HEALTHY CITY GUIDE: Singapore
Even though I’ve spent 5 years of my life living in Singapore, and go back every holiday to see my parents, I still have somehow never posted a Healthy City Guide to this amazing city. I’ll be honest and say that it’s probs cuz when I lived there at 16 I was more in a position to write a Guide to Best Ladies Night Clubs rather than where to get the best green juice, but over the past few years I’ve tried out many of the new healthy spots in the city and I have to say, the wellness scene there is definitely a whole lot less lame than I thought.
In Singapore there are 3 main things to do: eat, drink and shop. By eat, most mean either in world-renown high-class restaurants run by Michelin-star chefs or at delicious, ridiculously cheap local food stalls. No one means lavish salads and wholesome brunch food. And by drink, most mean either Singapore Slings at one of the city’s many rooftop bars or local beer in a Korean Karaoke Pub. No one means green juices and kombucha. But I have to say, although the health and wellness scene is only just starting off in Singapore, it’s definitely there, and many brave souls have tapped into the health trend and opened businesses that now make it easy for anyone visiting this massively modern city to eat well and keep active (between Fried Rice dinners and nights out at Clarke Quay of course).
Healthy Eating in Singapore
A Poke Theory
27 Boon Tat Street
In the classic happening area of Telok Ayer, you can find this little hidden gem of a spot. A Poke Theory specializes in Poke Bowls (pretty lucky of that considering the name), where by picking your base, protein, veggie, fruit and dressing you can make your very own Hawaiian style bowl full of only healthful, fresh, ingredients.
If ever you’re feeling like a little treat after (let me answer that one for you straight up: yes, yes you are), then their Superfood Smoothie Bowls are an absolute must-try. Made of simply soy milk and banana, these babies are topped with raw choc sauce, fruit, nuts… basically everything and anything you could ever dream of having on your smoothie bowl; they’ve got you covered.
The Living Cafe
779 Bukit Timah Rd
This gorgeous restaurant in the Bukit Timah area does not only provide the perfect working space, but also serves amazingly healthy dishes. Everything is dairy-free with tons and tons of vegan, gluten-free and raw food options as well. The Nori Rolls weren’t necessarily anything out-of-this-world but the taco boats were light and fresh while being so perfectly satisfying. Make sure you save room for one of their raw treats (lol who are we kidding there’s always room for dessert). Only downfall is that you’ll probably spend an hour or so in front of their super extensive raw treat fridge debating what to get.
181 Orchard Road, #02-16 Orchard Central,
If you’re looking for the perfect, healthy, comfortable lunch spot in the main Shopping area of Singapore (Orchard Road), Real Food’s gotchu. With a simple yet super varied menu of all organic, vegetarian dishes ranging from Stuffed Veggie Salads to Portobello Burgers and Stir-Fried Brown Rice Vermicelli to Vegan Pizza; you’re guaranteed to find something that fits your fancy. Dive into their all-day Breakfast menu (5 extra point for serving breakie all day long) and try the vegan pumpkin pancakes or keep it light with their Classic Green Salad with extra roasted veggies or mushrooms. One thing worth noting is that you should not be in a rush when going to Real Food. They tend to be quite busy at lunch hours and the staff hasn’t really gotten the full service flow of rush-hours down pat yet. Be prepared to wait a while, but if you’re in good company, the restaurant is beautifully spacious, bright and comfortable to chill for a few minutes (or 30) while you wait for your meal. You’re probably over waiting by the time your done your food, so just grab your dessert to-go at the store section where they sell tons of raw chocolate tablets and organic fruit-and-nut bars.
Centre Point 01-104,
As I said before, Singapore is only just starting to jump on board the health train. And although you can find cold-pressed juices at most of the healthy restaurants mentioned above, the concept of a “Juice Bar” is pretty alien to them. I did manage however to stumble across HIC Juice in Central Singapore. Although they don’t actually make the juices right in front of you, they’re all cold-pressed, organic, non-pasturised etc. so clearly they kinda know what they’re doing. I just grabbed a juice to-go, but they do make acai bowls on location if you’re looking for something a little heartier. They had a large variety of different juice options including one with just veg which is always a win, and not always a given at even the best juice bars.
Grounded by CMRC
22 Martin Road, Level 2,
Right above a classic brunch spot near Robertson Quay is a gorgeous cafe called Grounded. The space is shared with one of the many Movement Yoga studios, so clearly on top of a gorgeous layout and healthy snacks, the atmosphere is zen AF. This cafe is the perfect place for a mid-afternoon coffee date with a friend, to chill with a tea and magazine after yoga class, or even to bring along your laptop, sit in the comfy couches or at the communal table and power through a full day of work (10 bonus points for having free wifi and power-sockets). They serve great coffee (not to mention it’s one of the only place in Singapore with an almond milk option), have a full fridge full of healthy goodies (bliss balls, beetroot brownies, chia puddings etc.), but you can also chose from their kitchen menu for a heartier salad, burger or toasts.
28 Stanley Street,
When I heard of a fully organic, health-food restaurant located (yet again) in the trendy area of Telok Ayer, I had to go check it out. My brother and I went for their new Saturday Brunch special, which they’ve only just started doing recently. At first glance the menu is enough to make you drool (buckwheat porridge topped with homemade cashew butter, vegan coconut pancakes, healthified eggs benny topped on roasted sweet potato…), but then probably followed by a cringe when you notice the price next to each dish. This place is definitely on the pricier side, but I guess you can’t expect less from a fully organic restaurant. Anthony and I each got one of their poached egg dishes and shared the coconut pancakes. Everything was delicious but considered the rather light portion sizes and not-so-light bill total, I would definitely keep this as “special occasion” kinda spot.
Nope that isn’t the name of a restaurant, I mean literally, you should definitely try some local food when in Singapore, and you can actually make it healthy as well. Head over to Little India and have dinner at any of the small restaurants (the less foreigners usually the better). Here you can order lots of different kinds of veggie curry and daal, and even ditch the naan for some jasmine rice for a lighter, less carb-heavy and more nutritious alternative. Even though a lot of the local Chinese food is quite greasy and doused in MSG, you can always find some “cleaner” options. Try some of the local veggies (such as Kai Lang, Bok Choy etc.) and ask for steamed not fried. To add some substance to your meal, ask for plain steamed rice on the side, and add your own chilli and soy sauce to your liking.
Working Out in Singapore
Eat, Train, Love
44 Blair Road
While in Singapore I had the chance to meet the lovely Cheryl, owner and founder of Eat, Train, Love; an all encompassing wellness company running all kinds of workout classes (from Ballet Barre to Outdoor Bootcamps), nutrition workshops and cooking classes. Since the concept is a no-lock-in-contract, pay-as-you-go kinda deal, you’re free to join any class, whenever you fancy. It’s perfect for all those that don’t like feeling trapped or strapped to a single gym (like hello I’m 21, I ain’t ready for that kind of commitment) or those visiting Singapore that want to do a few classes to avoid literally rollin off the plane post-holidays looking like a dumpling in human form. I tried the Ballet Barre class with Cheryl as well as a bootcamp class with one of her trainers Lucy. Both were super different and unique and I cannot recommend either of them enough!
134B Telok Ayer St
When Stef was visiting me in Singapore, we stumbled across this gorgeous yoga studio. We immediately signed up for a session the next day, slightly concerned at how the hell we were going to manage an “advanced inversions” class. I have to say however that it was probably one of the most different, varied, challenging yet satisfying yoga classes I had ever done. We left the studio telling ourselves “damn we should do more advanced classes”. Not because we killed it (lol far from), but because we really realized the value of pushing ourselves completely out of our comfort zones and that classic saying “If it doesn’t challenge, you it doesn’t change you” well, maybe there’s really some truth to that as well. It also definitely helps when everyone at the studio is friendly as hell and doesn’t make you feel bad for face planting… several times
Holiday’s at my parents place are spent mostly in the gym, cooking or food shopping, but we do usually manage to squeeze an afternoon of biking in there. One of the best routes is along East Coast where you can usually do a full 23km ride along the water front. Unfortunately there is construction going on atm so our bike ride along the waterfront rapidly turned into us dodging cranes and beast trucks with a view on some sand dunes, but fear not, if Singapore knows anything, they know efficiency, and by the time I’m typing this, the route is probably back to gold again (but maybe get informed first). Regardless, it’s a nice afternoon to spend outdoors, and considering how cheap it is to rent a bike (3$/hr), even if you just do a 40 minute tour around the East Coast Park, it’s totally worth it. End you bike ride with a visit to the East Coast Seafood Hawker centre, where you can grab fresh cold coconuts, some veggie fried rice if you’re hungry, and even try the traditional local chilli crab dish if you’re feeling adventurous.
Many envision Singapore as another big concrete jungle city. To some extent, it is the case, but I’d put strong emphasis on the jungle part. In the end, Singapore is a city in the tropics, there are huge high rises and busy street yes, but what you’d notice even more when visiting Singapore is how damn green it is. Since it’s so incredibly humid and torrential downpours are a daily occurrence, huge tropical trees, bushes and flowers grow absolutely everywhere. Wherever there is a small concrete-less gap, you can be sure a mammoth sub-saharan-african looking tree has claimed the space. Even right near the centre of this city state you can find gorgeous running and walking trails full of monkeys, impressive flora and colourful birds. Go for a walk or jog around the McRitchie Reservoir for a longer hike, or do the quick trail around the Southern Ridges for an impressively contrasting view of tall sky rises juxtaposed with tropical forestry.