What a $10 note can get you at Tanjong Pagar for lunch – you may even have spare change for kopi

PHOTO: Instagram/makaipokesg, Instagram/ahlocknco

Those who work in the Central Business District (CBD) will understand the pain of having to source for affordable eats during lunch.

All the prices here seem to be on steroids and in the long run, these meals do add up to be quite expensive.

However, dining out in the CBD need not be a costly affair and there are some places that have wallet-friendly offerings which will keep you both satisfied and full.

With just a $10 note, we've sussed out good options that can even leave you with some spare change. 

Ah Lock & Co

Specialising in Hakka tofu rice bowls, Ah Lock & Co had humble beginnings at Yishun Park Hawker Centre before eventually moving to the basement of Tanjong Pagar Centre.

The eatery is run by a young hawker who creates dishes using his grandmother's yong tau foo recipe. Prices for the rice bowls here start from $7.80 and they also have a noodle option as well as min jiang kueh, which are all below $10.

Also, it is a pretty healthy option for those of you who want to watch your weight. Hence, a meal here will help kill two birds with one stone.

Opening Hours: Mon to Fri, 10am to 8pm

Sat & Sun, 10.30am to 6.30pm

Address: 7 Wallich Street, #B2 - 22 / 23 / 24, Singapore 078884

Kinobe

Founded in 2018 and located in the bustling Amoy Street Food Centre, Kinobe is run by two young hawkers who want to share their affordable donburi (Japanese rice bowl) with the CBD folks.

They started with just two dishes – Beef Don ($6) and Pork Don ($5) – but have since offered other options like Udon ($5) and Chicken Don ($5). If you want to feel boujee without breaking the $10 budget, they also have Wagyu Dons that cost $10 on the dot.

The best thing: they're located in a hawker centre. There is no GST or service charge, the price you see is what you pay.

Opening Hours: Mon to Fri, 11am to 3pm

Closed on Sat & Sun

Address: Amoy Street Food Centre, #02-126, 7 Maxwell Road, Singapore 069111

Hwa Ji Bak Kut Teh

Tired of your cold, freezer-like office? Get warm by having a soothing bowl of bak kut teh from Hwa Ji Bak Kut Teh along Cecil Street.

The stall first started out at Jurong Point's food court where it used to sell mixed organ soup. Then, they moved to Boon Tat street before finally settling down at their current location in the CBD.

They specialise in peppery Teochew-style bak kut teh – the basic bowl costs $7. If bak kut teh isn't your cup of tea, they also have other options like pig's stomach soup and loin meat soup that cost $7 too.

There's no GST or service charge either so you won't get a surprise when you get your bill.

Opening Hours: Mon to Fri, 7am to 7pm

Sat, 7am to 4pm

Closed on Sunday

Address: 141 Cecil St, #01-03 Tung Ann Association Building, Singapore 069541

Koryori Hayashi

Koryori Hayashi's young owner previously used to work at a Japanese restaurant before deciding to start something that he could call his own.

Together with his mother, the duo dish out wallet-friendly Japanese grub which are convenient yet delicious options for time-strapped office workers.

Some menu items below $10 include the Sukiyaki Beef Don ($8), Mentaiko Pasta ($7.50) and Chicken Katsu Don ($6.50) – these will definitely leave you with enough change to get a drink to complete the meal.

As the stall is located in a hawker centre, there is no GST or service charge either.

Opening Hours: Mon to Fri, 11am to 2pm

Closed on Saturday & Sunday

Address: 7 Maxwell Road, #01-11, Singapore 069111

Makai Poke

Hankering for sashimi but don't want to fork out a pretty penny to satisfy those cravings? Get your fix at Makai Poke and indulge in one of their poke bowls that are surprisingly reasonably priced, considering that they are, after all, located in the CBD area.

All their bowls are priced at just $9.90 and have four different toppings available – Makai Shoyu Salmon, Spicy Salmon, Yuzu Soy Ahi Tuna and Roasted Sesame Ahi Tuna – which are paired alongside a mix of fresh fruit and vegetables like pineapple, cherry tomatoes and avocado.

Despite being located in a mall, they do not have service charge or GST, which is surprising yet fantastic news for the thrifty office worker.

Opening Hours: Mon to Fri, 11am to 8.30pm

Sat & Sun: 10.30am to 3.30pm

Address: Tanjong Pagar Centre #B1-08, 7 Wallich Street Singapore 078884

Salmon Samurai

Opened by the same folks behind brands like Tanuki Raw, Standing Sushi Bar and The Secret Mermaid, Salmon Samurai is popular for their convenient, healthy yet pocket-friendly rice and noodle bowls.

The main ingredient in most of their dishes is, as their name says, salmon. They also have customisable bowls which are great for picky eaters.

Not feeling a bowl? They also have sushi options like the Warrior Maki which goes for just $9.90.

Opening Hours: Daily, 11am to 9pm

Address: 100 Tras Street, 01 - 11, Singapore 079027

Samurice

If you need something quick yet filling to just grab and go, pop over to Samurice which sells a variety of onigiri (Japanese rice ball).

Most ingredients are imported from different parts of Japan. The seaweed is harvested from Ariake Sea and the rice comes from Niigata.

Prices are kept reasonable too and a $10 note can get you about two to three sizeable pieces of onigiri with flavour options such as roasted salmon, teriyaki salmon and plum.

Apart from onigiri, they have a range of bento sets too, with some that cost $10 and less. 

Opening Hours: Mon to Fri, 10am to 4pm

Closed on Saturday and Sunday

Address: 7 Wallich St, #B1 - 07, Singapore 07888

Spice & Rice

Nasi Lemak may not be an uncommon dish in Singapore, but the ones here at Spice & Rice are a little extra special. They're made with a secret recipe that have been passed down for generations from the founder's family.

Just like how the stall is owned by three friends, there are only three items on their menu – Classic Nasi Lemak Fried Chicken, Butter Chicken and Vegetarian Nasi Lemak – which all cost $7.50 each.

It is a little on the pricier side for nasi lemak in a hawker centre setting, but this is justified by the generous portions that will definitely leave you with a full belly.

Opening Hours: Tue to Fri, 11am to 3pm

Sat & Sun: 9am to 3pm

Address: 7 Maxwell Road, #01-15, Amoy Street Food Centre, Singapore 069111

Sukhothai Boat Noodles

Tanjong Pagar is mostly packed with Japanese and Korean options so it's a welcome surprise to have a Thai option.  

Despite having a central location in Tanjong Pagar, Sukothai Boat Noodles can be easily missed. Founded by a couple that is passionate about Thai cuisine, they offer a range of Thai noodles, which includes boat noodles that are sold for $2 a bowl.

All you need is just five bowls to keep within your budget – while trying out a variety of boat noodles! 

Opening Hours: Daily, 12pm to 10pm

Closed on Monday

Address: 1 Tras Link, #01-07, Singapore 078867

melissateo@asiaone.com