The Downtown Line (DTL) was first conceptualised in 2001 in an attempt to streamline the journey of the residents from Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Panjang to the city area. As of Feb 2023, it is still undergoing further extensions, with the latest MRT station being built around the Sungei Kadut area slated to be completed in the mid-2030s.
Currently, the line brings us from Bukit Panjang all the way to the reaches of Tampines. And with stops such as Chinatown and Newton, places that are known for their food, it’s just begging for an article to be written about the best grub spots that you can find along the Downtown Line. With pleasure, I bring you the top 10 places to eat that you don’t want to miss when bustling along the Downtown Line!
We start off our Downtown Line journey all the way to the East of Singapore, Tampines. Here, you can find arguably one of the best Indian rojak on the island at Al Mahboob Rojak. Located at NTUC Income@Tampines Junction, the Indian rojak here is said to be fresh (even when tapau-ed) with savoury and sweet sauce.
The Rojak (S$6 onwards) has a minimum order of 6 toppings. However, that really is an easy feat to complete with toppings such as Coconut Fritters (S$1.30), Oats & Peanuts Fritters (S$1.90), Beef Lungs (S$3), Cuttlefish Body (S$6.50) and Flour Vadai (S$1.30). You can even enjoy standard Indian food fares like Mee Goreng (S$7) and Mee Kuah (S$7.50).
The next stop brings us to Bedok North, this time to 58 Prawn Noodle and Minced Meat Noodle, which is located along Bedok Reservoir Road under Block 704. As per the name, it serves prawn noodles, minced meat noodles and then some. The number ‘58’ symbolises how the owner of the stall used to work at the now-closed 58 Minced Meat Mee.
Foodies need to prepare themselves to face a long queue, as it’s usually the case at 58 Prawn Noodle and Minced Meat. Your choices include Prawn Noodle (S$5), Pork Ribs Noodle (S$6.50 for Soup/S$7 for Dry) and for the best of both worlds, the Pork Ribs Prawn Noodle (S$6.50 for Soup/S$7 for Dry).
Bedok Reservoir Road, Block 704, Singapore 470704
+65 9337 1899
Tue to Sun: 6am – 4pm
Closed on Mon
3. Nan Xing Claypot Rice
We travel to Mattar next, which brings us to Nan Xing Claypot Rice located at Circuit Road Market & Food Centre. Run by two relatively young hawkers, this popular claypot rice spot has been around for almost 13 years. Every order of claypot rice is meticulously cooked on a gas stove first and then over charcoal to give that signature crispy and charred rice at the bottom.
There’s quite a number of claypot options to choose from, such as the Claypot Chicken Rice (S$7/S$14/S$21), Luncheon Meat & Egg (S$6), Pig Trotter Vinegar (S$7) and Bak Kut Teh (S$7). Because of the cooking methods used, be prepared to wait for a bit. Good things come to those who wait anyway.
We’re almost about to reach the central part of Singapore at Geylang Bahru. It is home to Hui Wei Chilli Ban Mian, which is located at Geylang Bahru Market and Food Centre.
Established in 1996, Hui Wei Chilli Ban Mian serves noodles that are handcrafted before your very eyes with the use of a noodle machine.
As always, the long queues are almost a fail-safe indicator of how good the food is. Many patrons noted how there were queues formed even when the stall hadn’t opened.
Their Signature Chilli Ban Mian (S$4.50/S$6.50) is a must-try, with a deep, spicy and savoury chilli and well-cooked handcrafted ban mian noodles. There are also other options such as Sliced Abalone La Mian (S$4.50/S$6.50) and Sliced Fish Bee Hoon (S$4.50/S$6.50).
5. Beach Road Scissor-Cut Curry Rice
Our next location takes us to Jalan Besar where you can find possibly the most famous curry rice spot in Singapore, Beach Road Scissor-Cut Curry Rice. Founded way back in 1930 by a Hainan immigrant, the stall is named after the tradition of using metal scissors to cut food into pieces.
Their curry has a unique concoction of 15 handpicked spices, fresh coconut and soy sauce. Prices for a plate of curry rice starts from S$4 to S$5, and can vary depending on how many ingredients you pile on your plate. There is a minimum order of 2 items to add to your curry rice, with options such as Pork Belly (S$2), Chicken Wing (S$1.60), Prawn Fritter (S$1) and Chicken Chop (S$2).
229 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208905
+65 9826 1464
Daily: 11am – 3am
Instagram | Website
6. My Awesome Cafe
Located at Telok Ayer, My Awesome Cafe lives up to its name with hearty sandwiches, burgers and salads that are bound to make your day an awesome one.
Opened in 2014, My Awesome Cafe currently resides in Singapore’s first traditional Chinese medicine hospital, which can be dated back to 1952. Since then, it’s been refurbished into a rustic bar cum cafe.
There is a dizzying array of food items to choose from, such as My Awesome Sandwich (S$18), Rendang Mushrooms Sandwich (S$19) and Cheesy Crispy Duck Confit Quesadilla (S$28). Even their drinks options are equally varied, ranging from all kinds of coffees, teas, wines and beers to even probiotic drinks such as AwesomeBiotics (S$12) and Berry-Beautiful (S$12).
7. Ri Ri Hong Mala Xiang Guo
Moving forward to Chinatown, you can expect to get your taste buds numb with Sichuan peppercorns with Ri Ri Hong Mala Xiang Guo. Located at People’s Park Food Centre, Ri Ri Hong Mala Xiang Guo is popular for their authentic mala that’s made with over 20 herbs and spices.
An average order of mala ranges from S$15 to S$30 and above. There are ingredients such as Pork (S$2), Taiwan Sausage (S$3), Vegetables (S$1) and Luncheon Meat (S$2), and the staff will price the items in accordance with their weight. They have 4 spice levels: Non-Spicy, Less Spicy, Medium Spicy and Super Spicy. First-timers are advised to start from the less spicy level as the mala here stings deeper than usual.
32 New Market Road, People’s Park Food Centre, #01-1152, Singapore 050032
Mon to Sat: 10am – 9.30pm
Sun: 10.30am – 9.30pm
Our next stop along the Downtown Line takes us to one of Singapore’s epicentre of tourism, Bugis. It’s home to many renowned eating places such as Blanco Court Prawn Mee which has been serving traditional prawn noodles since 1928. To put it into context, that’s 10 years after WW1 ended! Currently, it is run by 4th generation family members and is considered to be one of the best prawn noodles on the island.
The Prawn Noodle starts at $6.50 and you could even try the Prawn & Pork Ribs Noodle for the same price. If you really want to treat yourself, you can opt for the Jumbo Prawn Noodle (S$12). Expect the thick prawn noodle broth to wash over your senses with a prominent sweetness and a robust earthiness with just a slight hint of brininess.
243 Beach Road, #01-01, Singapore 189754
+65 6396 8464
Wed to Mon: 7.30am – 4pm
Closed on Tue
9. Spizza Bukit Timah
Located deeper in the central part of Singapore lies Newton, and whilst known for its popular seafood and BBQ wings at the nearby hawker centre, you can also get fresh wood-fired oven pizza and Italian food at Spizza Bukit Timah. Located at Balmoral Plaza, Spizza Bukit Timah uses ingredients imported from Italy to provide the freshest Italian cuisine in town.
Indulge pizza such as Margherita (S$22/S$26) and unique pasta options such as Gnocchi Al Gorgonzola (S$20). You can even Create Your Own Pasta starting from S$18 onwards! Light eaters can opt for the Antipasti options such as Portobello Mushroom (S$15.50) and Calamari (S$16.50).
10. Karu’s Indian Banana Leaf Restaurant
Our last stop on the Downtown Line takes us to Cashew where you can experience authentic Indian food at Karu’s Indian Banana Leaf Restaurant. Having been based at Upper Bukit Timah Road since 1993, Karu’s Indian Leaf Restaurant is so popular for its fish head curry that its logo depicts them as the ‘Fish Head King’. According to them, fish head curry is uniquely Singaporean.
Their signature Fish Head Deluxe comes in three sizes, Small, Medium and Large (S$27/S$36/S$40) and uses a typical South Indian fish. Apart from that, you could also enjoy other Indian delicacies such as Chicken Masala (S$7), Mutton Mysore (S$8.20/S$14/S$17) and Kudal Curry (S$7/S$12/S$14.50).
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