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A ceramicist works on the wheel at Mud Rock Ceramics.
NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE

A guide to local favorites in Little India

A ceramicist works on the wheel at Mud Rock Ceramics.
  • By Shibani Mahtani
  • Photos by Ore Huiying
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Little India
Singapore
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Among the vestiges of British colonial rule in Singapore are its ethnic enclaves, of which Little India is the most demographically colorful. It’s the spot where South Asian migrant workers — the backbone of the construction force here, yet an overlooked population — bump up against Western backpackers and locals across ethnic groups doing their marketing and shopping. The area comes to life during the Diwali Festival of Lights, usually in October or November, and is particularly crowded on Sundays, when migrant workers get their single day off.

Meet Shibani Mahtani

Shibani Mahtani is the Southeast Asia correspondent for The Washington Post, covering countries that include the Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia. She joined The Post's foreign desk in 2018 after seven years as a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in Southeast Asia and later in Chicago, where she covered the Midwest.

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mail-solidEmail shibani.mahtani@washpost.com
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Little India

Tekka Center
Take in the sights, sounds and smells of a local Singapore market here. Home to cattle slaughterhouses until the 1920s, the complex now houses a “wet” market — where you can buy fish, meat, vegetables and fruit — as well as shops that sell souvenirs, Indian bangles, saris and trinkets. Watch how the locals pick their meat and fruit; it’s a totally different grocery experience than you’ll find in the West.
665 Buffalo Rd., Singapore 210665
Mustafa Center
This 24-hour megastore, in the heart of Little India, is a must. You can find everything here: electronics, Ayurvedic products, nail art, gold, even wigs. It’s an overwhelming experience, but it’s a lot of fun.
145 Syed Alwi Rd., Singapore 207704
Onlewo
Owner Mike Tay has created something truly special here, turning gorgeous textiles into scarves, cushion covers, shirts and notebooks. Inspired by Singapore’s heritage, architecture and ethnically rich neighborhoods, it’s an ideal place to pick up a really special souvenir from your trip.
129 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208847
Mud Rock Ceramics
This ceramic studio run by two Singaporean women holds workshops for beginners and those who have some experience in molding clay. If you take home some of their ceramics, you’ll be in good company: They supply some of the city’s best restaurants and galleries.
85 Maude Rd., Singapore 208357
Madras New Woodlands restaurant
Go for the VIP Thali meal, an all-in-one experience of the flavors of South India. Food from this part of India is less known than the heavier curries in the North, but since most Indians in Singapore hail from the province of Tamil Nadu, this is where you can find some of the most authentic thosai (or dosa) anywhere. Bonus: It’s all vegetarian.
14 Upper Dickson Rd., Singapore 207474
Muthu’s Curry
There are other branches of this popular Chettinad restaurant, but this one will provide by far the most authentic experience. Try the fish head curry, the masala prawns and the mutton biryani.
138 Race Course Rd., #01-01, Singapore 218591
Banana Leaf Apolo
Curries here are served on a banana leaf, and their take on fish curry is exceptional. The service is always excellent, too.
54 Race Course Rd., Singapore 218564
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Shibani Mahtani
Born and raised in Singapore, Shibani is the Southeast Asia correspondent for The Washington Post. She started her career in the city, and while she is now based in Hong Kong, she still reports on Singapore and visits often to get her fix of the local food. She takes great pride in rebutting those she meets around the world who dismiss Singapore as boring.
Ore Huiying
Ore is a contributing photographer to The Washington Post based in Singapore. Her favorite place there is her family farm at the outskirts, an oasis of serenity amid the bustling city.
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