Just short of a few MRT stations away from Orchard is Novena / Thomson Road – a quieter district that has her own charm and offerings. Unlike the bustling Orchard Road, Novena is an area of residential and commercial services more on the outskirts of town.
Nestled in this coveted residential district are actually many hidden F&B haunts that serve delectable food at wallet-friendly prices. As someone who works at Novena, and having to find interesting lunch and dinner options, I’ve put together this handy food guide.
I’ve also split the guide into 3 categories: the more affordable and cheap options below $5, averagely priced at $15, or if it’s pay day, dining options below $30.
Here are 15 must try places to eat for those who work and live in Novena and Thomson Road.
—-Below $30 Meals—
1. Tomi Sushi
Tomi Sushi originated from Niigata prefecture in 1954, and has 14 branches in Japan. It does not boast a fancy interior but you can expect better quality of sushi and sashimi here. Tomi prides itself for using 100% Niigata Koshihikari Rice- the crown jewel of Japanese short-grain rice.
This rice is noted for its firm stickiness and sweet flavor. If you had watched Jiro’s Dream of Sushi, you would have known the importance of perfect rice. I can’t really say that Tomi is serving Jiro-level kind of rice but Koshihikari rice is good enough for me-for now.
Tomi Sushi offers good value set lunches – prices range from S$20 onwards. It is absolutely worth your try if you are working or living in this area.
Address: 238 Thomson Road, #02-11 Novena Square, Novena Square Shopping Mall, 307683
Kitchenette is a modest little bistro that serves French classics like Duck Confit and Coq au Vin. It is also a bakery (with a selection of homemade artisan bread) and a wine bar. If you are there in the day, try the Eggs Benedict ($14), the unrivaled KING of brunch dishes, but this one is served with their own homemade artisan walnut-rye bread.
They also have daily specials like 1-1 Fish and Chips on Thursdays and 1-1 Waffles on Wednesdays. Extremely pocket-friendly!
Address: 1 Goldhill Plaza, #01-11, Singapore 308899
3. La Ristrettos Cafe
La Ristrettos cafe is set up in the most unimaginable area – Novena Medical Centre, but is a good one no less. Situated on the 8th level, it boasts an alfresco garden area and an indoor communal dining table.
The view of the garden from the interior adds serenity to the overall dining experience. Try the selection of pastas ($14 onwards) here.
Address: 10 Sinaran Drive #08-37, Novena Medical Centre, Singapore 307506
—Below $15 Meals—
4. Craftsmen Specialty Coffee
The 3rd Craftsmen Specialty Coffee branch opened at Goldhill Plaza, Novena is a hit amongst the office crowd during lunch time. They have an impressive menu of all day breakfast that includes croissant sandwiches, sourdough, toasts and wraps. For sweets, they serve old school churros and buttermilk waffles. Craftsmen also pride themselves for serving a good selection of flavoured and non-flavoured coffee.
Address: 173 Thomson Road Singapore 307623
5. Once Upon A Thyme
Once Upon a Thyme first started out at Golden Mile Food Centre and has now shifted to the basement of Novena Square 2, just around the corner from Novena MRT gantry. The people behind this takeaway counter believes in honest and wholesome food made from the heart just for you.
You have to be prepared to wait for about 10 min as the pasta here is freshly cooked and prepared upon order. If you are chummy with the chef, he might just take your order over the phone. Try the Chicken and Mushroom Tomato Cream Penne ($6.90).
Address: 10 Sinaran Drive, Square 2, Singapore 307506
6. Pig’s Fly
Pig’s fly is a marketplace of 6 specialty stalls of Western, Japanese, Thai, British (Fish & Chips), Italian and Indian in a casual and non-conditioned coffee shop setting. It is an ‘atas’ coffee shop by day and a bar/beer place at night.
Despite the 6 kitchens, ordering and payment is fuss-free due to the centralized cashier. Try the Salmon Ikura Don ($7.80) from Kazoku Japanese Cuisine and ask the owner for the story behind his logo.
Address: 1 Goldhill Plaza, #01-05 , Singapore 308899
7. Ramen Monster
Ramen Monster is founded by Chef Yeo Kian Tiong who has a BA in Culinary Arts from Le Corden Bleu Culinary Academy in the USA. Chef Yeo developed his ramen stall with affordability in mind. You can expect ramen priced from $7.90 onwards here.
Spot the 5 cartoon characters plastered on the walls of Ramen Monster. Each one of them reflects a colourful, cheeky, happy and healthy family.
Address: 238 Thomson Road, #01-53, Velocity @ Novena Square, Singapore 307683
8. The Clueless Goat
Clueless Goat is one of the the latest addition to the F&B scene in Novena. As compared to the myriad of cafes we have, prices here are more affordable. There is no GST and service charge as well. They serve the typical waffles and eggs combination. Common Man coffee beans are used for the coffee here. If you are a fan, lucky you!
Address: 189 Thomson Road, Singapore 307631
—Below $5 Meals—
9. Katong Laksa
Katong Laksa originated from Joo Chiat area but with franchising opportunities, it is now available at Novena. The paramount concern of most foodies would be “Does it tastes as good?” Well, the soup tastes the same and the laksa is served with a spoon because like the original, the noodles are cut into shorter lengths.
However, dining at their flagshop store at East Coast Road evokes certain nostalgic feeling that you can’t get here at the Thomson branch. Still, I’d recommend this for a quick lunch fix-especially on a rainy day.
Address: 101 Thomson Road,#01-K1, United Square Shopping Mall, Singapore 307591
10. Ah Chew Dessert
Ah Chew Dessert at Liang Street has been a popular dessert place for many years now and the queue there is never-ending. Recently opened at Novena, they have kept much of its style. The familiar wood furniture, Chinese paintings and yellow tag menu on the table. If you like the legendary steamed milk at Yee Shun Milk Company in Hong Kong, be sure to order Ah Chew’s version.
Address: 181 Thomson Road, Goldhill Plaza, Singapore 307627
11. Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice
Wee Nam Kee needs no introduction. It is one of the older chicken rice store in Singapore with 26 years of experience under its belt. This is a place with subpar service because crowd is always streaming in- the wait staff just do not have the time to attend to you. It seems like chicken rice is suited for almost any meal of the day?
Address: 101 Thomson Road, #01-08, United Square Shopping Mall, Singapore 307591
12. Chye Kee Goldhill Roasted Chicken Rice
While their signboard reads ‘Chye Kee Roasted Chicken Rice”, I’d strongly recommend you order their dry macaroni. Dry macaroni is an uncommon kopitiam food but it sure makes for a good alternative to rice or noodle. The dry macaroni topped with blanched chye sim and roast chicken makes for a very satisfying and filling meal.
Address: 151 Thomson Road, #01-
13. Jalan Kayu Prata
I am not certain if this stall is a branch of the famous Jalan Kayu Prata since Jalan Kayu is synonymous to prata now. The shop space here, however, is but a fraction of the Jalan Kayu Prata (in Jalan Kayu road).
It is a popular lunch option for many. Apart from the usual egg and kosong (plain) pratas, they also serve creative prata dishes such as banana and milk. Prices here are also slightly steeper- probably because you have to pay a ‘premium’ to enjoy prata in a fully air-conditioned place.
Address: 101 Thomson Road,#
14. Tanjong Rhu Pau and Confectionery
Tanjong Rhu Pau is a favourite classic and prides itself for hand making their dainty pau up till today. The paus are smaller than usual and they are expensive ($0.70 each) but still it does not stop me from being a repeated customer.
I’d normally request to buy paus that are not yet steamed and will steam them myself for breakfast the next morning. Note: One is hardly enough.
Address: 72 Thomson Road, Singapore 307589