Extra-Value Meals: Where To Eat Well For Less In Singapore
STORY: Annette Tan
23 September 2022
“Everything now so expensive, leh,” said every aunty at the wet market this week. And they are right. The cost of living is skyrocketing no thanks to higher food, fuel and labour costs driven by factors like inflation, the war on Ukraine, and manpower shortages. We don’t know about you, but we find it’s getting harder and harder to stretch our hard-earned dollars even as we take advantage of our parents’ Pioneer Generation discount at FairPrice on Mondays and Wednesdays.
But there is hope yet. Because, what do Singaporeans love more than anything? (Okay, besides complaining?) Eating, lor. And if there is anything our nation does well, it is making good food accessible. Despite today’s rising costs, there are yummy, extra-value delights to be found in our trusty hawker centres and beyond. Here are eight of them:
$8 for wantan mee is not say cheap, but it’s truffle-flavoured ok? There’s always a long queue at this stall during peak hours, but the noods here are worth the wait. All the elements of the wantan mee – char siew, lard, noodles, sauce – are really tasty. Even if you’re not convinced by the addition of truffle oil, the regular wantan mee is fab for $5. They also sell a DIY kit ($45, makes 10 servings) if you want to make it yourself at home.
At his Vietnamese grill and hotpot restaurant, a group of friends can eat for as little as $9.50 per person. The Hot Pot Platter ($38), laden with lala, prawns, sliced beef, squid, vegetables and thick bee hoon, accompanies a pot of zesty tom yam soup base. Khoi, which means “grill” in Vietnamese is another option. With the Khoi Combo #4 ($48), you get marinated pork skewers, beef tenderloin, enoki wrapped in pork belly, black pepper chicken wings, octopus with chilli, and three sauces, all of which can easily be shared between three or four people. It opens daily from 3.30pm to 3am, which means it’s an excellent late-night option for when you’ve spent most of your money on drinks.
For years, Saveur has made atas French food affordable for the masses. You could get a whole roasted free-range chicken that’s large enough to be shared between two to three people for $68, complete with truffle mashed potatoes, baby carrots and forest mushrooms. A three-course meal that includes appetisers like escargots and pate de Campagne (country-style pork pate); mains such as duck leg confit; and desserts like chocolate mousse or strawberries with lychee sorbet go for $54++. The portions are generous and the food rich, which means your hearts and bellies will be full long after your meal.
Sol & Luna High Tea
High tea in a fancy space for just $28 per person? Ya better believe it. At urban garden bistro Sol & Luna, located in CapitaSpring’s Green Oasis, you get a free flow of black coffee or tea and a lovely assortment of savouries like mini ham and Gruyere croissants, breaded mushrooms with chipotle aioli, and crab vol-au-vent. On the tray of sweets are the likes of Ispahan tart, lavender madeleines, vanilla caneles, and chestnut mandarin mont blanc. Available between 3pm and 5pm daily, it is a chance to sit back and savour a languid afternoon like a tai tai without having to worry about your lack of allowance.
$15 for a sandwich doesn’t sound particularly affordable, until you realise that this generously buttered toasted sandwich is packed with A5 wagyu, considered to be extremely high-grade beef and which restaurants charge a lot more for. Have yours with lots of melty cheddar and mop up all the drippings with the accompanying tater tots. As its name implies, Syohachi Wagyu Hamburg also makes affordable, hefty A5 wagyu hamburgers that start from $16.
A bowl of airy and crisp tempura prawn, fish, squid, pumpkin and French beans over perfectly cooked Japanese rice for just $9.80? We’re in! At Tempura Tendon Tenya, a special air fryer and conveyor belt contraption work together to churn out consistently impeccable tempura while minimising the need for physical manpower. The resulting cost savings are transferred to the consumer who still gets an excellent and excellent-value meal. Win-win!
This restaurant promises they charge only the true cost of the ingredients in every dish that it offers. For example, a plate of yellowtail crudo with olive tapenade and green chillies costs just $7.65 compared to the market price of about $22. Beef cheek with pea puree goes for $12.75 rather than the more-than-$30 you might pay elsewhere. And where else can you get a glass of wine for $5? Rather than mark up the price of its dishes, True Cost Singapore charges a cover charge of $5 for lunch, and $10 for dinner. This fee is waived if you come between 3pm and 5pm or 9pm and 10pm. The food quality and setting punch way above their price tags’ weight, making this a great place to come for a special occasion.
Inflation is democratic in that it spares no one, not even the hawkers and restaurateurs who make our food. Raising prices are inevitable when faced with the skyrocketing cost of ingredients and energy. But the owner of Yanji Seafood Soup has chosen to retain the price of one of his classic dishes: the Dory Seafood Soup with slices of dory, prawns and minced pork. It remains at $7.50 as a way to thank loyal customers for their support and encourage new ones to visit his stalls at 209 New Upper Changi Road and Marsiling Mall Hawker Centre. Founded in 1983, Yanji Seafood is known for its flavourful soups that are brewed over six hours. Nourishment for the heart and soul.