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(1) The Mini Countryman outside a shophouse in Geylang.

(2) Sean Kee braised duck rice.

(3) Geylang Claypot Rice.

(4) Haig Road Market & Food Centre.

(5) Putu piring.

Indulge in Geylang

Exploring food and culture in a colourful district.
Aug 26, 2017 5:50 AM

This year's durian season is coming to an end, but don't let that stop you from heading to Geylang for its famous dining 'lorongs' that alternate with the area's more infamous nightlife. The stretch of Geylang Road that runs between Joo Chiat and Kallang is especially thick with eateries that serve up decades of culinary history, and has all you need for a fulfilling food trail. Just pack some hungry people into your MINI Countryman, and you're good to go.

A good place to start is the ever-popular Geylang Claypot Rice on the corner of Lorong 33, which is often packed with diners hankering for a pot of their charred rice with chicken, Chinese sausages, and salted fish. This eatery has been around for over 30 years - even the staff can't remember when it opened exactly - and is known for cooking its claypots to order, so that means a half-hour wait if you don't call to book in advance.

Just a few shophouses down, on the corner of Lorong 35, is another famous eatery - Sin Huat Eating House. It's well-known for its crab bee hoon stall (Fun fact: it was listed as one of the "13 places to eat before you die" by Anthony Bourdain) and even crabbier cook Danny, but also draws a crowd for Sean Kee Boneless Duck Rice - a stall run by three brothers who took over their father's business in 1979.

If at some point you need a break from the food, Geylang is not short of cultural sights too. It is commonly known as the country's red light district, but is also home to historical landmarks like Singapore's oldest Chinese temple - according to the Singapore Book of Records. Known as Soon Thian Kheng LTD, this temple at 19 Lorong 29 was established some time during the reign of the Qing Dynasty's Emperor Jiaqing (1796 - 1821) when it was first located at Malabar Street.

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Other notable structures in Geylang are the double storey terrace houses on Lorong 34 which were built between early 1900s and the start of World War II; the two rows of 1920s terrace shophouses at Lorong 24A; and the former Queen's Theatre at 511 Guillemard Road which opened in the early-1930s.

At the east end of Geylang is the Haig Road Market and Food Centre, where a number of reputable old businesses are located. For instance, there's Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring which was established in 1985, and is so popular that it has five people manning its small hawker stall on a weekday afternoon, in addition to running a second outlet at a nearby food court. Also in the vicinity are Afandi Hawa & Family which is known for its mee rebus, Warong Sudi Mampir which sells satay, and Rosy & Nora which specialises in roti john.

Of course, these eateries are not all the food trail-worthy candidates Geylang has to offer - think frog porridge, or the cendol at Geylang Serai Market, for example. There's a lot more to be explored, but that's what a food trail is all about.

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