Diamonds in the rough

by Laetitia Wong 


Singapore ain’t no London, that’s for sure. With our diamond in the rough evolution hasn’t always been a promising one, with most of our country’s crème de la crème having been rigorously renovated, investigated and blogged about, along with our Insta-envy youths (and aunties, you’d be surprised) turning what’s left of our off-the-beaten-track treasures into an ugly filtering, snapping, cropping carbuncle. (Café lattes look best with VSCO Cam’s B5 filter. I’m just saying.)


To tell you the truth, you could spend every day trying to hunt down new places, and still not manage to experience anything worthwhile without ruining your hand-knitted Lowry Farm jumper with a glorious display of pit stains.

Sure, we all have our inner aspirant Alexa Chung, where we dress up in our dusky socks and heels attempting the classic ‘Alice’ moment of teetering around the central heartlands, armed with your handy-dandy iPhone and your self-snapped pictures of your ‘Singaporean voyages’, hoping to stumble upon a hidden gem of some kind.

A fair whack of your journey, which was probably dedicated to shambling off down this deserted corridor, opening a door and falling into Wonderland, somewhat like a savvy character out of a Murukami book, often ends up with your perfectly deployed outfitting prowess in a chaotic disarray.


It’s just like Cinderella, but in reverse.

As if all the mugginess of living along the equatorial border somehow flew into a tantrum and ended up attacking your eyeliner. With sweat in places you didn’t know could yield such unsightly sweat stains, and a face caked with melted warpaint that was seemingly borrowed from Heath Ledger’s reinterpretation of the Joker, it’s basically the opposite of chic, to put it mildly. “Mom, could you pick me up now?”


Without adding insult to injury, here’s a compilation of some of the secrets our little red dot has to offer, as compared to the multitude of Singapore’s other glittery establishments. That goes without saying, these gems won’t stay secret for very long – So take a breather, grab your mom, and get these on your to-do list!


1. Ice Edge Cafe

Initially failing to impress with their simple interior, as compared to their artsy café competitor (Lola’s Cafe) down the street, Ice Edge Cafe is definitely an oasis of calm and quiet, and only a 5-minute walk from Kovan MRT.



The Ice Edge Cafe is located at 2 Kovan Road.


2. The Animal Resort

Yes, we never knew that there were animals outside the usual Night Safari or Singapore Zoo either. The Animal Resort is perfect for folks with little tots looking for an interesting way to spend the weekend. The space is open to the public for free, boasting an array of adorable rabbits, guinea pigs, parrots, peacocks, and other small animals. 



The Animal Resort is located at T81 Seletar West Farmway.


3. Noorlin Seafood

Dining out in Singapore is never cheap – A plate of rice and a few dishes will usually set you back about S$8. Hooray for Noorlin Seafood, for their Nasi Ambeng is our top pick for both affordability and delectability.



Noorlin Seafood is located at Jurong West Street 41, Blk 494 at the Ting & Ting Food Court.


4. To-gather Café

Step away from the hustle and bustle of Singapore’s city life and embrace our local heartland gems. One of the loveliest cafés in the East, the To-gather Café is housed with a rustic-inspired theme, inviting slow saunters and leisure diners to dine.



The To-gather café is located at 84 Bedok North Street 4, #01-25.


5. GOHD Books

Located on the first level of Burlington Square, its a small under-appreciated bookstore that not only offers antique out-of-print first editions, but also offers Greek, Classical Chinese and Latin courses for the truly curious.



GOHD Books is located at 175 Bencoolen Street, #01-37.


6. IScream

The avocado ice-cream practically screams TRY-ME, it’s unconventional flavour wrapped up in a creamy exterior. Other must-try unique home-grown flavours include the liqueur-infused Drunk Grapes, tangy Chempedak and the super fruit Yuzu. Cosy, tranquil an surprisingly quiet, we East-landers love that IScream opens till 12am daily, making for a more than perfect midnight sweet treat.



iScream is located at Bedok North Ave 4, Blk 89 #01-109 


7. La Maison Bio

La Maison Bio is a pay-as-you-go spa located on the top level of the 3-storey shophouse, tucked away in snug Bugis Cube. They only accommodate 3 clients at a time to offer the ultimate escape, offering an array of add-on services such as foot and hand spas, as well as a full body mask at a mere S$10 per service.



La Maison Bio is located at Bugis Cube, #05-05

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