What? Korean BBQ and Army Stew Buffet from $18.90 at Tiong Bahru? Yup, $18.90 for buffet lunch and $22.90 for buffet dinner.
They sell ala carte items too, with Fried Chicken ($6 for 4 pieces) which is considered affordable when prices of everything else keep going up.
Noona Korean Kitchen 누나 located at Kim Tian Road (used to be a 418 Bedok North Ave 2) has one of the cutest origin stories out there.
It started with five lifelong friends sharing a common dream of running a restaurant.
Later, they managed to make the dream a reality with their first outlet in Bedok. Since then, enough customers have been flocking to the stall, that the story has only gotten bigger.
The five of them are jolly middle-aged ladies – hence, “noona” 누나 which is Korean for “older sister”.
First, I had to get to the Korean stall – it is hidden in Happy Hawkers (owned by Koufu) along Kim Tian Road, some walk from the nearest train station.
You can also find Lao Ye Teochew Porridge and King of Fried Rice (another one?) in the same kopitiam.
While Noona Korean Kitchen may seem like just another neighbourhood Korean eatery populating the outskirts of town, it stands out for its affordability.
They are known for their free flow Korean BBQ and Army Stew Buffet priced at $18.90 for lunch.
Prices are $18.90 for lunch ($10.90 for child) and $22.90 for dinner ($13.90 for child).
Ingredients include assorted seafood such as prawn, spicy pork belly, spicy pork, luncheon meat, sausage, meatballs, tteokbokki, mushroom and vegetables.
If you prefer ala carte, an Army Stew good for two to three persons come in at just $20 – I dare say this is close to 50% cheaper than most Korean restaurants out there.
One good thing about the Army Stew is that it is easily customisable at a very low price.
Add-on of proteins and seafood, like pork, chicken, beef, prawn, clams, are all priced at $3. Carbs, like rice cake and ramyeon, are $1.5. Want some cheese? It is a dollar too.
I ordered a Army Stew Ramyeon ($7) to get a taste; though I thought that the noodles were too soggy and soup base could taste more layered. But I wasn’t asking for too much base on the price.
For a more casual lunch or dinner, go for the rice bowls or the soups. For example, a hefty bowl of Pork or Chicken Tofu Soup comes in at $7, with a choice of rice or ramyeon.
I have yet to try many items yet, but the Seafood Toufu Soup ($8) was my favourite item.
Generally, I thought they may have lowered the spice level to suit the mass market, and so I wished for a more robust taste overall.
Rice bowls are the hot stuff, although it is much more than it sounds. Each bed of rice is stacked with japchae, vegetables, and a protein of your choice – between Marinade Beef ($9), Marinade Pork or Chicken ($8), Spicy Pork or Chicken ($8), or Grilled Mackerel ($9).
Of course, they come with complimentary banchans. The banchans, or side dishes, are all homemade except for the kimchi.
Each customer would be given a sauce to fill up “as much as they want”, but only for a round – which is very fair.
Even if Noona Korean Chicken is just a little bit out of the way, it is a hidden gem if you are looking for inexpensive Korean food.
Noona Korean Kitchen – Tiong Bahru
201 Kim Tian Road, #01-400, Singapore 160201
Opening Hours: 11am – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
* Written by Daniel Ang and Dean Ang. Follow @DanielFoodDiary on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube for more food news, food videos and travel highlights. DFD paid for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.