Kembangan is admittedly a lesser explored area on the East side of Singapore, easily overshadowed by its neighbouring MRT stops along the Green line, which boasts a vast variety of eateries.
Speaking from someone who has been staying in Kembangan for more than 15 years, I’ve always heard complaints from my friends about the lack of good food around my hood, but hey, that ain’t true. From swanky cafes to delicious hot pots and local coffee shop grubs, this list will have you covered.
Here are my recommendations for 10 of the best places that I’ve scoured through this neighbourhood (in alphabetical order).
1. Anson Town
Anson Town has a few branches around Singapore but this one at Changi Road (it’s near Kembangan MRT, not Changi Village ah) is its only air-conditioned dine-in store.
Serving hearty and authentic Ipoh cuisine, Anson Town is famous for its variations of rice rolls, affectionately known as Chee Cheong Fun.
On top of the iconic rice roll dishes, they also offer Malaysian signatures such as Curry chicken mee and Ipoh Horfun, all affordably priced around $2.50 – $4.50.
If you find those too heavy, opt for its soy beancurd dessert and flaky kaya pastries that are equally yums.
Anson Town: 324P Changi Road, Singapore 419799 | Opening hours: Daily 8am – 9pm | Tel: +65 6345 9689 | Website | Facebook
2. Bird Bird
Bird Bird is no stranger to the fans of Chef Bjorn Shen and I am pretty glad that it got relocated to Frankel Avenue, which is about 10 minutes walk from the train station.
This restaurant is for those who enjoy their poultry and it serves three types of crispy fried chicken, namely the classic Southern Fried Chicken, Bangkok Fried Chicken and Lebanese Fried Chicken (left to right).
You have to make up your mind on which flavour when you decide on The Whole Damn Bird for $49 or a Half Bird for $25.
For something sweet, try the Ugnuts ($5.50 per piece), aka ugly doughnuts. Now, that’s something very Southern Murican for fellow Singaporeans.
Bird Bird: 97 Frankel Ave, Singapore 458222 | Opening Hours: (Tues to Sun) 11am – 11pm, Closed on Mondays | Tel: +65 6694 8270 | Facebook
3. Birdie Num Num Gastrobar
Birdie Num Num is a laid-back, family-style restaurant that serves hearty western food and a decent variety of alcohol at its bar, along with a huge LCD screen that plays movies or live-screening of soccer matches.
While it does not look like much, this place actually serves delicious artery-clogging, crispy golden duck fat-fried fries that goes well with most of its main dishes, which costs around $14 – $17 per dish.
Not sure about you, but this is a pretty comfy place to chill out with friends over some drinks.
Birdie Num Num: 54 Jalan Kembangan, Singapore 419119 | Opening Hours: (Wed – Mon) 3pm – 1am, (Sun) 3p – 12am, Closed on Tuesdays | Tel: 6449 2546 | Facebook
4. Fresh Fruits Lab
A cafe that’s uniquely themed with its fruit juices served in laboratory apparatus, Fresh Fruits Lab (or FFL) brings you hearty cafe staples such as eggs benedict, burgers and pancakes.
At FFL, you get a welcome “shot” of a random vibrant-coloured juice contained in a test tube, which probably aids to whet your appetite for a scrumptious brunch at the cafe.
If you enjoy something quirky, try the Singaporean-fusion Otah Sliders ($12) and for a more substantial dish, get the house-special Masago caviar pasta ($20) that comes with scallops.
A well-meaning cafe that aims to incorporate fruity elements to almost every dish, this is the place for you health gurus out there.
Fresh Fruits Lab: 351 Changi Rd, Singapore 419818 | Opening Hours: (Tues – Fri) 11am – 10pm, (Sat & Sun) 10am – 10pm, Closed on Mondays | Tel: 6677 6741 | Facebook
5. Hook On Steam Boat
You’ve heard about this famous cheesy mookata place from your friends, but have you tried it? Hook On Steamboat is special for its signature gooey Cheesy Nacho BBQ hotplate dip that is the restaurant’s take on a creamy and rich fondue.
Cheese dip aside, Hook On Steamboat also serves scrumptious house-marinated meats such as Thai satay chicken and garlic lemongrass chicken.
Expect to fork out around $19.90+ – $30.70+ per pax, but I’d definitely recommend doing the premium buffet because you will get to enjoy free-flow crayfish, scallops and more for around $30, talk about value for money!
Hook On Steamboat: 389 Changi Road, Singapore 419838 | Tel: 68440389 / 93893806 | Opening Hours: Tue – Sun 5pm – 12am, closed on Monday | Facebook
6. Hai Kee Soy Sauce Chicken Rice
For those who enjoy the Soy Sauce Chicken from a certain Michelin-starred stall but do not wish to queue, do yourself a favour and check out Hai Kee Soy Sauce Chicken Rice.
Unlike the roasted chicken and tender “white” Hainanese chicken used in our national favourite chicken rice, the underrated soy sauce chicken is known to be sweeter and slightly juicier.
Authentic, flavourful and affordably priced, this stall sells one of my favourite soy sauce chicken in Singapore and I enjoy pairing them up with its house-made ginger sauce that goes well with the fragrant chicken rice and springy noodles.
Hai Kee Soy Sauce Chicken Rice: 324T Changi Rd, Singapore 419799 | Opening Hours: (Daily) 9am – 7.30pm, closed every alternate Tuesday | Tel: 9459 2494 | Facebook
7. Al Jasra Restaurant
Forget about Simpang Bedok where it’s always difficult to find a decent parking spot, Al Jasra Restaurant is here to satisfy your supper cravings with its wide variety of Halal-certified supper classics, specifically prata.
Whether it is sweet, savoury of spicy, enjoy these crispy goodies with your loved ones at any time of the day, since the restaurant’s opened for 24 hours.
Those with a heavier appetite would enjoy the prata buffet that goes for $7.90 nett per pax, which is extremely affordable because you will get to choose from up to 16 different varieties!
Al Jasra Restaurant: 459 Changi Rd, Singapore 419882 | Tel: +65 8369 5664 | Opening Hours: 24 Hours (Daily) | Facebook
8. Rice & Fries
True to its name, Rice & Fries makes sure that you will get your fill of those before leaving the restaurant because the food here is worth going past your carbs-quota.
A simple and cosy place that brings you decently priced western food that packs a punch, as well as imported beers from around the world.
A must-try dish would be its Lobster Risotto ($20), delicate pearls mixed into a robustly flavoured lobster bisque that’s briny and creamy at the same time.
On top of its usual staples, the restaurant offers a seasonal menu that caters to almost every festive occasion. Not looking for heavy main courses? Don’t worry because cakes, waffles and ice cream are available too.
Rice & Fries: 484 Changi Road, Singapore 419896 | Opening Hours: (Mon – Fri) 12pm – 3pm, 5pm – 11pm, only Tues 6pm – 11pm, (Sat & Sun) 12pm – 11pm | Tel: 9738 6648 | Facebook
9. Seng Kee
A famed supper spot, three minutes away from Kembangan MRT station, Seng Kee is most notable for its pork mee sua and herbal black chicken, a fail-proof comfort food for its diners.
Its popularity is unparalleled as I often notice “Supper Groups” from various universities making their way to this humble eatery, ordering the signature dishes without any hesitation.
For others, the pork mee sua ($5 – $7) is a must order but I will highly recommend you to opt for the Chao Ta Beehoon ($10), a crisp and flattened noodle dish full of wok hei that is impossible to resist (I would choose this over the mee sua any time).
Seng Kee: 467 Changi Road, Singapore 419887 | Opening hours: (Daily) 11am-4am | Tel: 6746 4089
10. South Union Park
Just five minutes walk away from Kembangan MRT, South Union Park is tucked away in the residential area and almost hidden from the public eye.
Despite its somewhat ulu location, this place succeeded in attracting a number of crowds thanks to its unpretentious and delightful dishes that exclude taxes (yes, all the prices are nett).
I tried the well-combined Lightly Smoked Salmon ($23) that came on a bed of pureed cauliflower “mash”, roasted cauliflower, edamame beans and little squares of roasted potatoes.
The fish had a smoky aroma and was semi-cooked, which resulted in a soft and flaky flesh that seemed to dissipate upon entering my mouth. Pair this up with a frothy glass of ice cold Matcha Latte ($6) for a decently healthy meal.
South Union Park: 101 Jln Kembangan, Singapore 419139 | Opening Hours: (Tues – Thurs) 5.30pm – 10pm, (Fri) 11.30am – 10pm, (Sat) 9am – 10pm, (Sun) 9am – 9pm, Closed on Mondays | Tel: 9061 8703 | Facebook
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