Let's Go Jalan Jalan: Rediscovering Ang Mo Kio
STORY: Ng Kai
13 January 2021
Our vibrant island city just got more rad.
If you haven't already jumped on the "rediscover Singapore" bandwagon (now very "in" to explore our own backyard; or rather, no choice), get ready to jalan jalan in various neighbourhoods around Singapore and explore little-known secrets hand-picked and recommended by the 'hood residents themselves.
We're talking about JalanJalan.me, a community project spearheaded by the people behind the #savefnbsg movement, and supported by Enterprise Singapore and Singapore Tourism Board, to show Singaporeans what to see, eat, shop and do in our beloved towns.
The cool 'hood that we're throwing the spotlight on this week: And Mo Kio. Just remember, “When in Ang Mo Kio (AMK), do as the AMKsians do”.
1. A pair of proud Merlion statues
AMK’s Merlion statues might not spout water or be tourist-bait, but they sure have plenty of history. Commissioned by the Ang Mo Kio Residential Committee in 1998, they guard the entrance to the car park of blocks 216 to 222.
Fun fact: These rebellious heartlanders almost got taken down as they infringed on the copyright and intellectual property owned by the Singapore Tourism Board. Luckily, the relevant governing bodies worked things out, and the statues ultimately got approved to continue keeping watch over the community.
Located at: 218, Ang Mo Kio, Ave 1, Singapore 560218 (map)
2. A full-sized dragon
No, not a medieval fire-breathing dragon. The famous dragon playground in Toa Payoh has a lesser-known sibling in Ang Mo Kio. Designed by Khor Ean Ghee from the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in 1979, this location sports a gentle brown beast that boasts a striking blue border and a yellow steel-ringed body that is situated closer to the ground.
Fun fact: Even though the original sandpit was replaced by rubber padding in the 1990s to better cushion a fall, the two slides remain in their original tiled form. There used to be five other dragon playgrounds all over Singapore, but this is one of the only two full-sized ones still standing today.
Located at: 570, Ang Mo Kio, Ave 3, Singapore 560570 (map)
3. A sing-song with birds
You’ll hear them before you see them. The cacophony made by these feathered friends at the Kebun Bahru Birdsinging Club is something to experience. Many uncles bring their beloved birds here to train for singing competitions, and while there are several bird-singing corners in Singapore, this is the one that the best songstresses allegedly go to.
Fun fact: For the most dramatic sight, come on a Sunday morning. You’ll see rows and rows of bird cages hooked onto metal beams, neatly sorted by species, with even more cages strung up on colourful poles on the field beside it.
Located at: 159, Ang Mo Kio, Ave 5, Singapore 560159 (map)
4. AMK’s own Botanic Gardens
Spread out over a 22-hectare hill, AMK Town Garden West feels like a mini Botanic Gardens, minus the crowds. The lotus pond used to be a key attraction for photography enthusiasts but the residents share that it has been packed in recent years. That said, there are still plenty of scenic spots for spreading out a picnic mat, strolling through the forested area to admire flowering trees, or letting the kids have a field day at the adventure playground.
Fun fact: The most iconic feature here is the pair of 120-step staircases, which are majestically lined with palm trees, and make for a great spot for Instagrammers and fitness aficionados alike.
Located at: Opposite Ang Mo Kio Town Library, Ang Mo Kio Ave 6, Singapore 567740 (map)
1. Handmade goodness that run out by noon
The pillowy soft min jiang kueh at Belinda's Pancake comes with either peanut, coconut, or red bean filling. For something lighter, a crisp, cone-shaped version is also available with a variety of toppings. However, the putu mayam is the real hawker gem. This delightful noodle cake is steamed and served with fresh coconut flakes and orange palm sugar. Just make sure you go before noon, or risk everything being sold out.
Fun fact: The puyu mayam is an old-school snack with South Indian origins; it is not so commonly found in Singapore as the tedious process of swirling vermicelli by hand is simply not practised anymore.
Located at: 341, Ang Mo Kio, Ave 1, #01-27 Teck Ghee Court, Singapore 560341 (map)
2. Loklok, who’s there?
Missing street food from across the Causeway? Swing by Loklok 1991’s by Daniel & Meng; this supper spot opens until 2am, and get your fill of Johor Bahru-style loklok – steamboat goodies served on skewers. There is a relatively wide variety of food items to choose from here, including broccoli, mantou, breaded scallops, bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms, and abalone slices. Once you take your pick, the team will then deep fry it for you.
Fun fact: For an added kick, you can ask to add chilli powder, spicy seaweed, mala, or condensed milk (for the mantou). Be prepared to jostle though - with each stick costing just $1, this is a well-known supper spot in the 'hood.
Located at: 340, Ang Mo Kio, Ave 1, Singapore 560340 (map)
3. Mock chicken rice that tastes just as good
Craving a fragrant plate of chicken rice without the sinfulness? Well, you can chow down on a version cooked by chicken-rice-turned-vegetarian stall, 33 Vegetarian Food. On the menu are western-style items such as “chicken” burger and nuggets, but the star here is the Healthy Chicken Rice Set: an impressive replica of the real deal in terms of how it looks. Artfully plated in geometric porcelain dishes, the set comes with mock chicken slices, a mound of fluffy rice, homemade sauces and dips, blanched greens, and a comforting bowl of soup.
Fun fact: While the “roast chicken” is made with fried beancurd skin, we're certain much effort must have been put to create a mock version of steamed chicken – complete with silky “skin”. Regulars also give their fragrant rice and chilli sauce two thumbs up.
Located at: 409, Ang Mo Kio, Ave 10, #01-33, Teck Ghee Square Food Centre, Singapore 560409 (map)
4. A slice of heaven
Pine Garden has been delivering decadent slices of comfort for more than three decades. This neighbourhood boutique is best known for its variety of local sweet treats, including the pulut hitam cake, pomelo sago cake, and White Rabbit candy cake. Other popular items include the lychee martini and coffee whisky caramel cakes, and it’s also the go-to place in the area for festive goodies like mooncakes and log cakes.
Fun fact: For brides-to-be looking for something rustic and classy, Pine Garden also accepts commissions for tiered wedding cakes.
Located at: 529, Ang Mo Kio, Ave 10, #01-2369/2329, Singapore 560529 (map)
1. Arts n crafts galore
For those obsessed with crafting, going into Elsie’s Departmental Store will make you feel like a kid in a candy shop. It is chock-full of yarn, ribbons, and beads of every size, shape, and colour - we could spend hours browsing through the vast collection of goodies available here. Pop over to stock up on your stash of materials, or pick up a new hobby.
Fun fact: Founded by the eponymous Elsie Lim, the store has been around for over 30 years. It began as a clothes-making boutique, but eventually turned into a crafts supply shop where customers can also go to learn skills like cross-stitching and basket weaving.
Located at: 709, Ang Mo Kio, Ave 8, #01-2607, Singapore 560706 (map)
2. Antiques and furniture TLC
This family-run furniture shop, which has a history that stretches back to 1969, is a definite gem. Hor Cane Furniture’s pieces have been living in homes and restaurants around the world for decades. While the company specialises in rattan and cane – which used to be processed by hand before a factory was built for that purpose – Mr Eric Hor and his team also work with other materials, and they are especially proud of their sturdy bar counters.
Fun fact: Aside from accepting commissions for new furniture, they can also help with refinishing and repairing pre-loved ones. Next time your antique dining table needs some TLC, you know where to go!
Located at: 4002, Ang Mo Kio, Industrial Park 1, Singapore 569623 (map)
3. Aesthetic zero waste items
In school, we’re taught the three R’s – reduce, reuse, and recycle – yet when we grow up, it can be challenging to fully embody the zero-waste lifestyle. Florence Tay and Jeff Lam wanted to make the transition a little easier, more affordable, and without sacrificing quality or aesthetics. That’s why they established UnPackt in a sunny unit in AMK in 2018 as the first zero-waste store in Singapore. It’s never too late to start being kinder to our planet, and this is a great little place to take your first steps.
Fun fact: Just bring your own containers and buy as much or as little pasta, spices, and other produce as you need. You’ll also find reusable straws, food containers, and other eco-friendly lifestyle accessories here.
Located at: 6, Jalan Kuras, Singapore 577724 (map)
4. Cool and funky goodies
Boo! by A Han Bakes is a retail outlet that stocks a range of novelty items, including vinyl stickers from Fawn, and earrings from The Gingery Co. You can also grab baked goodness from A Han Bakes including August Han’s famed brownies, cupcakes and tarts. Dessert and retail therapy all in one place, swee lah!
Fun fact: A Han Bakes was borne out of August's love for baking, and her dream of helping people celebrate joyous life events with delicious surprises. She relocated the bakery from Serangoon Gardens to Ang Mo Kio in 2017, and decided to expand the concept to incorporate retail.
Located at: 151, Ang Mo Kio, Ave 5, #01-3038, Singapore 560151 (map)
1. A place to drink and spill the tea
The name of this tea shop is actually a play on three Chinese characters. ANNAGEE’s pronunciation is similar to “energy”, and means "serenely and safely offering energy". The guiding principle behind the brand is to elevate the simple pleasures of life through a good cuppa, and as such the tea leaves sold here all hail from some of the finest estates in China. The three varieties available include pu’erh, tieguanyin, and da hong pao.
Fun fact: For something more experiential, book a session at the atelier with co-founder and tea master Vivian Ng. She makes for a delightful host and loves sharing her knowledge about brewing methods, tips around mindful living, and stories behind the leaves with tea lovers.
Located at: Horizon Gardens, 499 Ang Mo Kio Ave 2, Singapore 567905 (map)
For a full list of things to see, eat, shop and do in Ang Mo Kio, check out JalanJalan.me.