bags, notebooks and tote bags inspired by childhood memories will make them feel warm and fuzzy. For tourists, a visit is a fun way to get acquainted with quintessentially local parts of life like kopitiam culture and Singlish.