Cafe-hopping in Chinatown

Hip eateries have sprung up over Chinatown in the past year, hinting at a wave of gentrification that has seeped into neighbouring estates like Everton Park and Tiong Bahru. Most of the Chinatown cafes are opened by young entrepreneurs drawn by the area’s rich culture and its central location. Here are six to check out.

1. Arterial, 24 Temple Street+65 6222 8589

-- PHOTO: ARTERIAL

Right in the heart of Chinatown amid a cluster of teahouses and hotels along Temple Street, this 40-seater cafe sees brunch-loving hipsters jostling for space with tourists ducking in for a beer to escape the searing heat. It opened in July and serves Western fare such as salads and pastas. The spot it sits on was previously occupied by two eateries: the now-defunct Table 24 restaurant and the CrazyWorld cafe set up by devotees of Taiwanese mega-band Mayday.

Arterial is in the midst of revamping its menu, to be launched soon. A spokesman said it will also feature a retail space along its walls selling French decor knick-knacks, kitchenware and collectibles in partnership with local blogshop Au Lapin Noir.

Open: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 10pm, closed on MondayFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/arterial.sgInstagram: @arterial.sg

2. 49 Seats, 49 Kreta Ayer Road+65 6225 4332

-- PHOTO: 49 SEATS

Opened early last year, this Western fusion dinner-supper joint has earned rave reviews for creative dishes such as its Smoked Duck Aglio Olio and Tom Yam Seafood Pasta (both $14.90) and Golden Escargot ($9.90).

Unlike most other eateries, it stays open into the wee hours of the morning to cater to the supper crowd and hungry partygoers trickling in at all hours of the night from the Tanjong Pagar area.

Open: Monday to Thursday, 6pm to 1am, Friday and Saturday, 6pm to 4.30am, closed on SundayFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/49SeatsInstagram: @49seats

3. Bread & Hearth Artisanal Bakery Cafe, 18 Keong Saik Road+65 6534 7800

-- PHOTO: BREAD & HEARTH ARTISANAL BAKERY CAFE

This four-month-old eatery specialises in pastries and rustic breads, such as sourdough and baguettes, baked in small batches to ensure quality. It also serves brunch favourites like English breakfast and grilled pork patty sandwiches on weekends.

Popular items include the plain croissant ($2.80), made with unbleached flour from France, as well as the chocolat blanc bun ($2.80), made from melted white chocolate and without any sugar.Open: 8am to 9.30pm dailyFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/BreadAndHearthInstagram: @breadandhearth

4. Well Dressed Salad Bar & Cafe, 282 South Bridge Road+65 6534 7727

-- PHOTO: WELL DRESSED SALAD BAR & CAFE

Located right below Eight Treasures Vegetarian Restaurant, this vegetarian cafe which opened in June last year offers a huge drinks selection, which includes beer, coffees and fresh fruit smoothies ($2 to $8.50).

For grub, customers can either order the salad bowls ($5.50 to $9.50), or customise their own, selecting their own greens, toppings and dressings. Set dishes like vegetarian satay ($10) and the Rocketfella Burger ($12.90) are also available.

Open: 11.30am to 10pm dailyFacebook: -Instagram: #welldressedsaladbar

5. The Mama Shop, 195 Pearl’s Hill Terrace+65 9168 2258

Felicia Chin at her cafe Mama Shop at Pearls Hill Terrace. -- PHOTO: RUDY WONG

Perched atop a secluded, grassy knoll inside a former police barracks converted into an office building, the retro-themed Mama Shop is the newest entrant to the string of cafes that have sprouted in Chinatown.

Opened by television actresses Felicia Chin and Sora Ma, 30, the eatery serves snacks like quiche, curry pie and waffles with sweet and savory fillings ($4.90), as well as burgers ($10.90 or $14.90). Childhood knick-knacks like country flag erasers, wafer biscuits and chaptehs are also on sale.

Open: 12pm to 10pm on weekdays, 12pm till late on weekendsFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Mama-Shop/1499558526956124 Instagram: @themamashopsg

6. The Company of Cats, 6B Mosque Street+65 6220 3835

-- PHOTO: THE COMPANY OF CATS/FACEBOOK

This cat-friendly cafe houses previously stray or injured cats which customers can play with in an enclosed 'cat area' (entrance fee is $14 including a drink), although pet owners are not allowed to bring their own felines along. Marketed as a "cat cafe with a conscience", it also donates money to non-profit organisation Animal Lovers League, which cares for forsaken dogs and cats.

On top of cuddling with cute furry felines, customers can also order chow like toasted sandwiches ($4.50 to $6.50), desserts like mini lava cake ($3.50 for one, $6.50 for two) and Highlander coffee ($3.50).

Opening hours: 12pm to 10pm, Tuesdays to Fridays, and 11am to 10pm, Saturdays to SundaysFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecompanyofcats/Instagram: @thecompanyofcats

jianxuan@sph.com.sg