Singapore’s own hip enclave, Holland Village is a melange of heritage and modern café culture that promises surprises
By Pamela Chow
(Photo: Terence Ong)
In the centre of Holland Village, a windmill stands tall — a picture of tranquillity.
In this multi-faceted enclave, hawkers and florists hustle from early morning to open their stalls, lunch crowds stream the streets lined with cafes and restaurants and, by night, music and merry-makers gather at various lively watering holes. This colourful neighbourhood is perhaps the most diverse and fascinating in Singapore.
Holland Village is much more than its popular eateries, bars and hangout spots. Weekender tells you how you can rediscover this hip enclave.
The Commonwealth & Holland Village Heritage Tour takes participants through the area, including to this old-school McDonald’s outlet. (Photo: My Queenstown Facebook)
1. Join a heritage tour
Did you know that the area of Queenstown, next to which Holland Village is located, was once a military village? Find out how it grew from its humble beginnings in the 1870s into the bustling attraction of today, by joining the Commonwealth & Holland Village Heritage Tour.
On this four-hour trail, you’ll visit Singapore’s last Hakka cemetery and the Ridout Conservation Area, among others. The next tour will be on May 15, and participants must arrive at Holland Village MRT Station 15 minutes before the tour starts.
Due to travelling required and rough terrain, participants are recommended to come in comfortable shoes and with an EZ-Link card.
Commonwealth & Holland Village Heritage Tour, www.myqueenstown.eventbrite.sg.
The Holland Village Market & Food Centre is home to the famous Holland Village Bee Hoon (Photo: Terence Ong / Wikimedia Commons)
2. Back to breakfast basics
Craving for some local comfort food? The Holland Village Market & Food Centre is home to the famous Holland Village Bee Hoon, which often sees a long but fast-moving queue.
Highly recommended by residents from this part of town, Holland Village Bee Hoon is a popular choice for breakfast. The bee hoon comes with a choice of accompanying food items, from fishcake to sunny-side-up eggs to chicken wings, and at highly-affordable prices.
Holland Village Bee Hoon is open every day from 6.30am to 1.30pm, except on Mondays.
Holland Village Bee Hoon, 1 Lorong Mambong, #01-01
Chip Bee Gardens in Holland Village is home to Lemon Zest, known for whimsical homeware.
3. Shop for quirky homeware
While Holland Village is the main attraction, Chip Bee Gardens across the road is also a fount of hidden finds. Other than ice cream parlours, restaurants, cafes and a baking supplies store, this estate is also home to Lemon Zest, a store known for its eclectic and whimsical homeware.
From country-style jars and printed aprons to nifty gadgets, its products will put a smile on your face and on the faces of your guests at home. You can even buy a cookbook or two so you can put your spanking new utensils to use.
Lemon Zest, 43 Jalan Merah Saga, #01-80
Known for steak and English high tea, Fosters is a cosy corner hidden in Holland Village. (Photo: My Food Story Facebook)
4. Enjoy great steak and scones
Do you prefer eating over cooking? Head to the classic Fosters Steakhouse, which has been around since 1960 and remains a favourite today for its top-quality steak and English-style menus.
Its signature dish is the Fillet Fantastique, a prime beef fillet on a bed of fried onions and crowned with juicy button mushrooms. Fosters is also known for its high tea set — more specifically, its buttery scones.
Tucked away at the side of Holland Village, this cottage-style restaurant exudes a warm and welcoming vibe with its romantic al fresco dining porch and cosy interiors. It’s a must-visit.
Fosters Steakhouse, 277 Holland Avenue
Get your Lego fix – from toddler sets to collectors’ items – at Secret Chamber in Holland Road Shopping Centre (Photo: Mah Yew Fai Facebook)
5. Go crazy for Lego
A shop that exclusively stocks only Lego toys, Secret Chamber has an outlet hiding within Holland Road Shopping Centre.
Started by a local engineer and businessman with a love for Legos since young, Secret Chamber brings the joy of Lego to people of all ages — from educational kits for kids to limited-edition sets for collectors.
Secret Chamber, 211 Holland Ave, #03-47
6. Shop up party novelties
Supplying locals and the expat comm-unity with party items and Halloween costumes, Khiam Teck party novelties shop has been around since the 1960s when it first began as a family-run provision shop.
The shop looks as though a toy box of oddities just exploded: It’s packed wall to wall with party decorations, knick-knacks and even costumes for themed celebrations and Halloween.
During the Mid-Autumn Festival period, Khiam Teck brings in traditional rice paper lanterns that customers can light up with candles for a good old-fashioned Lantern Festival celebration.
This is a go-to shop for many students or parents looking for party items.
Khiam Teck, 265 Holland Ave
Who knows what other surprises you might uncover the next time you visit Holland Village?
Did you know?
(Photo: National Parks Board)
Hidden Park in Holland Village
In Holland Village, a ‘park’ is hidden in plain sight. Located at the junction of Holland Road and Holland Avenue — where the gastro-bar Park stands — is actually Holland Village Park.
This 0.3ha peaceful area is where visitors can rest under the shade of one of its three mature raintrees, perhaps while deciding where next in Holland Village to explore.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of Weekender, Issue 151, April 29 – May 12, 2016, with the headline ‘Rediscovering Holland Village’.