A weekend isn’t enough to explore all that Duxton Hill has to offer.
There’s an endless list of things to do. You could browse paperbacks at the indie bookstores in the neighbourhood. You could have brunch at Lucha Loco, which serves up delicious Mexican fare within a picturesque garden bar. Or you could book a staycation at the new Duxton Reserve Hotel, made up of restored heritage shophouses from the 19th century.
In fact, those shophouses are a hallmark of the charming district, which is lined with cobblestone walkways that recall a quaint European town. Instagram-worthy views aside, Duxton Hill stays true to its roots, whether through homegrown restaurants that put a twist on local cuisine, or shops that preserve the island’s past.
Most guides to Duxton Hill will tell you about the best bars and restaurants to check out — and there are plenty — but we sought to list the places that bring something different to the street. A local touch, if you will.
These dining and shopping spots will certainly add to your appreciation of a neighbourhood as steeped in heritage as Duxton Hill is. Discover them below.
Retrophonic Records is located right above Merchants Wine Store on Duxton Road, which is worth popping by if you’re in the market for Australian boutique wine. But music lovers should carry on to the independent record shop, where they’ll find all manner of vinyls — rock, jazz, indie, pop and more — as well as the turntables, amplifiers and speakers to play them on. The range of equipment alone is enough to set Retrophonic Records apart from other stores here, but what we really dig is its selection of vintage Mandopop and Cantopop records that soundtracked Singapore’s past.
(Photo credit: Retrophonic Records)
Maison 21G is on our list of the best perfume brands in Singapore for a reason. Its Duxton Hill flagship presents a hands-on approach to creating your very own scent. You can do so from one of its expert-led bespoke perfume workshops, which include options for couples and families. While the art of haute perfumery is very French — Maison 21G is a Parisian brand, after all — the experience you’ll get at the flagship store is a distinctively local one. That’s because it’s located in one of the beautiful, restored shophouses that you can only spot on Duxton Hill.
(Photo credit: Maison 21G)
There are not many places in the world where you can get a glass of champagne to go with your hotdog, but that’s just one of the many quirks of Fung Kee Hotdogs. Like its name suggests, the diner has some of the best hotdogs in Singapore (vegan options included). They also come with a Scandinaivian touch, such as the homemade Danish Rémoulade sauce that blends curry mayonnaise with pickles, or a side dish of pork cracklings known as “Flæskesvær”. Be sure to wash down their hearty servings with Fung Kee’s signature negroni.
(Photo credit: Fung Kee Hotdogs)
Maxwell Food Centre is not quite Duxton Hill territory, but it’s near enough for you to pay a visit. And you should: it offers the bustling hawker centre experience so integral to our culinary history, something that’s easily taken for granted in a city populated by fancy restaurants and rooftop bars. At Maxwell Food Centre, you’ll be spoiled with all the flavours of Singapore, from the homely Peranakan favourites at Old Nonya to the quintessential Malay dishes whipped up at Green Leaf. And let’s not forget the most Singaporean dish of all: chicken rice, served up with Michelin Guide-worthy perfection at the Tian Tian Chicken Rice stall.
(Photo credit: Getty Images)
Xiao Ya Tou is yet another dining establishment that you would only find in Singapore. It’s a mod-Asian restaurant that puts an eyebrow-raising spin on local favourites (think truffle roast duck fried rice and chilli crab omelette), which will surprise and satisfy your taste buds in equal measure. (And don’t worry, there’s a vegetarian menu too.) That same rebellious approach applies to the drinks served over at the bar, which includes colourful concoctions like vodka Milo Dinosaur and Yakult mixed with sake.
(Photo credit: Xiao Ya Tou)
Kitchen Kumars is a fairly new restaurant — it opened its doors in 2018 — but it’s already making waves on Duxton Hill. That’s because it boasts some of the most exciting (and authentic) Indian fusion dishes in Singapore. We’re talking naan-based tacos, masala fries, chicken tikka pizza and more. If that doesn’t leave your mouth watering, maybe Kitchen Kumars’ creative cocktails will. Some of the drinks to look out for are Kumar’s Love for Lassi, a delicious, alcoholic take on lassi, as well as the Spicy Mango Mojito.
(Photo credit: Kitchen Kumars)