Among the endless lighting shops and kopitiams along Balestier Road, it’s hard to miss Hiro Bakehouse, a tiny and simple Japanese-inspired takeout bakery that looks like it’s been plucked out of Kinfolk magazine with its relaxing, cosy space.

It was precisely the area's bustling vibe and slightly seedy reputation that caught 29-year-old Irvin Ong’s eye when she was scouting for a location for her first bakery, Hiro Bakehouse, which opened last November. “I love it here. There’s a real sense of community — our customers include expats as well as uncles and aunties who have lived here for decades. It’s been great getting to know people from all walks of life,” the bubbly baker tells us.

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