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Dumpling Darlings
Photograph: Dumpling Darlings Pierogis

The 30 best cheap eats in Singapore

Chow down on these value-for-money dishes for just $10 or less

By Time Out Singapore editors and Fabian Loo

Dining out in Singapore can be expensive; we are, after all, one of the most expensive cities to live in. But it’s possible to dine on a dime if you know where to look. Away from the Michelin-starred restaurants and familiar hawker favourites, we’re letting you in on some cheap finds in our city – places that provide a comfortable, hearty meal for under $10 (before taking into account for taxes) in a comfortable place. Whether it is a comforting bowl of noodles you seek, or a stack of crispy and dough-y roti prata you crave, we've got all your food needs covered. Here's helping you spend less on lunch so you can splurge on the things that matter.

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Tenya Singapore
Photograph: Tenya Singapore

Tendon at Tenya Singapore

Restaurants Japanese Orchard

This top tendon chain from Japan utilises a special tempura-frying machine that can churn out over 1,000 pieces of perfectly crisp parcels in under an hour. With this efficient, reliable rate, properly prepped tendon bowls that can be produced in shorted durations, and at greater quantities. This allows Tenya to keep its price low – just $8.50 for its signature namesake bowl, which comes crowned with prawn, red fish, squid, pumpkin, and french beans. Looking to cut down on carbs (and more cost-savings)? Opt for the less rice option to shave $0.50 off the price of the bowl. $8.50

Photograph: Yakiniku-GO

Beef and chicken set at Yakiniku-GO

Restaurants Japanese Sengkang

Enjoy a smokeless barbecue meal at Yakiniku-GO. This casual heartland eatery utilises an electric grill to cook up cuts of beef and chicken – all without the lingering odour. Sample a wide range of affordably priced sets; the cheapest beef and chicken set goes for $9.80, and comes with 100g of beef short plate and sliced chicken, along with rice, soup, and a choice between salad or kimchi. For a light lunch, there's also the DIY Niku Sushi Set ($6.80) where you can construct your own sushi with freshly grilled meat. $9.80

Restaurant Aisyah
Photograph: Restaurant Aisyah/ Facebook

Dumplings at Restaurant Aisyah

Restaurants Tanjong Pagar

You'll find traditional Chinese plates – of hand-pulled noodles and freshly pinched dumplings – at this restaurant. The Muslim-owner store hopes to put a Halal spin on these conventionally meat-heavy dishes, resulting in a hearty plate of eight dumplings, stuffed with minced beef or lamb that come drizzled with a fiery sauce that packs a savoury kick. $8.80

Syohachi Wagyu Hamburg wagyu cheese toastie
Photograph: Syohachi Wagyu Hamburg

Wagyu toastie at Syohaci Wagyu Hamburg

Restaurants Japanese Raffles Place

Grade A5 wagyu? On a list of cheap food? You’ll find it at Syohaci Wagyu Hamburg. Here, patties come made from premium beef at wallet-friendly prices – an impressive feat it’s able to achieve through economies of scale. The brand owns two cattle farms in Japan, which supplies a steady stream of A5 wagyu slices to its Hong Kong-based yakiniku chain, Syohachi Yakiniku. But offcuts and unused parts of the cow are typically wasted, and the brand turns them into quality, inch-thick beef patties instead. The beef toastie, available during breakfast and dinner hours, uses a 100g patty, cooked over the grill to impart plenty of smoke. It then comes sandwiched between slices of warm, buttered toast. $7.70

Photograph: Meatsmith

Burgers at Meatsmith Telok Ayer

Restaurants American Tanjong Pagar

Hit up this modern smokehouse for real-deal American barbecue. Inspired by the smokehouses in Nashville, Memphis and Austin, the Telok Ayer serves $10 burgers on weekdays. On Mondays, brisket sandwich; Tuesdays, cheeseburger; Wednesdays, fried chicken sandwich; and Thursdays, pulled pork sandwich. $10

Photograph: Fabian Loo

Pork katsu at Sando

Restaurants Kent Ridge

At this Japanese sandwich bar, fillings of meat and eggs come stuffed between slices of shokupan – softer, fluffier than usual white bread. Its signature creation is the pork katsu sando, where the meat is first brined, then breaded with panko crumbs before hitting the deep-fryer, complete with onions caramelised with duck fat and tonkatsu sauce. $10

Go Noodle House
Photograph: Nigel Low

Hakka pan mee at Go Noodle House

Restaurants Malaysian Orchard

Hailing from across the Causeway, Go Noodle House specialises in piping hot bowls of rice noodles served in soup made from a fish-bone master stock that's been bubbling for over six years. We adore the dry Hakka pan mee with century egg ($9.90). The noodles are hand-rolled in-house daily and tossed with plenty of pork lard, black fungus, fried shallots and anchovies, minced pork, century egg, and chilli oil. Not spicy enough for you? Add in a couple spoonfuls of tart chilli sauce for extra oomph. $9.90

Yakiniku Like
Photograph: Yakiniku Like

Karubi at Yakiniku Like

Restaurants Japanese Geylang

Yakiniki Like, a Japan-based yakiniku fast-food chain, has opened its first local store at Paya Lebar Quarter. The brand is known for its affordability and quick service – and promises to deliver your food from kitchen to table in under three minutes. Once served, cook your meat over the special, individualised smoke-less grill, paired with rice, soup, and your choice of kimchi or salad. There is no GST and service charge, and the cheapest Karubi Set comes with 100g of beef short plate. $8.80

Fu Lin Bar and Kitchen
Photograph: Fu Lin Bar and Kitchen/ Facebook

Yong tau foo at Fu Lin Bar and Kitchen

Bars and pubs Tanjong Pagar

Time your visits to Fu Lin Bar and Kitchen properly. At night, the place is a buzzy watering hole that serves locally inspired tipples and bar bites. But during the day, its counter is lined with fresh yong tau foo. Choose your ingredients, and wait for your plate to return with deep-fried stuff drenched in gooey mushroom-meat sauce. $7

Ah Lock and Co
Photograph: Ah Lock & Co. Facebook

Rice bowls at Ah Lock & Co.

Restaurants Raffles Place

What started out as a hawker stall at Yishun Park Hawker Centre has now branched out to the CBD. The menu at Ah Lock & Co. combines modern Hakka rice bowls with freshly made min jiang kueh. Get the Hakka tofu bowl, a well-balanced meal featuring handmade meatballs, tofu stuffed with a meat paste, and the quintessential mani cai (sayur manis) served atop fluffy rice. $7.80

Seng Kee Black Chicken Herbal Soup
Photograph: Seng Kee Black Chicken Herbal Soup/ Facebook

Herbal mee sua at Seng Kee Black Chicken Herbal Soup

Restaurants Hawker Bedok

It’s might be a popular supper joint, but the famous herbal mee sua can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Each bowl of nourishing soup comes swimming with vermicelli and slices of pork, kidney, and liver. Others make their way down for their herbal black chicken soups boiled with herbs like ginseng or cordyceps. $5

Ichikokudo Hokkaido Ramen
Photograph: Ichikokudo Hokkaido Ramen/ Facebook

Shoyu ramen from Ichikokudo Hokkaido Ramen

Restaurants Japanese City Hall

While creamy ramen broth comes made with pork bones, at this Halal-certified noodle joint, the soup comes fortified with an umami mix of chicken, vegetables, kelp, and bonito flakes. For a cheap, and light, meal, consider the clear shoyu ramen which makes it all too easy to slurp up the entire bowl. $9.90

Tsui Wah
Photograph: Tsui Wah

Wonton noodles at Tsui Wah

Restaurants Coffeeshops

Tuck into flavours of Hong Kong at the Singapore outpost of this famous café. In particular, the wonton noodles come with juicy parcels of meat and comforting fish broth. Other dishes are just as affordable, like the braised pork cartilage in fish soup with mixian the crispy bun with condensed milk. $9

Seng's Noodle Bar
Photograph: Seng's Noodle Bar/ Facebook

Char siu noodle at Wanton Seng's Noodle Bar

Restaurants Tanjong Pagar

Chinese comfort food at its best, you'll find all it all in a bowl of wonton mee here. It might cost a tad more than a standard bowl at any coffee shop but take a bite of the torched char siew, springy egg noodles, tender pork belly, and famous peppery boiled wontons (the recipe has a five-decade legacy) before you make your judgement. Of course more helpings of the chilli sauce, caddy of oils and lard crackers help as well. $7

dumpling darlings
Photograph: Dumpling Darlings

Pierogis at Dumpling Darlings

Restaurants Chinese Tanjong Pagar

The menu is simple. Either you go with dumplings or noodles (preferably both) at this joint and even with the little choices it has on the menu, it's still difficult making choices. Noodle bowls start from $5 and come in delightful flavours like miso mushroom noodles and Sichuan pork noodles. The crowd favourites are the dumplings and for $7 you can get a whole plate for yourself. Try the pierogis which are stuffed with smoked bacon, truffle potato, caramelised onion, cheddar and sriracha cream. $8

Hawker Chan
Photograph: Hawker Chan

Soya sauce chicken rice at Hawker Chan

Restaurants Chinatown

Bid goodbye to long queues at hot and stuffy Chinatown Complex – you can now have a taste of chef Chan Hon Meng's Michelin-winning dishes at his new quick-service restaurant, Hawker Chan. The air-conditioned restaurant sits 80 and serves the same dishes that catapulted Chan to fame, and in particular, the humble soya sauce chicken rice, among other roast meats and noodle dishes. $3.80

Two Men Bagel House
Photograph: Two Men Bagel House/ Facebook

Bagels at Two Men Bagel House

Restaurants Bukit Timah

Two Men Bagel House brings the bagel craze to our shores. Here, the dense and chewy bread comes either savoury or sweet, with prices starting from $3. All-day breakfast bagels like the Elvis – a winning combo of candied bacon, caramalised banana, jam, and peanut butter; and the White Fairy – mascarpone and apricot jam – can be enjoyed at any time of the day. $10

Mr Biryani
Photograph: Mr Biryani

Biryani at Mr Biryani

Restaurants Indian Rochor

If there’s one thing you should definitely order from this store, make it the biryani. Here, the restaurant specialises in Hyderabadi dhum biryani, a regional cooking method of slow-cooking spiced meats together with par-boiled rice. Try its flavourful creation in its vegetable creation, cooked with biryani masala. Or swing by during Friday lunch to sample the space jackfruit dhum biryani. From $9

Guzman Y Gomez
Photograph: Guzman Y Gomez

Mini burrito at Guzman Y Gomez

Restaurants Mexican Raffles Place

It’s hard to beat Guzman’s price tag for a wholesome burrito that’s stuffed with rice, soft black beans, salsa, melted Jack cheese, and your choice of filling: mild or spicy grilled chicken, steak, fish, or roasted pork – there’s even a vegetarian option with sautéed onions, mushrooms and guacamole. We chose pan-seared fish, dressed in a tangy garlic-lime sauce that removed any hint of fishiness. $7.90

Tamoya Udon
Photograph: Tamoya Udon

Udon at Tamoya Udon

Restaurants Japanese City Hall

Clinching the ‘Best Udon Maker of Kagawa Prefecture’ in a Japanese TV show, Tamoya pulls thick wheat flour noodles that are a result of blending three types of flour and adjusting the amount of salt to our city’s humidity levels. Pick from hot or cold dishes – prices range from $3.90 to $10.80 a bowl. Once you’ve made your choice, pick up a tempura side to accompany your bowl. Our favourite? The pork udon – its light broth complements the salty-sweet pork perfectly. $9.80

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