Ah yes, Woodlands. Frequently touted as the barren wild north of Singapore in the middle of nowhere.
The only thing most Singaporeans know about this area is the checkpoint that goes into Malaysia. Even longtime residents of this area have a hard time giving out recommendations. Thankfully, it’s not that good eats don’t exist – you just need to look a little harder.
Located just a mere 10 minutes walk from Kranji MRT station, this spacious restaurant serves up anything from weekend brunch to TGIF bar grub. Their signature Seafood Capellini ($18.50) combines fresh, juicy seared scallops, prawns and mussels with white wine, garlic and olive oil to make an excellent pasta dish.
The Singaporean branch of the iconic Nanxiang Steamed Bun restaurant at Shanghai’s Chenghuang Temple is revered for their century-old history of dumpling-making, and the traditional minced meat Xiao Long Bao ($6) is just as good as the ones in China. Not willing settle for the basic? Try their even more impressive King Sized Nanxiang Crab Roe Bun.
Regularly touted as a competitor to Aston’s, this Singaporean-western stall at the S-11 coffee shop right by Marsiling station offers decent Singapore-style western food at affordable prices, such as Chargrilled Chicken Chop with Potato Salad and Cheesy Fries ($6). Noelle’s prices rarely go above $8, and while their serving sizes can stand to be a bit bigger, the quantity, quality and variety are still well within reason for their price tag.
Noelle’s Signatures: Blk 302 Woodlands Street 31, S11 Coffeeshop #01-125, Singapore 730302
Don’t let their ‘all vegetarian’ tag deter you – The Crowded Bowl’s salads are so mind-blowingly satisfying (and cheap) that even the most hardcore of carnivores don’t realise they’re missing meat. Their Crowded Bowl Signature ($3) allows for up to three toppings, ranging from fusilli to pickled veggies, pumpkin and seaweed tofu. Add $1 for their creamy scrambled eggs.
The Crowded Bowl: Woodlands Avenue 9, Blk W4-W6 Level 3 (The Lawn Food Court), Republic Polytechnic, Singapore 738964 | Mon – Fri: 9.30am-4.30pm, Closed on Sat, Sun & PH | Website
Hidden away at Woodlands Civic Centre, Kopi Alley serves kaya toast done in a whopping four manners: traditional, thick toast, crackers, and steamed bread. The Traditional Kaya Toast ($4.90/set) consists of a generous serving of kaya and thick slabs butter sandwiched between thinly sliced bread toasted just right.
Kopi Alley: 900 South Woodlands Drive, #01-09, Woodlands Civic Centre, Singapore 730900 | Tel:6746 3877 | Daily, 7.00am-8.45pm | Website
Quite possibly one of the first names that come to mind where unique eating places at Woodlands is concerned, Rasa Istimewa provides equally good food to go with its great view. Their extensive tze-char menu includes hotplates to a multitude of seafood and other local dishes such as BBQ Stingray ($13) and Salted Egg Prawn ($28). Together with its halal-certified status, makes it one of the best options for a large gathering with options that can cater to any cravings.
Rasa Istimewa Waterfront Restaurant: 6A Admiralty Rd West, Woodlands Waterfront Park, Singapore 757445 | Tel: 6884 6884 | Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 2.00pm-12.00am, Sat & Sun: 12.00pm-12.00am | Website
The reward for visiting this humble little stall will get you a plate of quite possibly one of the best White Rojak ($3) in Singapore. The cucumber, pineapple and turnip taste crisp, clean and fresh, while the taupok and youtiao are piping hot and crunchy. The mound of fragrant crushed peanuts that lay on top seal the deal, along with the mildy sweet sour plum sauce that coats every ingredient.
Black & White Rojak: Woodlands Drive 14, Blk 515-A, Singapore 730515
While specialising in Japanese cakes, pastries and sweets such as dorayaki and mochi, Dora Keiki also makes their own unique waffles, which stand out by being significantly thicker and creamier than other counterparts around the island. Their Peanut Butter Waffle ($1.60) is made up of a mildly sweet, fluffy waffle and a sweet and savoury peanut butter spread.
Dora Keiki: 30 Woodlands Avenue 1, #01-29, Woodlands MRT Station, Singapore 738343
Don’t let the light-looking broth fool you. This stall’s Tom Yum Mee Hoon Kueh ($3.30) is devastatingly spicy, and the unprepared can immediately enter a coughing fit from the heat that immediately hits the back of your throat once the soup touches your taste buds.
Garnished with fish, chicken, minced pork, veggies and a dollop of good old ikan bilis, this bowl of spicy mee hoon kueh will leave your tongue tingling for awhile.
Handmade Mee Hoon Kueh: 20 Marsiling Lane, Marsiling Lane Food Centre #01-15, Singapore 730020
Equipped with 15 different variations of crab, there’s no better place to head to than Penang St. Buffet if you’re an ardent lover of these crustaceans. From familiar flavours such as luscious, creamy salted egg to innovative ones such as sour and spicy kimchi, mindboggling espresso to fiery peri peri, and a whole range of other accompanying seafood to boot, this is the ultimate crab buffet to dig in on a weekend.
Prices (Mon – Thurs) $59.90++ | (Fri – Sun, PH & eve of PH) $63.90++
Penang St. Buffet: 1 Woodlands Square, Causeway Point, #05-11/12, Singapore 738099 | Tel: +65 6894 7872 | Website | Dinner session 1: 4.45pm-7.15pm, Dinner session 2: 7.30pm-10pm