10 Best Cheap Eats in Singapore 2015 (MUST TRY!)
In an article by The New Paper recently, it was mentioned at NYT’s food critic Pete Wells has included Orh Luak in his list of the top 10 restaurant dishes of 2015. That is really something.
Especially with the news that Michelin Guide is coming to Singapore in 2016, there has been questions as to whether our hawker food should be in the guide. In my opinion, why not? Hawker food is closely linked to our Singapore identity. Some of my favorite places to eat are not cozy at all. Air-conditioning, maybe not. Tables, not always clean. Chairs, not the kind that say, “Stay a while.” But you know that, the only comfort is the food.
Below, are 10 Best Cheap Eats I was most grateful to review in 2015. Each stall reminded me that cooking takes time, especially when only one person is in the kitchen, quietly telling his or her story through food.
1. Lim’s Fried Oyster
Address: #01-32, Berseh Food Centre, 166 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208877
Opening Hours: 6pm to 12am daily (impromptu off days)
Big thank you to Tony Tee, I have found Lim’s Fried Oyster – a hidden gem at the ground floor of Berseh Food Centre. Here, the Teochew Ah Hia makes the batter by himself. Each bite was made up of crispy, charred and fragrant skin encasing a morsel of moist, and gooey combination. You get the perfect texture of chewy and crispy starchy bits. The plate I had was moist and it was fried with some chilli sauce to bring out taste even better. The plump and succulent oysters here came from Korea, it’s XL size as compared to other stalls. Each plate is topped with coriander leaves, and please dip it into the thick and tangy chilli sauce. It’s shiok! I think I should bring Pete Wells here for orh luak.
2. Kim Keat Hokkien Mee
Address: Blk 92 Toa Payoh Lorong 4 #01-264, Singapore 310092
Opening Hours: Mon: 1130am – 930pm; Wed-Sun: 1130am – 930pm
Last year, we were singing praises about Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh, a business of a second chance. This year, our attention focuses on Kim Keat Hokkien mee. Mr Lee Eng Keat has been in and out of prison countless times for the past 20 years. He turned over a new leaf and opened his Toa Payoh stall last year. His Claypot Hokkien Mee ($10/$15/$20/$25/$30) was cooked twice – first stir fried, then cooked over fire. The noodles absorbed the superior broth, resulting in a gooey pot of goodness. Each claypot comes with a few pieces of sio bak, prawns and squid.
3. Ah Hoe Mee Pok
Address: Blk 710 Clementi West Street 2, Weng Kwang Coffeeshop, Singapore 120710
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 6am to 3pm, closed on Sundays
When a Japanese cooks ramen, we think nothing much of it. But when a Japanese cooks meepok in a coffeeshop, people from different parts of Singapore flock to Clementi to try. That’s the case for Ah Hoe Mee Pok (阿和面薄). Displaying that famed Japanese precision, Naoji-san sets the timer, dips a generous squiggle of noodles into boiling water, lets the noodles cook while he prepares other ingredients. When the timer is gone, he pulls the noodles out, tosses them up and high for a couple of times till it reaches the desired QQ texture. The noodles are al dente and springy, with a splash of pork lard oil coating the noodles perfectly. We love the soup version more as the cabbage kinda brings a subtle sweetness to the cloudy and satisfying broth.
4. Jin Ji Braised Duck Kway Chap
Address: Blk 335 Smith Street, Chinatown Complex Hawker Centre #02-156
Opening Hours: Mon-Thu 10am – 7pm; Sat & Sun: 10am – 7pm. Closed on Friday
Chicken Rice Balls, you probably have eaten it. Now how about duck rice balls bento? Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck has created a Kway Chap Bento ($8) which generous platter of duck rice rolled into balls, tender braised duck, kway chap, pickled vegetables and Japanese-style runny yolk lava eggs. It’s interesting to see how our local food has evolved overtime. This bento set is unique on its own, yet still comforting. Kway Chap and Duck Rice is available as well. Full review will come next week!
Address: Blk 16 Bedok South Road Market & Food Centre, Singapore 460016
Opening hours: Opens daily till late lunch. Closed on Tuesdays.
Opened for less than a month in Bedok South, owner Ibu Bida gave up her corporate job to start a hawker stall. She hired a talented Indonesian cook from Tanjung Pinang to whip up a good spread of dishes. Your inclination at Enak, is definitely to order the $5.50 Nasi Ambeng – a traditional and authentic Javanese feast served in a platter. For that price, you get steamed rice surrounded by some of Indonesia’s greatest hits: beef rendang, sambal goreng, bergedil (potato patty), achar (pickled vegetables), terung (spicy brinjal), serunding (grated coconut) and an excellent sambal belancan. I think this is the best deal in town. For other more premium nasi ambeng, visit Pu3 Restaurant or Ambeng Cafe by Ummi Abdullah.
6. Uncle Chicken Rice
Address: 348 Simpang Bedok, The Bedok Marketplace, Singapore S469560
Opening Hours: 12pm to 8pm (closed on alternate Mondays)
Sin Kee is a well-known name in the defunct Margaret Drive Hawker Centre. The business started in 1971 by Mr. Leong and now the second generation siblings decided to continue the heritage and set up a stall called “Uncle Chicken Rice“. Besides chicken rice, they have come up with Lo Ding set ($4) to complement their juicy chicken. Their signature ginger and scallion dip is heavenly! Made with roughly blended fresh ginger mash mixed with chopped scallions, the dip is packed with lots of punch.
7. A.S. Seafood Soup
Address: 108 depot road #02-22, Depot Height Shopping Center Yue Hwa Food Court Singapore 100108 (Another outlet in Blk 412 Bedok North Ave 2)
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11am to 9pm
Learning from the seafood soup master at Woodlands Centre, A.S Seafood Soup owner currently has two stalls in Depot Road and Bedok. Using old hen, dried scallops and pork ribs to cook the stock for 4 hours, the broth is full bodied with a balance of sweetness and savouriness. It has a milder crustacean flavour abut still good enough when you crave for a piping good bowl of soup on a rainy day. We ordered $12 bowl which comes with crayfish, fish slices and prawns. The crayfish is the star as it is meaty and tender. The prawns are crunchy as well.
8. Keng Eng Kee Seafood
Address: Blk 124 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-136, Singapore 150124
Opening hours: 11:30am to 1:45pm; 5:00pm to 10:45pm
Keng Eng Kee started by Chef Wayne’s grandparents in the 1970s, along Old Havelock Road. Upon the demolition of the former Havelock Road Hawker Centre, Keng Eng Kee Seafood shifted to Alexandra Village. Their Fried Hor Fun ($5 / $8 / $12 / $16) has been part of KEK’s menu since the 1960’s. The wok hei is excellent, if you take a peep into the kitchen, you can see the chef tossing the hor fun under big fire till it gets slightly charred. You get a smoky flavour from the flat noodles that was stir fried with lard, chinese sausages, prawns, squid and dark sauce. Add the egg yolks in the middle, mix it up with the noodles and you get an excellent plate smooth and delicious hor fun. Chef Wayne has recently opened KEK Pandan Gardens (200 Pandan Gardens #01-12), do check them out!
9. Siang Yuen Traditional Roasts
Address: 750E Chai Chee Road, Chai Chee Technopark 750E Food Court, Singapore 469005
Boss Joe and his brothers are all meat roasters. It is no wonder that the roast duck at Siang Yuen Traditional Roasts is well executed. All the meats are roasted using charcoal within the stall. Look at that glistering crispy skin! It is well well-marinated with five-spice powder, chinese herbs and salt, leaving a slight crispy skin and tender meat. The pork belly score in its crackling skin. All the roasted items go well with rice, kway teow or noodles.
10. Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata
Address: 300-302 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 429356
Opening hours: 6:30am to 1:30pm, closed on Tues/Wed 3rd week of the month
Good, artisanal pratas are hard to come by. Meet Mr and Mrs Mohgan, the couple who does super crispy roti prata in the middle of Joo Chiat. Mr Mohgan has been making prata for more than 30 years. He makes his own dough, cooked the curry and flips the prata all by himself. Talk about quality control, this prata man sure knows how to make his customers happy. Moderately thick and pan fried till a beautiful brown, the pratas here are fresh and SUPER CRISPY. And the buttery taste added the aroma and flavor to the dough. Go early to avoid disappointment!
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