Let's Go Downtown

Explore the stops on the new Downtown Line 2

Ahead of the line's official opening on Dec 27, there will be a free preview of the 12 stations this Saturday. Kenneth Goh and Gurveen Kaur check out recreational and dining spots near nine stations.

Photography centre Deck in Prinsep Street is a stone's throw from Rochor station.
Photography centre Deck in Prinsep Street is a stone's throw from Rochor station. PHOTO: DANIEL SWEE


The Senja-Cashew Community Club is equipped with water facilities for all ages. PHOTO: PEOPLE'S ASSOCIATION

What to do: Pack your swimsuits. In the heart of the north-western town is Senja-Cashew Community Club (101 Bukit Panjang Road; open: 9am to 10pm daily; admission to pools: 80 cents to $1.50, weekday, $1 to $2, weekend). It is the first fully integrated community club and sports complex.

Located a 15-minute walk away from the station, the centre is equipped with water facilities for all ages.

Adults can swim laps in the eight-lane Olympic-size swimming pool or relax at the infinity pool with a jacuzzi. For kids, there is a children's playground with water features.

What to eat: A popular stall among Bukit Panjang residents is Hai Xian Zhu Zhou (Block 163A Gangsa Road, Bukit Panjang Coffee Shop; open: 4am to 2.30pm daily except Thursday).

The stall, which sells porridge and noodles, is most well-known for Koka instant noodles cooked in pork broth. The bowls (from $2.50 each) come with chicken, pork or seafood, with eggs and greens. Be prepared to wait for an hour on weekends.

A 10-minute walk away from the station is a cluster of shophouse eateries. Popular stalls in Chun Sheng Yuan Eating House (826 Upper Bukit Timah Road) are Indian Muslim Stall (open: 7am to 3pm daily), which serves 300 crispy plain prata ($1) daily, accompanied by dhal or fish curry. Its neighbour is the 14-year-old Chin Choon Prawn Noodles stall (open: 6.45am to 2pm daily except Monday), which serves prawn noodles tossed in dark soya sauce ($4).

Located nearby is Karu's Indian Banana Leaf Restaurant (808 Upper Bukit Timah Road; open: 10.30am to 10pm daily except Monday, tel: 6762-7284). It serves more than 50 dishes including fishhead curry (from $23.50) and Mysore mutton (from $7).

Waiters holding dishes from Karu's Indian Banana Leaf Restaurant. ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN


The exterior of The ART restaurant. PHOTO: APS.EDU.SG/THEART

What to eat: Take a five-minute stroll to a little-known restaurant, The ART (Assumption Restaurant for Training), located within Assumption Pathway School (30 Cashew Road; open: noon to 5pm, weekday, closed on weekend, tel: 6892-6187).

The 120-seat restaurant is run by students from the school's hospitality services course. The school takes in those who have failed the Primary School Leaving Examination.

On the menu are Western set lunches (noon to 3pm) such as deep-fried crab cake with spicy mango sauce and grilled chicken with black pepper sauce ($12, includes soup, dessert and beverage). Stop by at tea-time (from 3 to 5pm, $4) for coffee or tea with cakes, such as cheesecake and Black Forest. The menu changes fortnightly.

The restaurant opens for dinner once every two months, when it invites chefs to work with students to whip up meals. It is closed until Jan 3 because of the school holidays.


What to do: Dairy Farm Nature Park (100 Dairy Farm Road) is a three-minute walk from the station and great for walks and jogs.

A quarry is part of Dairy Farm Nature Park. PHOTO: NPARKS

Start from the western end of the park, go past the picturesque Singapore Quarry and follow a short nature trail through lush foliage.

Mountain bikers can put their skills to the test at the Bukit Timah mountain bike trail within the park too, which is considered one of the more difficult ones in Singapore.

If you are up for a longer and more scenic route, trek along the Rail Corridor from the nearby Rail Mall.

You will pass by one of the Corridor's landmarks - a heavy steel truss bridge that was built as part of the former Keretapi Tanah Melayu railway line and will be gazetted for conservation.

For those who count shopping as physical exercise, there is the Praisehaven Mega Family Store (500 Upper Bukit Timah Road; open: 10am to 6pm, Monday to Thursday, and 10am to 9pm, Friday and Saturday; tel: 6349-5312) located right next to one of the station's exits.

At 20,000 sq ft, it is the biggest thrift store of the Salvation Army's five shops. The ground floor is dedicated to furniture, while the selection upstairs is an eclectic free-for-all, including clothing, knick-knacks and musical instruments. When SundayLife visited, there was a hospital bed and a Chinese guzheng among the offerings.

What to eat: Two shopping centres flank this station.

Kinsa Sushi's Chirashi Cupcake. PHOTO: KINSA SUSHI

On one end is HillV2 mall in Hillview Rise, which is a five-minute walk away. It has 20 eateries including the two-week-old Nunuiwangja (01-08; open: 11am to 10pm daily), which serves smoothies, teas and eight types of bingsu (from $12.90) such as Peach Cheese and Injeolmi, which comes with soya powder, rice cakes and almond flakes.

Japanese restaurant Kinsa Sushi (02-02; open: 11.30am to 3pm, 5.30 to 10pm, Monday to Thursday, 11.30am to 10pm, Friday and weekend) serves creative dishes such as Chirashi Cupcake ($15.80), a glass of purple rice that is crowned with sashimi and comes with sesame ponzu sauce.

The wagyu don ($24.80) has 60g of medium Kagoshima wagyu beef, with rice and an onsen egg.

At The Rail Mail (434 Upper Bukit Timah Road), there are 14 eateries. Sunnychoice (open: 10am to 9pm daily, tel: 6892-2383) is a vegetarian grocer-cum-eatery that offers wholesome versions of local dishes such as the Thunder Tea Brown Rice ($8.50) and Laksa ($8.50), thickened with almond and soya milk.

For Chinese cuisine, go to Home Restaurant (open: noon to 3pm, 6 to 11pm daily) helmed by home-grown chef Tan Yong Hua. Signature dishes include Peking Duck barbecued with lychee wood (from $68).


What to do: Visit the station's namesake Beauty World Centre (144 Upper Bukit Timah Road). Located between two other malls built in the late 1970s and early 1980s - Bukit Timah Shopping Centre and Beauty World Plaza - Beauty World Centre is the most eclectic of the three, housing businesses ranging from Chinese apothecaries and toy shops to bookstores and education centres.

Some stores have been there since the mall opened in the 1980s. These include Happy Baby Departmental Centre (02-28; open: 11.30am to 9pm, weekday and Saturday, 11.30am to 8pm, Sunday), which sells baby goods and toys; and traditional Chinese medicine retailer Ban Sing Siang Medicine Hall (03-40/41; open: 11am to 8pm daily).

A 20-minute walk from the station is another spot steeped in history: national monument and museum Memories at Old Ford Factory (351 Upper Bukit Timah Road; open: 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday, noon to 5.30pm, Sunday; admission: free for Singaporeans, permanent residents and children under six, $3 otherwise; go to www.nas.gov.sg/moff/.

The interior of museum Memories at Old Ford Factory. ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

Sitting atop a hill, the museum was a former Ford vehicle assembly plant and the site where the British surrendered to the Japanese in 1942. Learn what life was like during the Japanese Occupation at the exhibition gallery and wander behind the museum to see food crops such as sugarcane being grown to show what people ate during the war.

What to eat: This station is located right smack in the Bukit Timah dining enclave.

Land Transport Authority (LTA) project manager Low Yew Huat, 61, has been enjoying the wealth of dining options near his office in Bukit Timah for the past six years.

Black pepper beef fried rice from Al-Azhar Eating Restaurant. ST PHOTO: KENNETH GOH

One of his favourite eateries is Al-Azhar Eating Restaurant (open: 24 hours; tel: 6466-5052) in the supper hotspot, Cheong Chin Nam Road. He likes the black pepper beef fried rice with sambal prawns and fish crackers ($7.50).

Head across the road to Beauty World Food Centre, which is on the fourth floor of Beauty World Centre, for hawker fare. Mr Low recommends Wei Ji Cooked Food (04-39; open: 8am to 3pm daily except Saturday), which serves traditional Teochew porridge (from $2) with up to 30 dishes.

For principal engineering officer Teo Beng Sai, 53, a meal is not complete without a trip to the 40-year-old Beauty World Nian Re Gao (04-54; open: 10am to 8pm, weekday). He stops by for old- school Teochew and Nonya kueh, such as steamed chive rice cakes and kueh salat (from 40 cents a piece).


What to eat: Tucked away in a serene private estate is Hup Choon Eating House in Sian Tuan Avenue, which is a seven-minute walk from the station.

LTA senior project engineer Michael Tom, 27, who was based at this station for 11/2 years, heads to Guan Jing Shao La stall (open: 7am to 3.30pm), which has been selling Chinese-style roast meats for more than 20 years. A must-order is roast pork rice (from $2.50).

Guan Jing Shao La stall's roast pork rice is a must-order. ST PHOTO: KENNETH GOH

He says: "The fat, meat and crackling are well-distributed, the portions are generous and the amount of meat is easily double that at other stalls."

Nearby is Capri Trattoria & Pizzeria (3 Binjai Park; open: noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 10.30pm, daily except Monday; tel: 6468-4886). It focuses on cuisines from different regions in Italy.

Signature dishes include linguine tossed with saffron sauce and served with shelled meat from a Boston lobster ($75++) and fried breaded veal chop ($48++).

Those who need to buy groceries can stop by Ryan's Grocery (29 Binjai Park; open: 9.30am to 8pm daily except Thursday, when it opens from 9.30am to 6pm; tel: 6463-3933) for gourmet products such as gluten-free sausages and condiments such as black truffle salsa and truffle aioli mayonnaise.


Red Dynasty Paintball Park, one of the many lifestyle sports activities available near Sixth Avenue station. PHOTO: RED DYNASTY PAINTBALL PARK

What to do: Nearby Turf Club Road is home to several lifestyle spots that would be especially attractive to sports fans. The closest, a five-minute walk from the station, is Horsecity (100 Turf Club Road), a 10ha development where horses are the main draw. Visitors can visit Gallop Stable (open: 7am to noon, 2 to 7pm daily; tel: 6463-6012) for pony rides or horseriding lessons in the outdoor ranch.

Not into horses? Other facilities in the compound include a fencing school, an indoor simulated driving range and an arts and craft centre.

Farther along the road is The Cage Sports Park (220 Turf Club Road; open: 8am to 11pm daily; tel: 6344-9345), a 90,000 sq m sports enclave equipped with full-sized football fields and an indoor and outdoor cricket pitch. It is also home to a paintball facility run by Red Dynasty Paintball Park (open: 9am to 6pm daily; go to weplaypaintball.com).

Just next door is the family- friendly mall The Grandstand (open: 10am to 10pm daily; go to thegrandstand.com.sg). Shop for fresh and organic produce at farmer's market PasarBella or at the indoor Chillax market for a variety of wares, including home accessories and clothing.

Minced meat noodles from Original Jalan Tua Kong 132. ST PHOTO: KENNETH GOH

What to eat: LTA senior engineering officer Tan Lee Kwee, 36, who has been based at this station for the past six years, frequents Good Good Eating House (24 Sixth Avenue) for lunch. He recommends the minced meat fishball noodles ($4) from Original Jalan Tua Kong 132 stall (open: 6.30am to 5pm daily). "I like the fiery chilli sauce that goes well with the ingredients, such as pork, fishcakes and fishballs, and the springy noodles."

He likes Yi Jia Curry Fish Head (open: 10.30am to 7pm daily) for its selection of dishes, including sambal sotong. He also patronises Indian Curry House (01-03 Sixth Avenue Centre, 805 Bukit Timah Road; tel: 6463-6289), which offers more than 100 North Indian dishes, including tandoori chicken (from $9) and Prawn Mirch Masala ($17.90).


What to eat: The Greenwood Avenue dining cluster is made more accessible with this station.

Besides stalwarts such as Lana Cake Shop and Greenwood Fish Market & Bistro, there are more than 10 restaurants including rotisserie Shelter In The Woods (22 Greenwood Avenue; open: 6.30 to 10pm daily, 11.30am to 2.30pm, Sunday; tel: 6466-6225), which serves rustic European cuisine by its consultant chef Masashi Horiuchi.

Signature dishes include the Rotisserie Suckling Pig (from $35 for three pieces), a herb-infused roasted pig with roast pineapples and onion confit; and the Shelter Charcuterie Board ($37), which includes pork or duck rillettes and foie gras terrine roll seasoned with port wine.

A new addition in the area is Crown Bakery & Cafe (01-03 Crown Centre, 557 Bukit Timah Road, 7.30am to 8pm daily, tel: 6463-3066), which opened in April this year. It injects Asian twists to European-style breads such as Hainanese Chicken Bread ($4.50), which is studded with chicken meat and perfumed with chicken stock, garlic and ginger.

The hearty Crown Breakfast. PHOTO: CROWN BAKERY & CAFE

There is also a brunch menu, which features the Crown Breakfast ($29), crown- shaped puff pastry surrounded by eggs, red wine-braised oxtail, chicken cheese sausage and bacon.


Brew Maison's Dekku Toast. PHOTO: BREW MAISON

What to eat: A recent addition to the limited food options near this station is Brew Maison (01-09B Alocassia Apartments, 383 Bukit Timah Road; open: 7am to 10pm, weekday, 8am to 10pm, weekend).

The 55-seat cafe serves Japanese and Korean cafe food such as Dekku Toast ($7.80, right), which is a breaded chicken patty on toast. Make room for its unusual range of latte drinks, including black sesame flavours (from $4.20).

A well-hidden gem in Stevens Road estate is the 35-year-old Metro-Y Restaurant (Metropolitan YMCA, 60 Stevens Road; open: 7.15am to 9.30pm daily; tel: 6839-8304).

Popular picks from the menu of zi char and Western dishes include Fish Head Curry (from $28.50++), Fish & Chips ($13.50++, both in main picture) and Claypot Chicken Rice ($10.50++).

It also has a value-for-money Teochew Porridge Lunch Buffet ($14.80++; open: noon to 2.30pm, weekday), which has dishes such as braised pork belly and steamed egg with minced pork to pair with white or brown rice porridge. It includes an ice kacang counter.

Metro-Y's head chef Michael Leow (left) and waiter Albert Chiang holding up the eatery's signature fishhead curry and fish & chips. ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

The restaurant is open to the public.


What to do: At the station's doorstep is Lasalle College of the Arts (1 McNally Street, go to www.lasalle.edu.sg).

On top of regular art exhibitions, there are music, dance, theatre and musical theatre shows that are mostly free to the public.

Mark your calendar next January for Spirits Of Cinema, a free outdoor film screening featuring short films by local collective 13 Little Pictures.

A stone's throw away is photography centre Deck (120A Prinsep Street; open: noon to 7pm, Tuesday to Saturday, and noon to 5pm, Sunday; go to deck.sg). Housed within 19 repurposed shipping containers, there are two galleries, a resource library of photography materials and a fully equipped dark room.

Unleash your inner Picasso at nearby cafe-cum-art studio Cups N Canvas (139 Selegie Road; open: 11am to 10pm, Monday to Thursday, 11am to 11pm, Friday, 9am to 11pm, Saturday, and 9am to 10pm, Sunday; tel: 6884-6855).

Sign up for an art jamming session ($50 a person), which provides art materials. Pre-registration is required for the weekend classes led by a professional artist ($60 a person).

Rochor Canal now has a community plaza, rain garden and a wide walkway. ST PHOTO ALICIA CHAN

A five-minute walk towards Bugis lies the cleaned-up Rochor Canal.

Stroll on granite paths that flank a 1.1km stretch recently transformed into a scenic urban promenade, which runs from Jalan Besar to Crawford Street. There are pedestrian bridges, lookout decks and a community plaza - perfect spots for selfies with the colourful HDB blocks at Rochor Centre.

What to eat: This station is in the heart of food enclaves in Bugis and Little India.

A stone's throw from the popular Rochor Original Beancurd shop is the CSL Student Living Hostel at 1A Short Street. It has at least four cafes that have opened in the past four months. These include Eclipse Bingsu & Coffee (01-02; open: 11am to 11pm daily), which serves coffee and Korean cafe fare such as kimchi baked rice ($9.90).

Candy Crepery (01-06; open: 11am to 10pm daily) is a hole-in- the-wall cafe, which offers more than 18 flavours of crepes and waffles, such as banana Nutella and egg and cheese ($5.90 each).

Over at Burlington Square in Bencoolen Street, Hungry Kraken (01-49; open: 11am to 7pm, weekday, 11am to 3pm, Saturday, closed on Sunday; tel: 9452-8593) serves

Hungry Kraken's Waffurger. PHOTO: HUNGRY KRAKEN

"Waffurgers", burgers made with buttermilk biscuits in the shape of waffles instead of buns.

Crowd-pullers include the Waffurger ($5.50), a fried chicken patty served with honey butter sauce and Jibaboom Waffurger ($6), a chicken patty slathered with sambal chilli.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 29, 2015, with the headline Explore the stops on the new Downtown Line 2. Subscribe