10 lesser-known Botanic Gardens food spots worth visiting more than the UNESCO site

At the mention of Botanic Gardens, you may immediately think of the UNESCO garden. Others may think it’s just a quiet stretch that leads to bustling Orchard Road. When asked to feature food spots in the area, I chose to focus on the lesser-known restaurants and cafes that deserve your attention. 

Stay tuned to the end of this list to find out how many of these eateries you discovered before me! Let us begin our adventure with these 10 lesser-known Botanic Gardens food spots that are worth visiting the next time you are in the vicinity!

1. Penang Kitchen

penang kitchen - several dishes

I’m starting off my list with one of my best finds in the area — Penang Kitchen. This eatery lies off the main road and close to housing neighbourhoods. This makes it challenging to locate if you are visiting for the first time. Walk up a short flight of stairs to a welcoming restaurant presented with simple decor. It almost gives off homely vibes!

penang kitchen - rojak

Ranging from appetisers to heavier mains and desserts, the food here will not disappoint. Begin your meal with their Rojak (S$9). Not to be confused with the local style we find in coffee shops, the rendition served here includes a variety of fresh cut fruits. 

Pineapples, red and green apples, starfruit, guava and the list just goes on! As someone who does not usually enjoy rojak, I was surprised to find myself eagerly poking into those sweet fruits doused with sweet-savoury gravy.

penang kitchen - char tway teow

For a heavier start to your meal, order the Chye Tow Kway (Omelette) (S$9) or the Char Kway Teow (S$10). Served right off the wok, both dishes use a generous amount of eggs and are stir-fried until smokey and aromatic. I especially loved the chunks of carrot cake cubes which introduce a good bite to the dish.

penang kitchen - assam laksa

The most unique dish, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed during my visit was their Assam Laksa (S$10). I can assure you that this is a laksa dish like no other. It is served with thick potato noodles and a bright red clear soup base topped with raw onions. The result? A tangy and spicy broth with super chewy noodles that is so refreshing and light that you will devour the entire bowl.

Pair these must-have dishes with their homemade Ambra + Sour Plum (Bua Long Long) (S$6) beverage. Its clean and grassy flavour acts as a palate cleanser. I also appreciate how well it extinguishes the spiciness from the food so you can appreciate each dish’s flavour even more. 

5 Coronation Road, Coronation Arcade, #01-05, Singapore 269406
+65 6466 6193
Tue to Sun: 10.30am – 3pm & 4pm – 9pm
Closed on Mon
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2. Thai Noodle House

thai noodle house - front entrance

Standing adjacent to Penang Kitchen, Thai Noodle House offers lesser-known homestyle Thai dishes at an affordable price. Taking on a similar simple decor concept as its neighbours, their dishes are served with simplicity and sincerity.

thai noodle house - tomyam

Meat lovers will enjoy their Beef Massaman (S$13) which is aromatic and heavily spiced (with herbs and spices). Otherwise, the Braised Pork Knuckle Rice (S$9) which features a hefty portion of pork along with vegetables and a sour-spicy chilli dip will entice many. Of course, the usuals are offered here as well — Tom Yam Soup (S$10), Tang Hoon Claypot (S$25) and Mango Salad (S$9.50).

thai noodle house - chendol

I never leave a Thai restaurant without dessert. An emphasis has been placed on their Thai Mixed Chendol (S$3) which has garnered attention for its creaminess and burst of flavours. The latter comes from the many ingredients — red ruby, jackfruit and sea coconut—  that are added to the coconut and milk base . 

5 Coronation Road, Coronation Arcade, #01-03, Singapore 269406
+65 6467 0104
Tue to Sun: 11.30am – 9.30pm
Closed on Mon
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3. Daily Ground

daily ground - several dishes

A myriad of food options line the pathway along the stretch from Botanic Garden MRT station. Look closely or you may miss Daily Ground, a cafe gem offering home baked pastries, cakes and brunch items.

daily ground - xo pasta

I implore all readers to order their spicy XO Seafood Pasta (S$28). If the use of fresh and plump prawns, Hokkaido scallops, and clams doesn’t already justify the price, the kitchen team even makes the XO sauce in-house. Its umami flavours are derived from the use of premium high-grade dried shrimps and shreds of scallop. 

During my visit, another item that many diners ordered was their selection of potato rosti. Think Rosti Eggs Benny (S$20) that is a favourite with children and adults alike.

daily ground - yuzu croissant

Displayed at the entrance to the cafe, homemade croissants drew my attention. I was torn between their Salted Egg Cereal Croissant (S$7) and Smoked Yuzu Bacon Croissant (S$7.90). Those who go crazy at the sight of salted egg products should choose the former to indulge in a salted egg molten lava centre. 

Eventually, I chose the latter and thoroughly enjoyed the sweet-salty creation. Small bacon bits were incorporated into the luscious yuzu cream filling. This added a smoky aroma and taste which complemented the slightly sweet and tangy yuzu cream. 

I greatly appreciated the many vegetarian and vegan options on their menu, which makes the cafe even more attractive and inclusive to consumers!

619D Bukit Timah Road, #01-01, Singapore 269724
+65 8518 0587
Daily: 8am – 5pm
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4. Sugartree Gelato

sugartree gelato - gelato display

Founded by the team behind Daily Ground, Sugartree Gelato opened in 2020 as a standalone gelato concept bar. After Daily Ground opened in 2021, the founders decided to merge the 2 concepts under the same roof at Botanic Gardens. Visitors, do not be alarmed that they share the same location!

sugartree gelato - gelato scooping

Despite the shared premises, the ordering process and delivery of the gelato to the second level of the cafe are flawless. A wide range of unique pairings are offered. The range starts from tangy sorbets such as the Blood Orange Sour Plum Sorbetto (S$5.50 per scoop) to fruity options including the Chrysanthemum Oolong (S$5 per scoop), the choices are simply limitless!

sugartree gelato - double scoop in cone

As a fan of darker and more robust flavours, I chose Lady Grey (S$5.50 per scoop) and Gianjuda (S$5.50 per scoop). While the former was accented with bergamot and orange flavours resulting in an amplified floral taste, the latter was smooth, incredibly creamy and nutty. 

Additional toppings such as Oreo Crumbs (S$0.70), Cacao Nibs (S$1) and others are also available for those looking for extra crunch. Lastly, the gelato may be served in a cup, on a Rosemary Cone (S$1.20) or a Waffle (S$7)

619D Bukit Timah Road, #01-01, Singapore 269724
+65 8518 0587
Daily: 8am – 5pm
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5. Han Bing Cafe

han bing cafe - front entrance

Another dessert option along the same stretch of Botanic Gardens is Han Bing Cafe. While the name suggests Korean food options only, their menu actually includes western delights, too. Whether they come in for light bites or dessert, customers leave with a smile on their faces. 

Under their Snacks category, a whole page of truffle-infused dishes are available. Think Truffles Spam Fries (S$10.80) to Krunchy Chicken with Truffles Flavour (S$12.80) and Really Trufflery Tornado Fries (S$7.80). Korean dishes include popular street food items with the likes of Korean Street Egg Sandwich (S$8.80) or heavier mains such as Classic Army Stew (S$22.80).

han bing cafe - bingsu collage

Most popular for their cute bingsu designs, at least 1 of these super smooth milky ice dessert bowls is ordered at each table. Have you heard of Mao Shan Wang (Durian) Bingsu (S$5.80 for mini)? Well, now you know where to get a hold of this unique dessert pairing! Otherwise, less adventurous eaters may enjoy their Tangerine Fruity Bingsu (S$11.90 for small) or their Black Sesame Bingsu (S$5.80 for mini)

10 Jalan Serene, #01-03B, Singapore 258748
+65 9274 8808
Tue to Sun: 12pm – 9pm
Closed on Mon

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6. Ollella 

ollella - store front

Taking up a tiny store space with just an over-the-counter concept, Ollella sees steady lines form outside even before opening hours. The brand specialises in traditional kueh and pastries re-created from recipes passed down from the founders’ grandmother. Make it known, those recipes are 60 years old!

ollela - kueh collage
Credit – Ollella

Despite their small storefront, a wide range of goodies and mains are offered here. While it mostly functions as a takeaway stand, a few kueh-shaped tables and chairs make ‘dining in’ possible for eager customers. Come early as they sell out rather quickly! From the usuals like their Signature Kueh Dadar (S$2.20), Kueh Salat (S$1.80) and Kueh Lopis (S$0.55) — a family-favourite. 

I suspect their popularity comes from their more unique offerings. Those queuing in front of me ordered more than 10 items from their Lemper series in Ayam, Ebi and Rendang Ayam flavours. I would also personally grab a portion of their Salted Egg Yam Cake (S$7.80) which is big enough to share among 3 pax. 

501 Bukit Timah Road, Cluny Court, #01-02B, Singapore 259760
+65 6612 6581
Daily: 8.30am – 6pm
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The Ang Ku Kueh Hut: Traditional kueh waffles with fillings like pistachio & hazelnut with ice cream at Kim Keat

7. LeWu Cafe

lewu cafe - entrance

Taking up a much larger space than the other eateries mentioned in this listicle so far, LeWu Cafe stands out as one of the more popular Thai food options in the Botanic Gardens. With seats on the outside of the restaurant as well as both floors, customers return constantly for their affordably priced delicacies.

lewu cafe - several dishes

Begin your meal with their spicy, sweet and sour Mango Salad (S$8). The addition of cashew nuts adds a crunch factor and mellows the spice level to encourage non-spice eaters to dig in, too. A plate of Seafood Phad Thai (S$13) is a must-have when dining here.

A generous amount of prawns, squid rings and rice noodles are tossed into a tangy and savoury sauce. Do not forget to incorporate some crushed nuts and chilli flakes to complete your phad thai experience!

As always, my Thai food adventures have to include a bowl of hot and spicy Seafood Tom Yum Soup (S$8). The inclusion of milk into the sour soup base reduced the spice intensity while adequate seafood ingredients were thrown in. 

879/881 Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 279892
+65 8228 7394
Mon to Fri: 3pm – 10pm
Sat & Sun: 12pm – 10pm
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8. Orh Gao Taproom

orh gao taproom - front cover
Credit – Orh Gao Taproom

There is no better place to unwind after a hectic day at work than Orh Gao Taproom at Botanic Gardens. Taking up the space of a traditional coffee shop, it becomes a chill but lively beer-focused bar, come sundown. Besides craft beers on tap, one can also rely on their kitchen team to bring the best bar bites to accompany those refreshing brews.

orh gao taproom - food dishes

The menu is focused on local twists which got me salivating. Under the Bites list, I would order the Xiao Xiao Yu (S$12) which translates to ‘small fish’. It is served with sambal belachan and I can see how the spicy finger food is a fan favourite. If you’re feeling extra hungry, the OG Sambal Curry Mussels (S$18), Roasted Pork Belly (S$13) or the dinner favourite Pari Bakar (S$15) will surely satisfy. 

Talk to the team about your favourite beer profiles and try out the staff’’ recommendations; trust me, you will not be disappointed! For those who are not fans of the bubbly alcohol, there are several non-beer options available — House Pour Wine (S$15) and Elderflower Yuzu Gin & Tonic (S$18) sound like good options for the night. 

10 Jalan Serene, Serene Centre, #01-03, Singapore 258748
+65 8749 2755
Tue to Thu & Sun: 4pm – 11pm
Fri & Sat: 4pm – 12am
Closed on Mon
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9. Yong Chai Chicken Rice

yong chai chicken rice - entrance

First impressions-wise, Yong Chai Chicken Rice seems like a no-frills eatery. Although their title suggests that their menu consists solely of chicken rice, other local favourites are also on their menu. With no website, social media pages or online reviews about the food, this place is probably the most secret spot in the vicinity (at least to me).

yong chai chicken rice - food dishes

From an online delivery platform’s site, I found out the list of dishes that are available. For individual portions, the Chicken Rice Bento (S$6.50) is a good choice. It comes with oily rice, a handful of chicken slices, an egg and some vegetables. For those who prefer fried chicken, the Chicken Cutlet Rice Combo (S$6.50) seems fit. 

Besides chicken rice, the brand also offers Hokkien Mee (S$5), Hor Fun Gravy (S$5) and Mee Fen (S$5) for those who prefer noodles. They also offer some zi char dishes that often sell out in the morning for early birds; do drop by earlier in the day if you are aiming for a pack of homestyle cooked food. 

5 Coronation Road, #01-02, Singapore 269406
+65 6468 9859
Daily: 7am – 5pm

10. Hom Aroy Thai Food

hom aroy thai - food stall

Until today, I would not have expected so many Thai food restaurants to be in this vicinity! The last to make this list is none other than Hom Aroy Thai Food. I saved the cheapest Thai food spot in this list only to reveal it here; the majority of items offered here are priced below S$10!

With multiple outlets across Singapore and constant long queues during peak hours, rest assured that quality Thai food will be served (in generous portions, too).

hom aroy thai food - food collage

With 8 pieces of deep-fried golden Chicken Wings priced at only S$10 ; it is an absolute steal! Pair the crunchy goodness with hearty mains such as Thai Fried Kway Teow (S$6), Olive Fried Rice (S$6) or Tom Yum Fried Rice (S$6). Despite the large crowd, one can always count on the quick hands and feet of the staff present to whip up and deliver the dishes in minutes!

587 Bukit Timah Road Coronation Shopping Plaza, #03-01A, Singapore 269707
+65 8942 6498
Daily: 11am – 3.30pm & 4.30pm – 8.30pm

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