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Cheap Food in Orchard Exists – 7 Best Places for a Meal Under $7

cheap food in orchard

Clara Lim

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Let’s be real here: Orchard Road can be a major financial black hole when it comes to food (as with everything else). Even McDonald’s actually costs more at their Orchard outlets, which is morally outrageous considering how much money their islandwide operations make.

If you’re visiting Orchard once in a while to shop, that’s totally fine, but people who work in the retail or service line in Orchard cannot possibly eat Hai Di Lao every day, right?

Having worked in Orchard Road before, I have perforce found several places where you can get lunch for about $5 to $7. It won’t be Michelin-standard, but it’s better than bringing oatmeal to 7-Eleven and sneakily filling it with hot water while no one is looking (true story).

 

Lucky Plaza – cheap local food galore

Probably the best place to go on Orchard Road for affordable food under $10. I usually make a beeline straight for Filipino food at Inasal or nasi padang at Sari Ratu.

But if you’re on a tighter budget, head straight to the “Asian Food Mall” food court in the basement. While food courts on Orchard Road are inflated as hell, this gem is significantly cheaper.

There’s still a slight markup — for example, a bowl of noodles can cost $4.50 instead of the usual $3 at a heartland hawker centre — but it’s still some of the cheapest food you can get along the strip.

If you’re in the mood to explore, Lucky Plaza’s numerous alleys and corners are peppered with cheap eateries like Lucky Chicken Rice, Alfa Fish Soup and My Favourite Cafe (yong tau foo). They’re usually quite packed with office workers and retail staff at lunch on weekdays.

 

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Orchard Towers – cheap nasi padang

Try telling your colleagues that you’re going to Orchard Towers for lunch, and you’ll be the butt of many a ribald joke. 

But the joke’s on them, because it’s one of the few places you can get cheap food in town. The obvious one is Thai Tantric, but it’s a bit pricey — expect to spend at least $10 to $15 here.

Instead, go to the basement where you can have good clean fun at Chopstix & Rice, a restaurant selling Chinese-ified nasi padang.

 

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The display is a literal WALL of food, with heap upon heap of identifiable and unidentifiable ingredients swimming in different colours of sambals and curries. Since it’s cai png style and therefore difficult to predict prices, it’s best to avoid the meats and seafood to keep costs low.

 

Cold Storage @ Takashimaya – cheap sushi

Everyone knows that Cold Storage sells some of the cheapest sushi in town, but the outlet at Ngee Ann City’s basement is even better: It has a tiny sushi counter where so you can dine-in at supermarket prices.

 

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This was my favourite place to go for dinner whenever I ended work late after 8pm, because that’s when the staff start putting discount stickers on the items.

During this time, if you keep your selection basic, you should be able to score a filling meal here for well under $10. Plus, you get free green tea when you dine in. If you want to splurge, you can even purchase a hot miso soup or a grilled/fried item (e.g. croquette) to go with your sushi. #YOLO

By the way, the Isetan supermarket over at Shaw House also has the same practice of discounting their sushi near closing time, but it’s more expensive. 

 

Cuppage Plaza – halal zi char

Orchard Road rule of thumb: If the shopping mall has the word “Plaza” in the name, it probably has cheap food. 

There’s Lucky Plaza (as discussed above) and Far East Plaza (getting expensive now), but my favourite plaza to go to is Cuppage Plaza over at Somerset. 

My usual haunt is the halal zi char place right next to the main entrance, called Selera Cuppage. You can get a simple one-dish meal like fried kuay teow for about $6 — not too shabby for something freshly cooked to order.

 

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The ground floor also has a few other cheap food options, such as Isle Cafe (cai png) and Orchard Yong Tau Foo.

Otherwise, Cuppage Plaza is better known for their KTVs and no-frills Japanese eateries like Izakaya Nijumaru and Gyoza no Ohsho, which would set you back $15 to $20 per pax. (The food, not the KTVs.)

 

Al Madinah Restaurant – prata shop in Orchard 

Just across the lane (Koek Road) from Cuppage Plaza is Al Madinah Restaurant, which has an eternal place in my heart for being the sole prata shop along the Orchard strip. 

 

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It’s my favourite place for a quick break in the middle of the afternoon (or morning or night, since it’s 24 hours). Come here and drink some teh halia, and you’ll instantly forget you’re in the most toxic and grossly materialistic part of Singapore.

The food is actually pretty good, especially considering they don’t really have to try since there’s no competition!

Prices are pretty standard with most pratas costing less than $2, even the fancier ones like plaster prata. I also really like the Indian cai png here and it’s always cost me about $5 for a big plate of rice and curry dishes.

 

Concorde Hotel – Kim Dae Mun Korean Food

Shabby little Concorde Hotel once had a food court on the ground floor that was a haven of cheap meals, but it’s sadly no more.

One of the stalls I remember from the old food court was the Korean stall, and it appears that they’ve taken up residence here and reincarnated as an actual canteen-style restaurant called Kim Dae Mun.

 

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The cheapest meal here used to be the $5.50 ramen, but I’m not sure if they still have it on the menu. 

Most of the menu items are of the [hot plate / soup] + [rice] + [sides] variety, and each set meal costs from $8 to about $10, slightly over budget but still very reasonable for Orchard Road food.

 

The original Killiney Kopitiam 

 

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Long before Killiney Kopitiam became a shiny franchise and started selling overpriced kaya toast, there was the original “67 Killiney Kopitiam” along Killiney Road, a short walk from Orchard Central.

I’m 99% sure this is the original management, not just because they have a vintage laminated A4 paper menu, but mainly because the walls are plastered with embarrassing Dad jokes in Comic Sans.

If your delicate sensibilities are triggered by sexist “wife” jokes, definitely don’t come here, but I just ignore them in favour of the cheap food: Less than $5 a bowl for mee rebus, laksa and mee siam, and under $7 for curry chicken + carb.

My favourite item, though, is the French loaf kaya toast. It costs $2.50 per portion and I have legit considered just eating two portions for lunch, which is nutritionally unsound but so good.

 

Honorable mentions: Other options for cheap food in Orchard

As a general rule it’s best to avoid the popular shopping malls along Orchard Road, where the food options consist of (i) expensive and not very good restaurants and (ii) offensively overpriced food courts.

But there are a few notable exceptions which I’d like to mention here.

[email protected]: Surprisingly, there are few cheap food options down at B3, like Encik Tan, Riverside BBQ and Subway. You have to brave the congregations of broke students who hang out here 24/7, though.

Orchard Gateway/Central: I can’t tell the difference between these 2 malls and neither can you, probably, but you know which shopping area I’m talking about right? The 3 go-to places for cheap food here are Tori-Q, Don Don Donki and Saizeriya. Donki is particularly good for late dinners because the ready-to-eat bentos and donburi go on sale at night.

Far East Plaza: I remember having really cheap and good meals on FEP Level 5 (there’s a cluster of unpretentious eateries here, e.g. Hainanese Delicacy) but it seems that prices have gone up and are now closer to $10 a meal.

Let’s EAT (Ion Orchard & Centrepoint): I usually steer clear of food courts in shopping malls, but sometimes you just have no choice. Avoid the overhyped chains like Food Republic and stick to the mini food court Let’s EAT instead; the food isn’t fantastic but at least there are actually options under $5 here.

Do you have a go-to place for cheap food in Orchard? Share it with us in the comments!

 

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Clara Lim

I used to be MoneyDumb. I hung out at H&M every day and thought that a $50 lunch set was a good deal. These days, I spend my time researching the crap out of life and trying to maximise utility on micro-decisions. I'm not sure if that's an improvement.