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Tastemakers Guide to Bugis Under $15

Tastemakers Guide to Bugis Under $15

We're kicking off our very first Burpple Tastemaker-powered guide in one of our favourite haunts — Bugis! Every place on this guide comes highly recommended by our Tastemakers. From sharing authentic Thai food on Tan Quee Lan street with your friends, snacking on pan-fried dumplings in Bugis Village or taking away Indonesian pancakes in Bugis Cube for your colleagues, there's plenty to eat and explore. The bonus? All places featured will cost you under $15! Go forth and feast joyfully — your tummy and wallet will thank you later!
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This unassuming store in the basement coffeeshop of Sim Lim Square is where we would head to on a cool day. Quan Co Ba serves familiar Vietnamese dishes like their signature Mixed Beef Kway Teow ($6) — a true belly-warmer chock full of thinly sliced beef, meatballs and slippery rice noodles. For Burpple Tastemaker Jason Wong, it's the Stewed Beef ($6) that hit the sweet spot. There's an option to get noodles, rice or bread with it, and he recommends ordering the noodle soup version. Slippery rice vermicelli noodles soaked in a sweet and fragrant beef broth "whose spice gradually creeps up on you, culminating in a tongue tingingly pleasant fireness in the mouth". If rice rolls are your jam, Tastemaker Jason implores you to try the Vietnamese Ham Rice Roll ($6) — a variant of the usual rice spring rolls that features thin, delicate rice sheets topped with bouncy Vietnamese sausage and fried shallots. He explains while the dish is typically eaten for breakfast, he could have it at any time of the day!
Avg Price: $10 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Jason Wong

The first place that would probably pop into any Burpple Tastemaker's mind when you mention Bugis would be Ah Bong's Italian, purely because the food is hearty and the prices affordable. It looks small from the outside, and it's almost always packed, but there are additional outdoor tables to accommodate bigger groups. Come with your carb-loving friends and plan to eat chef-owner Chris's amazing pastas like the Fresh Pesto ($12) and the signature Birthday Pasta ($9). The latter, described in Burpple Tastemaker Russell Leong's words, features "roasted broccoli pesto that is earthy, hearty and bursting with fantastic flavor". If you're a regular patron here, or "superfans", as Chef Chris calls the Burpple Tastemakers, you'll find yourself sampling his experimental dishes pretty often, like the Almost There Pork Belly ($12) that comes with melt-in-the-mouth fat and perfectly crackling skin — a dish that has been in the works since last July. Pro tip: Swing by at lunch to enjoy any pasta, a drink and a small dessert at only $12!
Avg Price: $15 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Russell Leong

This hole-in-a-wall zi char stall on the second floor of Sim Lim Square is a popular lunch spot for students and office workers in the area. Despite being probably the best salted egg chicken rice dish out there, it doesn't get much coverage on social media. That's good for you, because you don't have to fight the crowds to order their signature Salted Egg Chicken Rice ($5). While you might be tempted to go with the pork, this is the one place you should opt for chicken — it is far more tender and soaks up the salted egg sauce very well. Burpple Tastemaker Xing Wei Chua loves how the dish is served in a mini metal wok, "drenched in a creamy flavourful sauce, and that the chicken chunks are completely covered with salted egg goodness". Complete your meal with an addition of a runny sunny-side up egg ($0.50). There are two adjacent stalls solely dedicated for seating, but to secure a seat fast, we recommend coming in a small party — some to reserve the seats while the others order.
Avg Price: $10 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Xing Wei Chua

This new kid on the block has gotten our Burpple Tastemakers excited. Located on Tan Quee Lan Street and steps away from Ah Loy Thai, Kinmoo dishes out tasty bowls of Boat Noodles. Unlike other places where smaller portions of boat noodles reign supreme, the bowls at Kinmoo can easily satisfy a hungry belly. If it's your first time trying Boat Noodles, take it from Burpple Tastemaker Zhihui Lim and order the Baamee Haeng Tom Yum ($7.50) — a hearty portion of dry tomyum noodles with minced meat, eggs, cubes of pork lard, pig intestines and thick slabs of liver. Mix it well and toss in some crushed peanuts for extra nutty fragrance! If you're not too keen on having noodles, be like Burpple Tastemaker Russell Leong and order the Khaw Kha Moo ($7.90). The humble dish features unbelievably tender braised pork knuckles set on a hill of rice, served with a hard-boiled egg and vegetables on the side. It's delightfully moreish and that extra drizzle of stellar sauce on top of your rice comes highly recommended. Be sure to have this all with their addictively good chili sauce. Then, wash it all down with a cup of refreshing Thai Milk Tea ($3.50)!
Avg Price: $10 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Zhihui Lim

Also hidden in Bugis Cube is this Indonesian-owned dessert shop that is every sweet tooth's dream. Pancake Boss Martabak Manis serves freshly-baked pancakes called "martabaks", similar to the all familiar min chiang kueh. Other than the usual peanut filling, the pancakes can also be filled with other sugary treats like choco rice, Smarties and matcha Kit Kat. They are sold as a whole pancake (20cm long) which can feed three comfortably, so take this away to share with colleagues over tea. There are over 20 combinations to choose from, including the Red Robin ($14.80), red velvet base with lemon cream cheese and Oreos, and the Pancake Boss Special ($9.50) that comes with Ovomaltine and bananas. If it's your first time here like Burpple Tastemaker Jean Kao, go for the Boss Combo ($9.90). It's filled with crushed peanuts, choco rice and grated martabak cheese. According to Tastemaker Jean, the martabak cheese, a type of processed cheddar made by Kraft Foods that is unique to Indonesia, had her colleagues raving non-stop! Each order is made on the spot, so be prepared to wait.
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Jean Kao

Office workers in Bugis looking for a new dining option will want to note this down. The second outlet of the famed Lucky Plaza Yong Tau Foo is tucked away on the second floor of Bugis Cube, and sports a shorter queue (for now). It's well known for its incredibly low prices and unique Yong Tau Foo ingredients like Korean mushrooms and fried meatballs. While many Burpplers love having their YTF dry, allow yourself some indulgence and go for the Curry Laksa. According to Burpple Tastemaker Jean Kao, it's less lemak than laksa and has a tinge of hae bi hiam flavour in it. When picking out Yong Tau Foo ($0.60 per piece, minimum eight pieces), don't miss out on the delightfully juicy Korean mushrooms. Everyone, including Tastemaker Jean, insists on having at least one of it in their meal because "they become so plump after soaking, so biting into them is a delight". Be sure to add a spoonful of their homemade belachan chilli and fried shallots for a spicy kick!
Avg Price: $10 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Jean Kao

Located on the third floor of Bugis Cube, this tiny ramen-ya dishes out affordable, hearty bowls of noodles and rice. Seating is limited, so come with a small party. Instead of having a waiter attend to you, the store employs a self-service approach, where you can customise your ramen from its flavour to the add-ons using tabs. To complete the ordering process, bring your desired tabs to the cashier and make payment. They have an extensive menu with six options including spicy miso, tom yum and even a cheese truffle ramen. The choice pick, however, is the Shoyu Ramen ($11) that Burpple Tastemaker Vanessa Kou enjoys. The soy-based ramen has just the right amount of salt and oil, and comes topped with grilled meat, hanjuku egg, seaweed and a side of crispy deep-fried enoki mushrooms. For Vanessa, the highlight of the bowl was the "sliced grilled meat as the nicely charred exterior complemented the tender bits of fats, and was melt-in-your-mouth good".
Avg Price: $15 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Vanessa Kou

Bugis-goers have long been making the pilgrimage down to Shaw Towers for a taste of Ah Loy Thai's excellent dishes. The restaurant has since shifted into its newer and bigger digs along Tan Quee Lan Street, making this a top choice for a large group gathering. Here, the Thai Lemon Steamed Fish ($17) is a dish worthy of acclaim. In Burpple Tastemaker ni eat's words, the Thai Lemon Steamed Fish lemon sauce "gives you a bam of sourness but in a soothingly shiok way". It's spicy, zesty and sweet — the kind you'd want to drizzle over your rice, or slurp up like soup. You'd want to load your table with other Thai dishes too, like the tender and crisp Garlic Pork ($9.40) and Tom Yum Goong ($8.90 for seafood). The latter has a perfect blend of spicy and sour that spice-loving Singaporeans will enjoy. Quash the heat with a cup of refreshing Thai iced tea ($2.50).
Avg Price: $10 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Ni Eats

At the corner of Beach Road and Purvis Street lies this quaint bakery cum coffeeshop. YY Kafei Dian is not just a pro when it comes to fluffy buns, they also knows their way around classic Hainanese dishes like chicken rice and chicken chop. Start your day with a cup of Coffee ($1.30) and be sure to stick around to get your hands on the freshly baked buns ($1.20) that Burpple Tastemaker Fabian Poon describes as "soft pillowy kaya buns with a slight crisp on the exterior". The buns are held together by a generous slather of brown kaya and a slab of butter in the middle, and they are available all day, so you can pop by for a midday snack too. Come lunchtime, the space teems with office workers looking for a hearty meal. It's best to come with a group of colleagues so you can share more items, especially the value-for-money Claypot E-fu Noodles ($5.50). The portion is just right for one person, but we recommend sharing it and drizzling the lusciously rich sauce over the rice instead. Also worth ordering is their fragrant Coffee Flavored Pork Ribs (from $9).
Avg Price: $10 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Fabian Poon

Fans of Neil Road's Jing Hua Xiao Chi can get their homemade dumplings, zha jiang noodles and crispy red bean pancake fix at this outlet along Bugis Village, with a shorter waiting time too. No matter what dishes you're eyeing, be sure to start with an order of their signature Pan Fried Pork and Seafood Dumplings ($8 for 10 pieces). It's the star attraction for Burpple Tastemaker Sheryl Lyx — crispy skin stuffed with a generous filling of chives and minced pork that "breaks apart to release a good amount of porky essence (think XLB soup within the dumpling)". Apart from dumplings, the Chinese Pizza ($11) packed with well-seasoned minced meat and wrapped in a crispy yet crumbly crust is great for sharing in a group. End your meal on a sweet note with their signature dessert — Crispy Red Bean Pancake ($10). It's crispy on the outside, mochi-like in the middle and packed with sweet red bean filling.
Avg Price: $15 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Sheryl Lyx

The sheer variety of offerings in this upmarket food hall in Shaw Towers makes it a suitable location for many dining situations, be it brunch in town, workday lunch or most importantly, large group dinner gatherings with affordable Draft Denmark Fresh Lager ($5)! Apart from local hawker fare like Carrot Cake ($3) and Chicken Chop Rice ($6.50) as well as upscale dishes like French Duck Confit ($14.90), there are other unique offerings too. Burpple Tastemaker Jason Wong had the Egg Appam ($3.80) from The Ceylonese Affair, a stall that specialises in all things Sri Lankan. While the ones he had in Sri Lanka were neutral in flavour and served with a spicy condiment on the side, the version at The Ceylonese Affair offers a variety of sweet and savoury fillings, including peanut butter, chocolate and cheese. Follow Tastemaker Jason's lead and opt for the egg, which comes with a dash of black pepper on top and orange sugar on the side. He adds that while the practice of adding sugar to a savoury dish might seem strange at first, it sure tastes pretty good!
Avg Price: $10 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Jason Wong

Located on the third floor of Fortune Centre, this shop selling tasty and affordable Japanese dishes is a popular lunch stop for many working or studying in the area. Burpple Tastemaker Amanda Liu adores the Salmon Mentai Don ($10) that comes with "generous slices of salmon and mentaiko lightly torched over a bed of Japanese rice", perfect for a quick lunch. Portions run small, but you can either upsize the bowl ($12) or fill up on other satisfying items. Order the wildly addictive Salmon Kama Karaage ($6) to share with a friend — the dish sees uncommonly used parts of the fish such as the fin. Alternatively, have the consistently good Pork Katsu Curry Rice ($7), one of the five varieties of curry available.The golden fried cutlet is placed atop a heap of rice with curry sauce on the side, so you can choose to either smother or dip.
Avg Price: $10 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Amanda Liu

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