Staying along the North-East line, it has always been a struggle to travel to the West where most of my friends live. Usual complaints include the West not being a very ‘happening’ place; there just doesn’t seem to be anywhere to get my grub.
Considering how the school term is beginning in a few months and how I’m going to be relocated to the West for the next couple of years, I reckon it’s for the better that I begin foraging for the good eats and hidden gems in the ‘hood, Clementi.
Keeping it as affordable as I can with most of them being hawker stalls, I might be quite wrong about my initial assumptions of the West. This one is for the Westies — 10 food places that are more interesting than just going to Clementi Mall.
1. Ah Hoe Mee Pok
While it’s common to have locals behind the international cuisines we find in our hawker centres, it is relatively rare for foreigners to be manning authentically local delights, much less a Japanese whipping up bowls of bak chor mee.
Rare indeed, but in the coffee shop of Clementi West is Naoji-san behind Ah Hoe Mee Pok. Having learnt the ropes from the owner of Ah Hoe Mee Pok, Naoji-san single-handedly dishes out the different bak chor mee variations on the menu.
Try his regular Mushroom Minced Meat Noodle (S$4/S$5) or Special Mee Pok Dry/Soup (S$4/S$5). Alternatively, if you’re feeling a little fancier, he’s got Clayfish Mee Pok (S$10) and Large Prawn Noodle (S$10).
The last two are steeper in price but it’s definitely justified by the novelty of the seafood ingredients.
Ah Hoe Mee Pok: 710 Clementi West Street 2, Singapore 120710 | Tel: +65 8742 1341 | Opening hours: 7am – 4pm (Mon to Sat), 7am – 3pm (Sun)
2. Fu Yuan Handmade Dimsum (吉隆坡富园手工点心.包)
Located in the same coffee shop as Ah Hoe Mee Pok is an underrated dim sum stall — Fu Yuan Handmade Dimsum.
We all know food being handmade is a difference we can taste, especially when it comes to delicate bites like dim sum.
Helmed with more than 30 years of experience, the boss guarantees satisfying quality for his dim sum. His signature Liu Sha Pau (S$1 each) is a bright yellow pillow with molten salted egg yolk sauce bursting at the seams.
Try his Braised Meat Pau (S$1.60) which features an unconventional presentation of the pau encasing the braised pork, as opposed to the usual sandwiching.
Fu Yuan Handmade Dimsum: 710 Clementi West Street 2, Singapore 120710 | Opening hours: 5am-6pm (Daily)
3. Lee Kee (李記)
Roasted delights stalls are aplenty in hawker centres across the island, if not a mandatory find. Yet, good roast meats are hard to come by.
Being just a few stops from Clementi MRT, Lee Kee at Ayer Rajah Food Centre is a stall that checks all the boxes for a good roast.
Their signature Roast Duck Noodle (S$3 for small, S$4 for large) comes with a large portion of succulent and juicy roast duck alongside a plate of egg noodles.
In cases like these, the appearance of the glistening glossy roasted skin can attest for itself better than words.
Their Wanton Noodles (S$3 for small, S$4 for large) is worth a try too.
Lee Kee (李記): 503 West Coast Drive, Ayer Rajah Food Centre, #01-13, Singapore 120503 | Opening hours: 8am – 3.30pm (Mon to Sat), Closed on Sun
4. Bowl Chap
Bowl Chap in Ayer Rajah Food Centre is where you’ll want to head for some cheap Japanese fare. Serving up Japanese dons with local fusion flavours at an affordable price point, it’s no surprise the stall attracts quite a decent crowd.
Their 5 Spice Apple Braised Pork Belly (S$5.80) was a delightful rice bowl featuring tender melt-in-your-mouth pork belly braised overnight.
Not many will appreciate their Black Sweet Vinegar Pork Belly (S$5.80), inspired by traditional black vinegar pig trotters, a dish with an overpowering cutting vinegar flavour only some may deem as palatable.
Chicken lovers should go for their Smoked Paprika Chicken Katsu (S$5.50) or Chicken Karage with Tonkatsu Mayo (S$6.90).
Bowl Chap: 503 West Coast Drive, Ayer Rajah Food Centre, #01-80, Singapore 120503 | Opening hours: 8am – 8pm (Mon to Fri), 8am – 2.30pm (Sat), Closed on Sun
5. Joo Chiat Prawn Mee
I promise this is the last feature from Ayer Rajah. Home to several hawker gems, it would’ve been a pity not to have featured the stalls.
Joo Chiat Prawn Mee is a without a doubt mention-worthy. Reopening in Ayer Rajah from their previous location along Crane Road, many would be enticed to know they’re relatives to the owners of Blanco Court, Jalan Sultan and Beach Road Prawn Noodles.
Dig in to the Bee Hoon Mee Dry with Chilli (S$4/S$5/S$6) decked with three large prawns, pork ribs and fresh kang kong. The punchy chilli was arguably the highlight.
While I have a personal preference for dry mee, you could go for their Pork Rib Prawn Mee (S$4/S$5/S$6) with their robust pork bone broth.
Joo Chiat Prawn Mee: 503 West Coast Drive, Ayer Rajah Food Centre, #01-35, Singapore 120503 | Opening hours: 7.30am – 3pm (Wed to Mon), Closed on Tues
6. Nam Kee Fried Prawn Noodle
While this didn’t make it into our top ten Hokkien mee in Singapore, we figured it still deserves an honorary mention of being a well-recommended Hokkien mee stall in Clementi.
We gathered the reason why Nam Kee Fried Prawn Noodle didn’t make the cut to qualify as top ten is probably due to the masses preferring wetter versions of the mee. Being a little on the dry side, their Fried Prawn Mee (S$4) still doesn’t disappoint. Best eaten with their tasty sambal, we see why residents would queue for it.
Nam Kee Fried Prawn Noodle: 448 Clementi Ave 3, #01-12, Singapore 120448 | Opening hours: 11.30am – 2.45pm, 4.30pm – 8.30pm (Tues to Sat), Closed on Mon & Sun
Birdfolks is a hidden gem in the sparsely populated NEWest Mall serving up what some may agree is the best fried chicken they’ve had by far.
Unlike some places where chicken is served dripping with oil or is dreadfully dry inside, Birdfolks guarantees a satisfying craggy crust with an Asian-spiced butter flavour.
Their signature Thigh & Drum (S$12.90) is a must-have, served alongside a generous portion of fragrant oregano fries.
For a more fulfilling lunch, their Signature Chicken Rice (S$9.90) comes with rice, an onsen egg, chunks of their fried chicken and vegetables on the side.
8. Yong Fa Hainanese Curry Rice & Curry Fish Head
I’ve recently tried Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice with more than 70 years of history in Tiong Bahru, and I must say that it was a very impressive spread of dishes that went with my curry-drenched rice.
Yong Fa Hainanese Curry Rice & Curry Fish Head in Clementi does not have as an extensive spread like Loo’s with choice of seafood, but most dishes are priced rather economically.
Choose between two kinds of curry, their Curry Mutton(S$2.50) and Curry Chicken Wing (S$1.50) with sides like their Pork Chop (S$2) and Vegetables (S$0.70/S$1/S$2) to choose from.
Yong Fa Hainanese Curry Rice & Curry Fish Head: 448 Clementi Ave 3, #01-25, Singapore 120448 | Opening hours: 10am – 2pm, 4pm – 7pm (Mon to Fri), Closed on Sat & Sun
For a quick breakfast fix, KToast in Grantral Mall will get your morning started off right. Very much like the popular chain outlet Isaac Toast of Korea, KToast serves up hearty handmade sandwiches at a more affordable price point.
Their basic KToast (S$2.90) is a simple ham and cheese sandwich, about a fraction of the price of Isaac’s.
For something more authentically Korean, go for their Hot Bugoggi Toast (S$4.90) featuring a beef patty, omelette and a cabbage slaw wedged between two slices of toast.
KToast: 3151 Commonwealth Avenue West, Grantral Mall, #01-23, Singapore 129581 | Opening hours: 10am – 9pm (Daily) | Facebook
10. Jalapeno Southwest
Contrary to my belief that there was not much of a selection of food in the West, I was surprised to find Jalapeno South-West in 321 Clementi.
They serve affordable authentic halal Mexican fare featuring light bites like Buffalo Wings (S$8.90 for half dozen wings, S$16.90 for a dozen) marinated in a punchy Tabasco sauce and their Chicken Quesadilla (S$9.90).
Burritos are mandatory in Mexican cuisine, and our favourite was their Chicken Burrito (S$9.90) packed with grilled chicken, pico de gallo, black beans, bell peppers and lettuce.
Jalapeno Southwest: 321 Clementi Ave 3, #01-09, 321 Clementi, Singapore 129905 | Opening hours: 11am – 11pm (Daily) | Facebook
If you don’t live in the West, I’m sure these food places make compelling reasons for the travel!