While Singapore is moving up the ranks of being “The Most Expensive Cities in the World”, finding that cheap and good lunch is being an uphill task. Or is it not?
Food prices are increasing but Singapore is still a place where we can still discover affordable food in our hawker centres, coffee shops and canteens. Some of us may want to watch our pocket when it comes to that 2nd meal of the day. We just need to uncover.
Can $5 buy you a great lunch? These are some of my favourite cheaper lunches around town.
The basement of Tang Plaza (many still prefer to call the building CK Tang) has been partly converted to Tangs Market, selling local and Malaysian favourites such as Redhill Teochew Fishball Noodle, Satay, Popiah & Kueh Pie Tee, Chee Cheong Fun, Peranakan Kueh, Laksa and Malaysian style Hokkien Mee.
My favourite dish there is the Fishball Meepok ($4) , which include 4 plump bouncy yellow tail fishballs, and one mixed with pork. The noodles are evenly tossed in a mixture of fish sauce and chilli, and has a flavour of its own compared to other typical food courts.
A 5 min walk away will bring us to Far East Plaza or Lucky Plaza (for cheap Yong Tau Foo). These older malls along Orchard Road both contain plenty of affordable eateries, some shops having been around for many years.
Hainanese Delicacy at Level 5 of Far East Plaza is a childhood favourite for many, serving chicken rice the old school way. A set is at $4!
There are several eateries on this floor such as Ayam Penyet Ria, Delicacy Food Centre, Puncak Best Noodle, Yusof & Arni Café, Tasty Treats and Tanjong Pinang – and you should be able to come across food that is wallet-friendly.
If I am craving for Nasi Lemak or Chicken Chop Rice, Punggol Nasi Padang outlet at Far East Plaza sells them a $4-$4.50. Okay, but the taste here can be rather inconsistent, and I wished that the food served was warmer.
If you are meeting friends in town and feel budget-conscious, take a 3-5 minutes walk from Somerset MRT to Killiney Road or to Cuppage Plaza.
Office workers’ favourite is the hidden basement of SingTel canteen (Oh, have I let the secret out?), or shops along Killiney Road.
A new kid in the block is Nana Teh Tarik, a 24-hour Halal shop which sells Prata ($1, $1.50 for egg, $2.50 for cheese) , Nasi and Mee Goreng ($4.00, 50 cents more for egg) , and Briyani ($5) .
Some of the dishes can get quite spicy, so a drink of iced-cold Coke will do the trick.
One of my favourites along that stretch to get a quick fix is Chicken Rice Express, which still keeps it prices low. A plate of Chicken Rice is $3.80, Wanton Noodles at $4.20 and the workers there are fast and efficient if you are in a hurry during lunch.
The famous original shops of Killiney Kopitiam and Killiney Curry Puff (which also sells mee soto, mee rebus, mee siam) are where you can find lunches for $5 as well.
I used to work around this area, and Qiji has been a reliable source for many to satisfy their Mee Siam ($3.90), Nasi Lemak ($4.20), Laksa ($4.00) and Popiah ($2.10) cravings.
Available at Funan DigitaLife Mall, Shaw Towers and Raffles Link .
You may notice a short queue outside Jai Thai Restaurant at Purvis Street. Some of the authentic Thai favourites such as Phai Thai, Beef Soup, Pineapple Rice and Olive Rice are all at $5.
There are many other Thai restaurants around the vicinity, but I do not think any is as economical as Jai Thai, and the taste is not too bad.
Another one of my regulars is Supreme Pork Chop at 67 Beach Road. This may be harder to locate because you have to enter via a short flight of steps that goes to the basement.
The stall serves Taiwanese style Noodles with Fish Fillet, Chicken Chop or Pork Chop at $4.00. A dish of Pork Chop with Fried Rice, Coleslaw and Egg is at $4.50!
The Salad Corner at Golden Shoe and Amoy Street Food Centre is THE salad stall of the OLs (office ladies). You will not miss the long snaking queue if you go during lunch time.
The winning factor is in its affordability – $4.90 for a basic salad with 5 toppings (yeah to Japanese cucumber, cranberries, kidney beans and tofu) and salad dressings (16 to choose from!). Fresh, cheap and delicious.
Those working nearing the Boat Quay area can visit Macpherson BBQ Seafood (don’t be confused, it’s not at Macpherson but 34 South Bridge Road). Their signature popular Sambal Stingray Rice is at $4.90. Even if you top it up with say fried chicken, sotong, or beef with a drink of Coke, it shouldn’t cost more than $10.
Just because you plan to eat cheap doesn’t mean you can’t have a great meal. For a start, you don’t have to settle for the same boring drinks and can opt for something with a bit more taste – an ice-cold Coke! And Coke can make the meal of your choice even better.
Note: Prices are correct at time of publishing. Do recommend other cheap and good food around town.
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