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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cheap Eats in Orchard

Orchard Road is the city's center and is the place for a shopping quick fix. Despite an entire stretch of malls from low-end to high, with Singapore's increasing standard of living, it is difficult to find cheap food.

Hawker centers (food courts) typically serve meals for less than $10 in Orchard but they are medicore. Here're my to-go for cheap AND GOOD food in Orchard.  

1) Wasabei Tei
Many on this list are found at Far East Plaza. It used to be a teenager's after-school location but in recent years, traffic have drastically dropped as teenagers take their shopping online. However, it remains my favourite place to shop as well as eat because of its affordable prices. 

Wasabei Tei's shahimi (raw fish) is air-flown in from Japan. It feels like you're in one of those authentic Japan stores when it's cramp and only counter seats are available. The owners' attitude have been known to be bad (as with all good food places because they can't give a damn) but have improved considerably since I first patronized it.
$2 is charged per seat regardless if you want a drink, an appetizer or a slice of watermelon. Every seat must place an order and the appetizer of warm seaweed and stewed chicken is worth the mandarory charge. No GST, quality Japanese food and a cosy ambience, Wasabi Tei is highly recommended. Try their sorbets too! They have seasonal flavours. They recently opened up space next door so there isn't quite a long queue as before. 

2) Hainanese Chicken Rice
A local favourite, this shop at the upper floor of Far East Plaza gives a rustic feeling with its bustling order calls. Not a place to idle after meal as strangers could be seated at your table. Not to worry, they don't share your food. Their menu stays focused and only offers rice, chicken and oyster sauce vegetables. They serve soups like Salted Duck Veg in old-fashioned tin containers at $3 to go along. 

3) Saveur

I never could make it into their other outlet at Purvis St but since they opened a new one next to KFC at Far East Plaza, i've been in it twice! If you want a seat, lunch is a better bet than dinner. Otherwise, aim for an early dinner at 5.30-6pm. The last time i ate was at 8.45pm and i had to wait 10 minutes for a table, and the restaurant was still bustling with diners. The last order is at 9.30pm. 

If you have always heard of foie gras but never tried it because you aren't sure if the price is worth paying for (what if you don't like it?) , Saveur is the place to take  your foie gras virginity. 

Bite sized foie gras grilled to perfection with a drizzle of cranberry sauce is only $6.90. The simple saveur pasta is delicious and priced at $4.90 as an appetizer, $6.90 as a main. The interior is nicely decorated, everyone i brought is throughly impressed with its deceiving interior but cheap prices for French fare. 
We could even afford to have 2 glasses of wine, and the total bill is $40!

3) Sakura Halal Thai
Serves affordable Thai fare. It has individual meals as well as tze char style. It is my go-to if i don't want to queue for a table as it occupies a rather large space (with an overflow room) at the top level of Far East Plaza. Don't let the sight of the lack of diners deter, my favourites are Tom Yum or salted fish fried rice, otherwise spicy mee goreng. They could do with lesser oil though. 
4) Nam Nam
When it first arrived in Singapore at Wheelock, i never had to queue. I liked the no-frills Vietnamese fast food vibe where i could sit at the bar counter, slurp my pho alone and let my eyes glaze, mesmerized by the red lanterns above. Since then, Nam Nam have expanded to many more outlets across the island, gaining quick popularity and extending their menu offering. If you would like to queue, it is quick, cheap and good pho in Orchard. The only gripe i have is they do not include a generous serving of beansprouts in their pho anymore, making it less value for money. 

5) Ayam Penyat Ria
There are a dozen of the same in Lucky Plaza, but i always go to this one where its chilli accompanying the Penyat is the deal breaker. 

Although certain elements of the dish look measly, when together, they make a good serving of chicken, kangkong, toufu and soy bean squares. 

This is a sinful indulgence because everything is fried, but it makes me feel better than KFC (some strands of vegetable makes the difference).
6) Sanpoutei Niigataa Ramen
Expecting queues to form soon enough at this new kid on the block, the latest ramen shop at the basement of Lido (next to Isetan) is made with a difference. Ikan bilis added to broiled chicken compared to the usual pork ramen broth. It tastes unique and instead of the usual char siew, each bowl is topped with two slices ot three-layered fatty pork. The decadent meat melted in my mouth, fat glistening on my lips. They also have atypical ramen ingredients, a generous serving of stir-fry cabbage.

7) Shaw Center Food Court
If you hate queues with a vengeance like i do, this newly opened food court at Lido is my latest secret. I always find a seat here. Sergeant Chicken serves fragrant rice that is not too oily and tender moist chicken. Like Bimbimbap but want it customized? Pick and choose at the Korean "tze char style" stall. Further in, you'll find Teppanyaki that is value-for-money. A slightly more posh experience in a food court, you sit at the countertop for a interactive cooking experience. Your orders come with an attempt at food presentation too.

A video posted by Christine Ng (@chrispytine) on

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