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Best cheap eats in Singapore

We pick the best and most value-for-money restaurant-style dishes you can chow down for $10 or less

Korean fried chicken lunch set, $6.90
1/20

Korean fried chicken lunch set, $6.90

At OPPA Chicken

For Korean fried chicken at a steal, head down to OPPA chicken. Lunch sets are priced at $6.90 and come with your choice of rice, noodles or fries, and a large boneless piece of fried chicken that's been marinated in one of five flavours: original, honey garlic, soy garlic, yangnyum and flaming yangnyum. Top up three dollars for a salad or canned drink. There's no GST or service charge here so feel free to eat and drink to your heart's content.

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Redhill
The Golden Pump soup, $6
2/20

The Golden Pump soup, $6

At Soup Living

Each Cantonese-style, slow-fire soup here is made from premium Chinese herbs and is boiled without MSG or chicken stock cubes. There are currently six types of soups on the menu, including favourites like The Golden Pump ($6), a naturally sweet soup boiled from Australian golden butternut pumpkin, apricot kernels and dried scallops. Add $2.50 to complete your meal with a bowl of fluffy Japanese rice (or brown rice) topped with furikake or two pieces of handmade siew mai and a drink.

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Tanjong Pagar
Yin yang chicken rice, $8.90
3/20

Yin yang chicken rice, $8.90

At Roost

Chicken rice stalls are a dime a dozen in Singapore, but it's not often you come across a place with its very own automated poultry cooking machine. The machine took 13 years to perfect and now dishes out consistently tender and fragrant birds each time. Roost's poached and soya sauce chicken rice ($8.90 each) are also healthier alternatives to the ones found at hawker centres – the rice is cooked with canola oil and comes in at under 500 calories per plate. Get the yin yang chicken rice ($8.90) for half portions of both types of chicken. If you're looking to indulge, try the chicken laksa ($7.90) and tom yum fried rice ($8.90) instead.

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Orchard
Steamboat lunch set, $9.90
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
4/20

Steamboat lunch set, $9.90

At Shi Li Fang

Herbal chicken broth hot pot with fatty pork belly and toothsome hand-pulled noodles, all for just $10? Yes, it’s possible at Shi Li Fang. The Taiwanese steamboat restaurant offers steamboat set lunch meals for just $9.90 (taxes not included; so take note) that even comes with a drink of your choice. You pick a soup base (the place prides itself on not using MSG), a main protein and the type of noodles for your meal. Then on top of that, you get a good heaping of vegetables – slices of cabbage, carrot, winter melon, bok choy – tofu, black fungus, enoki mushrooms and an egg. It’s definitely enough to induce a post-lunch food coma.

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Somerset
Soya sauce chicken rice, $2
5/20

Soya sauce chicken rice, $2

At Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle

Prepare to queue 2 to 3 hours for this soya sauce chicken rice. Chef Chan Hon Meng has been cooking soya sauce chicken for over three decades and has elevated the humble fowl to its, err, beak potential. Each bird is tender and juicy – have it on a bed of rice, with a helping of steamed nuts and dark sauce ($2) or order half or the whole chicken to share (from $7).

We hear that Chan has plans to expand his business in a tie-up with an F&B group soon. Considering that he's getting on in years, he might not be cooking for much longer. So head down to get the world's cheapest Michelin-starred meal, cooked by the original chef, while you still can. 

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Chinatown
Sungei Road Laksa, $3
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
6/20

Sungei Road Laksa, $3

At Sungei Road Laksa

The shop name says it all. With only one thing on the menu, this humble eatery still rakes in long queues every day. The laksa gravy, cooked over charcoal, is light and not too spicy – that’s what the sambal is for. Stir it in if you want more heat in your bowl ($3). Topped only with fishcake and plump cockles, you’ll polish off a bowl in under 5 minutes.

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Lavender
Latte, $1
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
7/20

Latte, $1

At Happy Owl Café

If you ever find yourself in the Whampoa or Balestier area late into the night hunting for supper and caffeine to keep your belly warm, seek out Happy Owl Café. This no-frills eatery, which shuts its doors at 5am, serves up freshly brewed coffee of any kind, for just one dollar. We say go for the latte, and drop an extra $2 for free flow coffee. It’s even cheaper than your coffee shop kopi.

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Novena
Nasi padang, from $4
8/20

Nasi padang, from $4

At Hjh Maimunah

The queue at this nasi padang restaurant stretches out the door even before lunchtime hits. We can't blame the crowd, though, as only the early birds get the worm. Or in this case, stellar beef rendang and sambal goreng. Also, don't miss out on the tauhu telor that sells out fast. Aside from quintessential nasi padang dishes, there are also rarer ones like lemak siput sedut, sea snails swimming in a coconut-rich broth.

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Paya Lebar
Pork belly Bibim Guksu, $2.90
9/20

Pork belly Bibim Guksu, $2.90

At Chow Fun Restaurant & Bar

Sometimes (often) when you can't decide what to eat, wouldn't it be nice if you could just sample everything on the menu? At Chow Fun – a tongue-in-cheek reference to Chinese noodles sold in America – you can. Have your pick from 18 Asian and Western dishes that, perhaps in a nod to the small plates trend, come in tasting portions ($2.90) like the pork belly Bibim Guksu. The meat is cooked for 24 hours in a honey-mirin glaze and laid over spicy noodles mixed with Korean hot pepper and sesame sauce. Selected flavours are available in regular sizes ($15.90) but we know you'd rather eat as many different noodle dishes 'til you're full.

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Newton
Udon, $9.80
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
10/20

Udon, $9.80

At Tamoya Udon

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 $5.80 to $13.40 a bowl, but only the beef, pork and curry udons will set you back more than $10. Once you’ve made your choice, pick up a veggie ($1) or prawn ($2.50) tempura to accompany your bowl. Our favourite? The pork sanuki udon ($9.80) – its light broth complements the salty-sweet pork perfectly.

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Clarke Quay
Chirashi don, $9.90
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
11/20

Chirashi don, $9.90

At The Tuckerbox Lunch

At $9.90, it’s the cheapest chirashi in town. Catering to the ‘lunch in front of the computer’ crowd in the CBD is The Tuckerbox Lunch, whose convenient bento don sets are particularly popular. While it’s a little disconcerting that upon ordering you’re presented with a lacquer box yanked straight from the chiller, rest assured the boxes are packed fresh every day. And you’ll get a good portion of rice, topped with chunks of raw salmon, sweet beancurd skin, tamago, tobiko, cucumber, wakame, picked ginger and a few slices of pickled radish. Unfortunately, there isn’t a special sauce (we’re looking at you, Teppei) to bring everything together – a sprinkling of furikake is all the extra seasoning you’ll get. But for that price, which includes free miso soup and tea if you dine in, we can’t complain.

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Telok Ayer
Wontons and char siew, $4-$5
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
12/20

Wontons and char siew, $4-$5

At Nam Seng Noodles and Fried Rice

We’ll be the first to admit that, flavour-wise, this is not the best wonton mee around. The wontons and char siew ($4-$5) are nothing to write home about, but everyone’s really here for the noodles: they’re thicker than usual and come swimming in a slightly soupy base of soya sauce and sesame oil. If anything, it reminds us of the version from our school canteens – and that in itself makes the dish special.

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Telok Ayer
Chapati with mutton keema, $5.20
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
13/20

Chapati with mutton keema, $5.20

At Azmi Restaurant

While there’s a wide variety of curries to choose from at Azmi, ask any connoisseur and they’ll tell you that chapati goes best with mutton keema ($5.20). Tear off some of the warm flatbread, scoop up the devil-red mix of minced mutton, potato and peas, add a slice of raw cucumber or onion, and stuff it all in as the keema dribbles down your hand. It’s so good, you won’t mind the mess.

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Little India
Beef Burger, $8.50
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
14/20

Beef Burger, $8.50

At iSteaks Diner

What started out years ago as a hawker stall serving affordable steaks has since gotten an upgrade – it’s now got two air-conditioned outlets, in Serangoon Gardens and Holland Village. Thankfully, the new digs didn't come along with significantly higher prices. Besides very decent steaks, the hawker-style Western fare runs the usual gamut of soups, burgers, pastas and grilled meats like chicken and lamb chops. But for under ten bucks you’d wanna order the beef burger. You get a juicy patty, cheese, lettuce, tomato and a side of fries. Granted, it’s not the best burger in Singapore by a long shot, so we’d recommend you add toppings such as sautéed mushrooms, bacon or a fried egg – they’re all $1 a pop.

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Holland Village
Yakitori don, $8.80
15/20

Yakitori don, $8.80

At Teppei Daidokoro, Timbre+

Yamashita Teppei – he of the affordably priced omakases, kaisen dons and kushiyaki sticks – replicates his Daidokoro ('Japanese kitchen') concept at the new Timbre+. Staples such as katsus, meaty Japanese curries and teppanyaki dishes are all served in bowls, but we say go for the yakitori don ($8.80) – sticks of meat brushed in a smoke-infused glossy lacquer of sauce and served over rice.

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One-North
Bingsu, $6.80
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
16/20

Bingsu, $6.80

At One Ice Cafe

It’s hot out, and it seems like it’s only going to get warmer. So chasing the current bingsu, or Korean shaved ice dessert, trend has its benefits. And why splash the cash for what is essentially ice kachang? One Ice Cafe has the most affordable bowls of bingsu on the island. Ranging from $6.80 to $8.80, its shaved ice bowls come in flavours like matcha, chocolate banana and peanut. Sure, its range of toppings might not be as elaborate as those from other joints, but the bowls still come in impressive mounds. Apart from a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with an Oreo cookie, the Oreo Bingsu ($6.80) has a thick bed of cookie crumble covering lightly flavoured shaved ice – any more condensed milk would be way too cloying. Grab a friend or two to help clean the bowl up.

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Jurong East
'Mini B' burrito, $7.90
17/20

'Mini B' burrito, $7.90

At Guzman Y Gomez

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. You can pimp out your burrito with add-ons such as guacamole ($1) and brown rice ($0.50), too.

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Marina Bay
Singapore-style ramen, $5.50
18/20

Singapore-style ramen, $5.50

At A Noodle Story

It’s got one of the longest queues at Amoy Street Food Centre, and for good reason. The ‘Singapore-style’ ramen the two young lads at this stall whip up is like a cross between wonton mee, mazesoba and magic. Over springy mee kia tossed with a moreish and slightly sweet chilli oil, they pile sous vide char siew, wontons, a potato-wrapped prawn, spring onion and an onsen egg.

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Tanjong Pagar
Seafood paella, $9
19/20

Seafood paella, $9

At Portico Platos, Timbre+

Available in two sizes – $9 and $16 – this never-mind-the-food-coma dish comes loaded with clams, mussels, prawns, octopuses and snapper, piled atop briny, paprika-spiked rice. Unlike in his flagship, Portico Prime, chef Nixon Low has no plans yet to feature on the menu here the seafood sourced from the waters off Ubin – but you can't have everything now, can you?

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One-North
Pasta, from $8
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
20/20

Pasta, from $8

At Ah Bong's Italian

Hawkers serving up pastas are not exactly hard to find these days, but Ah Bong’s Italian is probably the only one that boasts a chef who cut his teeth under a Michelin-starred chef. Chris Ng is an accountant-turned-cook who trained with Bruno Menard – his Tokyo restaurant L’Osier holds three stars – at his erstwhile La Cantine here in Singapore, and it shows in the plates Ng dishes out. The humble stall has no more than an ever-changing three pastas (each $8-$12) on offer each day, such as meat ragu, linguine with beef cheek and pork belly, and our favourite: the mac ’n’ cheese ($7), which is thick with Kurobuta bacon, mushroom and truffle oil.

Ah Bong's Italian at Tan Quee Lan Street offers set meals for $12.

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Outram Park

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Comments

1 comments
Catherine H
Catherine H

Disappointed to find out no Bahn Mi at the deli today, just horrible pseudo American rubbish- hot dogs etc