Secret spaces: Anita Kapoor shows us her favourite haunts in Singapore

Secret spaces: Anita Kapoor shows us her favourite haunts in Singapore

It's all good in this hood

Text: Adibah Isa

Video: Justin Chen
Image: Vanessa Caitlin,
The Refinery

Secret Spaces looks at off the radar, up-and-coming or pre-loved neighbourhoods in our cosmopolitan city. Follow Friend of Buro Anita Kapoor as she takes us through Jalan Besar and King George's Avenue.

As most April afternoons go, the weather wasn't the most forgiving. After being out in the mid-day scorcher, the Buro crew sought the comforts of some much-needed AC relief in Windowsill Pies, a café frequented by our resident girl crush Anita Kapoor. It's one of her favourite joints in the Jalan Besar neighbourhood, one that's slowly in the midst of gentrification — though not quite yet.

The café sits along a row of enterprises that date back decades, passing through the hands of generations before settling on a tired couple who's seen the neighbourhood's better days — in terms of traditional craftsmanship at least. Henry Yee and Nora Yap head Hup Yick Engineering, their family's metal machining shop. Unfortunately, the shadow of their impending retirement hangs above, with none of their daughters keen on continuing their craft. They're not all met with neglect, though. Often frequented by students and curious tourists who roam the hood, the duo has been featured in local publications and collaborated with overseas designers.

Meanwhile, another cuppa brews along a row of shophouses on King George's Avenue, this time at AEIOU — and we almost trip over construction works around sidewalks to get there. Just opened a few months ago, the cafe's a repository of the best of 80's and 90's childhoods, with old toys perched atop antique cupboards. The entire place, with its high ceilings, mismatched furnishings and mosaic-inspired colours screams old school, without bordering on kitsch.

Anita then takes us down the street to The Refinery, where the guys from the kitchen are preparing Salmon Carpaccio, a dish that's gone for a Japanese edge with a dressing of radish, bonito, yuzu sesame and lime. Apart from housing a yakitori restaurant, the sprawling three-in-one joint is also home to a cocktail bar and craft workshop, and holds events such as Eats and Beats which bring food and music together.

Watch the video below to find out more on what Anita has to say about this eclectic neighbourhood.

Anita's picks:

AEIOU Café, 111 King George's Avenue. Tel: 6291 2698 

Hup Yick Engineering Works, 84 Horne Road. Tel: 6298 8092 

The Refinery, 115 King George's Avenue. Tel: 6293 1204

Windowsill Pies, 78 Horne Road. Tel: 9004 7827