My Singapore: Tara Tan of Now & Then

I met the delightful Tara Tan, writer, director, and arts’ critic, at our second “Artsy Meetup.” I’ve been a big fan of her blog and it was wonderful to put a face to a name.

In her own words: “I work as a creative thinker and editorial writer. I direct projects in performance, film and everything in between.

“In 2011, I founded a creative collective, Now & Then, to create a collaborative space for wonderful, talented people who dare to dream and who dream of the daring.

“You could say I like pretty things and things put in pretty ways. My writing is published in reads like The Straits Times, Singapore’s biggest newspaper, and Time Out Singapore. One of my short films (on a sprightly  70-year-old Indian dancer), Mrs. Santha Bhaskar (2010), has been screened at the Singapore Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010, Sinema and The Substation. In April, I staged Imagined Future Benefit, a 45-minute performance art installation with 100 chairs and a hell lot of throwing.

“Born and raised in Singapore, I love to travel, like many of the islanders in this tiny, but busy, city-state. My favourite places are Tokyo, New York and most recently, I fell in love with Bhutan. I spent three-and-a-half years in the UK for my B.A. (first class) in Drama: Theatre, Film and Television at Bristol University.

“But really, at the root of it all, I am still very much a Katong kid at heart.”

She’s also a contributor to Muse: Art, Design, and Culture in the Little Red Dot, one of my newest must-reads.

To Tara…

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Must-eats?

For rainy days… Satsuma. This blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Japanese yakitori place in Gallery Hotel serves the most exquisite grilled meats and veggies. Try their quail eggs wrapped in bacon! My friends vouch for the chicken hearts on a skewer, but I’m, uh, way too chicken to stomach that. Their yuzu tea is fabulous, too. Crunch your way through the free-flow of fresh cabbage dipped in yummy yuzu sauce. Or Space, for affordable, yummy carrot cake (topped with shredded crab) and laksa with a twist (battered oysters, scallops, yum).

For brunch with the girls… Prive. I love the Prive Bakery Cafe for its incredibly delicious Eggs Royale—slices of raw salmon on perfectly poached eggs. Their desserts are a must-have; the chocolate tart is to die for. Make sure to get a seat outside. It’s much more pleasant and you get to gaze at bobbing yachts in a post-brunch haze.

For a hideaway coffee place… Coffee Daily, tucked away in Brighton Crescent (near Serangoon Gardens); Jewel Artisan Coffee for well-crafted coffee; and, recently, Toby’s Estate for their lattes.

For a quiet place to work in the afternoons… Group Therapy. It’s on the second floor of a shophouse—and hard to find the first time—but the warm, wonderful people at this cafe will keep you coming back. It’s quiet on weekday afternoons, so I often head there to do a bit of work, accompanied by a generous slice of their stellar carrot cake.

For the super secret date… Kilo. Run by the people behind the lovely Raw Kitchen Bar, Kilo serves up comforting, unpretentious fare made with plenty of heart and craft. One of my absolute favourite places in Singapore.

Must-shops?

Like This One, a vintage furniture store, always has beautiful things on offer.

Some of my favourite local designers include Reckless Erica and Mae Pang.

Must-dos?

I’ve been spending too many evenings at Cider Pit, this hole-in-the-wall bar at the foot of a seafood restaurant. The company’s awesome and cider is cheap!

Art Plural Gallery on Armenian Street curates a wonderful selection of contemporary art pieces. For a night out, head to 83@Club Street for its wicked vibe and zany art on the walls.

For the more adventurous, sip on absinthe at Absinthe Artisan.

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Need directions? Check out notabilia’s My Singapore guide!

Know a creative person who wants to share his or her must-stop spots with my readers? Please email all suggestions to me with the subject line ‘My Singapore.’

(Additional credits: Photographs provided by Tara Tan.)