Cheap & Good: Eateries in Singapore that serve up affordable and tasty meals

The weekend is here! Looking for quality dining options that won't cost a bomb? Need to satisfy some food craving without busting your budget?

From rich curry chicken noodles to flavourful Ayam Buah Keluak burgers, ST Life! writers share some eateries you can find in Singapore that offer cheap and good food.


1. Healthy, tasty bentos

By Foong Woei Wan

Chinese New Year feasting always starts early for me, in the weeks ahead of the festive season, when I try, stock up on and take stealthy bites of snacks.

This year though, the post-New Year detox began early for me too, after a friend found Good Food Heals, a weeks-old cafe that puts together gorgeous bentos (from $7.90): boxes packed with neat patchworks of vibrant colours and healthy ingredients from fermented, plum-tinged cherry tomatoes and beetroot apple slaw to sweet potato noodles and quinoa.

The cafe had me at quinoa, a fluffy, high-protein grain I love but don't often find on menus.

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2. Glorious golden curry

By Eunice Quek

After what seems like endless steamboat meals, yusheng and snacking during this Chinese New Year period, I've gone on a binge of spicy food.

So far, I've had tom yum soup, curry fish head, roti prata and laksa.

But what I really crave is some curry chicken.

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3. Longing for lontong

By Thng Lay Teen

It took a lacklustre lontong in Toa Payoh for me to recall the better version I had in Alif Restaurant in Bukit Batok not too long ago.

To satisfy my craving, I went to Bukit Batok two Saturdays ago at about 10.30am, in anticipation of a hearty breakfast. I was not disappointed.

The lontong ($3.50) was as good as I remembered. The gravy, which looked deceptively bland, had enough coconut milk for it to be creamy and a little runny, the way I like it.

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4. Bean curd shop knows its stuff

By Foong Woei Wan

When you first encounter a steaming bowl of stuffed bean curd from Bai Nian, a stall in Albert Centre, you might be mystified.

This is bean curd soup (from $4) that, as far as the eye can see, has no bean curd whatsoever. Instead, there is a whole lot of stuffing - sticks of minced pork and batons of minced prawn - alongside more traditional items such as a piece of stuffed bitter gourd and a bean curd skin-covered fishcake.

And you know what, it is wonderful.

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5. Scookie, anyone?

By Rebecca Lynne Tan

When a colleague told me about scones from the Caltex petrol station in Braddell Road near the office, I think I must have grimaced.

I will admit that I have eaten a chicken pie or more from petrol stations, but this was out of desperation rather than desire, although those pastries do have a way of hitting the spot when one is hungry.

But a petrol station scone? I wasn't sure that I'd be excited or willing to try that. Who knows how long they have been sitting there?

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6. Burgers to beat

By Eunice Quek

Sometimes, all I want is a hearty burger. But many options nowadays are either too dry or soggy and are way overpriced.

So my go-to place has been burger stall Hambaobao (Chinese for burger) in Beauty World Centre, which opened last September.

The menu is simple, with a choice of five burgers that cost no more than $5 each.

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7. Tasty ban mian

By Thng Lay Teen

During lunch on weekdays, you will see a middle-aged man furiously cooking four pots of ban mian simultaneously at a coffee shop facing Courts in Toa Payoh Central.

The orders keep coming and what I admire is how the hawker's daughter is so unflappable as she deals with the many, some not-so-patient, customers. She takes the order, collects money and delivers the food to your table.

I had originally ordered pork yee mee ($3.50) and wanted to change it to pork ban mian. She let me do it with nary a complaint.

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8. Savoury, spicy sardine puffs

By Foong Woei Wan

I pulled myself out of bed at 6.05am one day, my eyes still aching in protest, to grab breakfast with my brother.

He said I had to try a sardine puff from a Malay food stall in Jurong East, which sells so quickly it is usually all gone in about an hour, at around 7.30am.

When we arrived at the shop at about 6.40am, two plastic baskets at one side of the stall were still heaped high with potato and sardine puffs (50 cents each).

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9. Sour, spicy laksa

By Rebecca Lynne Tan

Satisfaction in a bowl best sums up the Penang Assam Laksa at Penang Kaki, a stall in Maxwell Food Centre.

You can tell that a stall is doing something right when Singapore-based Malaysian friends and family tell you that the laksa there is "not bad" or "a good attempt", especially since they hardly admit to anything here being authentic. When it comes to food, Malaysians are just as fussy a bunch of eaters as we are.

The assam laksa is a little more reddish and watery than other versions out there, but it's nothing to be alarmed about.

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10. Lor mee with a spicy kick

By Eunice Quek

The recent crowning of the annual Singapore Hawker Masters - a hawker hunt organised by The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao - left me craving lor mee, one of the categories in this year's search.

Unfortunately, the winning stall, Yuan Chun Famous Lor Mee, is in Amoy Street Food Centre, which is being renovated. I'll have to wait until March.

So I go to a worthy substitute, Keng Heng (Whampoa) Teochew Lor Mee at Golden Mile Food Centre.

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11. Delightful curry noodles

By Thng Lay Teen

Chicken chop and curry noodles seem an odd pairing. That was what a colleague thought when I asked her to go to Hong Lim Food Market & Food Centre to check it out with me.

That was what I thought too initially when I stumbled on the offering at Cantonese Delights recently.

I had gone to Hong Lim to satisfying my craving for the roast pork ribs at Lee Kheong Roasted Delicacy, which I wrote about in this column last month. Unfortunately, it was closed on a Wednesday when it should have been open. (It is normally closed on Monday).

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12. Pasta done light

By Foong Woei Wan

Pasta, so prevalent in coffee shops, is the kind of Western comfort food Singaporeans get. It is a distant cousin of egg and rice noodles that are staples here, and is such a warming choice during the rainy season.

Ah Bong's Italian, a stall in a coffee shop in Tiong Bahru, comes as a surprise though.

The food is clean, fresh and understated, more refined than the usual coffee shop fare, less rarefied than restaurant offerings.

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