Holland Village Market and Food Centre

Wondering where to go for a beer on your first night in Singapore? This blog will (not really) answer that question. 

In March 2020, Ellie and I moved to Singapore and – on our first night back staying in a hotel next to Buona Vista MRT – went first to Holland Village Hawker Centre. We had lived in the area from 2015-16 and so I suppose that te were there to reconnect with the relative youth of our mid-twenties.

Isn’t it funny the things that change? The new durian shop, the Thai kway chap restaurant, the redesign of the kopitiam opposite the Hawker. Then there are the familiar, forgotten things: the newspaper stand on the corner, the shoe-fixers sitting on stools beneath golf umbrellas, the Tiger beer mugs painted black at the base.

What about the people? The round-faced boss of the fried noodle stall, the old couple running the drinks stand. On the night we visited, the regulars – there since at least 2015 – were still playing music on bluetooth speakers at an off-putting volume. At one point struggling to hear each other over the Hall and Oates playlist, Ellie and I had moved tables and found ourselves next to a group of whisky-drinking lads.

‘Having sex is like going for a run,’ one of them said. Then, ‘No,’ he corrected himself, ‘Going for a run is like having sex.’

We sat on the outer ring of the hawker centre underneath the fans. I was facing the road and so was able to watch the pedigree dogs and the Singaporean mongrels out for an evening walk. Holland Village – or at least the drinking area – has the atmosphere of a Mediterranean tourist town. The road is closed off to traffic in the evenings and so the bars and restaurants spill out onto the street.

There are a host of other drinking options here – bars, restaurants, pubs, izakayas – but those are for another time. On our first night back, we shared three bottles of Tiger from an ice bucket at $17.50. It was comforting, familiar, and inexpensive.

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