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Image: The Bread Table

When cafe owner Chara Lum was scouting for a location to start Ciel Patisserie two years ago, a void deck shop unit in Hougang Avenue 1 ticked all the right boxes.

The 25-year-old, who sells French-style cakes and pastries, says: “As I did not have much experience, I was looking for a test-bed location. The rental rates here were about four times lower than those in town and there was no competition in the area.”

Fast forward two years and the dining scene in the Kovan area has changed a great deal.

It is now buzzing with more than 10 cafes, bakeries and restaurants within a 15-minute walk from Kovan MRT station. Here are five that caught our eye:


What: This 45-seat cafe serves all-day brunch made with halal-certified ingredients, such as pancakes drizzled with salted caramel sauce and bananas ($11) and Machamp’s Breakfast ($18), with onion marmalade toast, scrambled eggs and caramel-glazed chicken bratwurst.

Where: Block 121 Hougang Avenue 1, 01-1348

Open: 11am to 9pm daily, except Tuesday

Info: Call 6286-0051 or go to


What: This two-month-old casual Korea eatery serves 30 barbecue dishes and stir-fried ones. Offerings include stir-fried spicy chicken ribs and spicy roasted pork and squid (both $15 per person).

Where: Paya Lebar Kovan Community Club, 207 Hougang Street 21, level 1

Open: 3 to 11pm daily

Info: Call 6288-6651 or go to


What: This artisan bakery offers more than 10 breads such as cinnamon walnut raisin bread ($3.90) and sourdough ($8.90) in cheese, walnut, olives and plain flavours. It also sells sandwiches such as Eggs Benedict Sourdough ($15) and pizzas such as BBQ chicken and Meat Lover (both $6.50).

Where: 1010 Upper Serangoon Road

Open: 10am to 10pm, Tuesday to Friday; 8.30am to 10pm on weekends, closed on Monday

Info: Call 6282-3546 or go to


What: This blink-and-you-miss-it takeaway booth sells about 20 kinds of cakes in 90ml and 200ml jars. Flavours include Oreo ($6.50), durian ($6.90) and Baileys tiramisu ($7.90).

Where: Heartland Mall, Level 2

Open: 11am to 9.30pm daily

Info: Call 9696-6215 or go to


What: Dig into its signature lechon, Filipino-style suckling pig (from $10) which is infused with lemongrass and roasted for four hours. The pig is usually ready at 5.30pm. It also sells pork belly and roast chicken (both from $6).

Where: 973 Upper Serangoon Road

Open: 12.30 to 9.30pm (Tuesday to Sunday), closed on Monday

Info: Call 6728-0765 or 9326-2920 or visit

 This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on January 11, 2015. For similar stories, go to You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.