We’re constantly hearing rants about how expensive it is to survive in Singapore – much less enjoy a good meal out.
But here’s solid proof that it’s still possible for two people to get a three-course dinner at a mid-range to an upscale restaurant for less than $50 nett each.
Here are 10 amazing Asian restaurants to dine out on the cheap (or check out the budget Western restaurants we found, too!).
*Covid update: Remember to check ahead to make your bookings at these restos! Also, let’s keep group gatherings to a maximum of 5 people, shall we? Mask up, practice social distancing, and embrace the new normal.
1. Sum Yi Tai
This modern Chinese tapas bar serves things such as crispy salmon skin ($12) coated with salted egg and a touch of lime zest for acidity, alongside more traditional dishes such as the Chinese Sausages & Preserved Meat Clay Pot Rice ($26)
To share as a good main dish is the Singapore fried rice ($24) where the “secret” ingredient is the addition of curry powder to the mix of prawns and char siew.
If you’re feeling a little spicy, try their signature Lucky Mee ($14), original curry mee from Ipoh – note: Limited portions served per day!
It’s a heavier meal than it sounds, so to end off, you could get a simple chilled lemongrass jelly with mixed fruits ($6) as a light dessert to refresh your palate before you leave.
Sum Yi Tai, 25 Boon Tat St., 069622
Mitzo’s signature barbecued pork ($18) is a must-try: The pork belly is tender, unctuous goodness that’s a touch fattier than your typical char siew, and crusted with torched, caramelised sugar which adds smokiness and a lovely crunch for contrast.
Also good to share for two: The dim sum platter ($28), consisting of 3 pairs of steamed dumplings: Royal Shrimp Dumpling with Caviar, Shrimp and Pork Dumpling with Baby Abalone, and Steamed Dumpling with Shrimp, Scallop and Sea Urchin.
Their stir fried udon ($24) is a the hearty serving with a sizeable portion of roast duck and is suffused with wok hei (breath of a wok).
Mitzo, Level 4 Grand Park, 270 Orchard Rd., 238857
3. Blue Lotus Chinese Eating House
Having a meal at Sentosa doesn’t always have to be a costly affair, especially if you do it family-style at Chinese restaurant Blue Lotus.
The ever-popular Sweet & Sour Pork ($28) features pork belly double-fried and served with lychees, onions, and peppers. The Szechuan Gong Bao King Prawns ($32) are a good option too, since they are sweet and cooked to a crunchy texture.
To complete the meal, get a bowl of Steamed Brown Rice ($2) to go along with your dishes, and you’re good to go.
Blue Lotus Chinese Eating House, #01-13 Quayside Isle, 31 Ocean Way, 098375
4. Fat Saigon Boy
A tapas and a main are enough to fill you up, and to that end, we recommend the soft shell crab sliders ($10 for two), with a crispy enough tempura batter and a lime chilli sauce that gives the deep-fried treat some much needed lift.
For $15, you can pick from a selection of pho or rice bowls, but go for for the signature grilled lemongrass pork with vermicelli, which is smoky and juicy.
Fat Saigon Boy, 2 Science Park Dr., 118222
5. Jiang-Nan Chun
Start with an assortment of dim sums for lunch. Try the Steamed Pork Dumpling With Baby Abalone ($9), Crispy Puff Pastry with Black Pepper Beef ($3), Crispy Silky Turnip Pastry with Dried Shrimps and Ham ($3), or Steamed Pork and Shrimp Dumpling in Chilli Oil and Coriander ($3).
Followed by their signature Fried Rice with Minced Wagyu Beef in X.O. Chilli Sauce ($14). Finish the meal with a serving of crispy egg noodles with slow cooked beef cheek ($18).
Jiang-Nan Chun, Level 2, Four Seasons Hotel, 190 Orchard Blvd, 248646
6. Uma Uma Ramen
While Uma Uma Ramen at Forum The Shopping Mall serves mostly ramen, its second outlet at Millenia Walk comes with an expanded menu, one that also includes yakitori and kukshikatsu or deep fried breaded skewers.
With prices for the ramen from $15 to $17, so you defo can eat lots and not bust the budget. From the ramen selection, go for the Mazesoba ($17), a dry-style ramen with bamboo shoots, leeks, chilli oil and an onsen egg.
Uma Uma Ramen, Forum The Shopping Mall, #01-41, 583 Orchard Rd., 238884
7. Joo Bar
With its dark walls and high bar stools, this thoroughly modern Korean restaurant looks nothing like a typical Korean family eatery.
Must-tries include the crispy Tofu Chips served with a guacamole and a kimchi salsa dip ($14), and the sweet and spicy Dak Kang Jung ($18) – deep-fried chicken tenders with gochujang or red chilli paste, and chopped nuts.
Joo Bar, 5 Tan Quee Lan St., 188094
8. Jiu Zhuang
Start your meal with its Double Boiled Soup with wonton dumplings and dried scallops in superior broth ($18), which is light with an intense umami flavour.
The dumplings – filled with minced pork and blended with malt whisky – are flawlessly executed but may taste alien to more purist tastes. Enjoy them with a side of Scallion La mian ($8) – al dente with a very tasty sauce.
For more variety, you could also try the Tofu with Century Egg and Crabmeat ($14) and Salted Egg Custard Bun ($8).
Jiu Zhuang, 6D Dempsey Rd., 247664
9. Min Jiang
Helming the kitchen of Min Jiang for almost 10 years is Master Chef Chan Hwan Kee. He has honed his skills in Cantonese and Sichuan cuisines, captivating diners with inspired flavour combinations and renditions of classics.
Rest assured, his dishes will please both the palate and the senses. Try hand-made dim sum – the Steamed Pumpkin Ball ($6 for three pieces), Deep-fried Homemade Squid Tofu with XO Sauce ($7.80 for three pieces) – or the signature, Honey-glazed Barbecued Ibérico Pork ($28), for a decadent surprise.
Min Jiang, 22 Scotts Rd., Goodwood Park Hotel, 228221
This article was first published in The Finder.