The neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru now plays host to a myriad of trendy cafes, local boutiques, one-of-a-kind bookshops, and silently great bakeries all whilst sharing space with a traditional market.
The guys at 40 Hands believe they kicked off this rejuvenation of the neighbourhood into what it is today when they set up shop here at Yong Siak Street back in 2010.
And given how almost a decade on, 40 Hands is still as bustling as ever like it opened just last week, they might just be right.
Massively popular for weekend brunches, if you find yourself here on a Saturday or Sunday, you might be in for a bit of a queue, but the queue moves relatively quick and I've never found the wait to be overbearing.
Stepping in, you've got a really cosy vibe where diners are packed in, and a staircase down to an adjacent floor gives you more seating options.
Ordering is done at the counter, and your brunch favourites will be served to you in a flash.
My favourites here are the Eggs Benedict, and you've got two options here, one served with a juicy steak that's been diced up or crispy bacon strips served with spinach. Both come with a side of spicy roasted potatoes. I prefer the steak option that's been cooked well done over the bacon, but that might be down to personal preference than anything. That, and the fact Eggs Benedict and bacon is a pretty standard combination you can get almost anywhere else.
Of course, you can't talk brunch without Smashed Avo on Toast, with coriander, cumin and dill feta served atop homemade peptic toast with an additional option to have a serving of poached eggs on the side. Nothing particularly inventive or new to see here, but it's perfectly sufficient.
Another thing 40 Hands features on the menu would be their toasties, or sandwiches. All dishes are served with a side of salad or fries.
The 40 Hands Cubanos is served on a TIong Bahru Bakery Baguette, with a hearty serving of mojo pork, honey-smoked ham, mayonnaise, English mustard, jalapeños and cheese. The pork was the standout here and the strongest flavour, though cutlery provided was useless when it came to cutting through the baguette— you're going to have to use your hands for this one. I did think the baguette was a little too tough, though, but it was still a good dish outside of that.
Taking the palette closer to the Middle East is The 40 Hands Falafel, with homemade chickpea and broad bean falafel, tomato, lettuce, pickles, pita, and a heavy dose of cucumber raita. I thought this was okay, and the dash of cucumber raita felt a little overpowering for my tastes.
Keeping the menu diverse, some sides include Tau Sar Pau (red bean buns, a local favourite), Coachella Crab Fries, Kong Bak Pau (steamed pork buns with soya sauce) etc., as well as sweets you can order straight from the counter.
In all, 40 Hands has become an institution in Tiong Bahru Estate, and now they've recently opened another branch in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur.
This place is bustling, even for weekday brunches, though if you're looking for a peaceful cafe for dinner, 40 Hands closes at 7pm unfortunately. Still, there's a reason why years on, queues still form at the door.
Address: 78 Yong Siak Street #01-12 Singapore 163078
Monday to Friday - 7am till 7pm
Saturday to Sunday - 7.30am till 7pm