Last Updated: July 23, 2017
Southeast Asia is known for many things: deviance, superstition, and not least cheaply priced commodities, but odds-defiant Singapore – in its steady ascension in the sphere of popular metropolises to reside – is slowly and most surely seeing an estrangement from old, comforting food prices, which can profoundly shock miserly backpackers traveling in this decrepit region.
For the other coffeeshop regulars, finding out that the same bowl of ban mian (or cup of coffee or pack of Marlboros) can no longer be afforded with the exact change bought the last time is almost as frustrating and disconcerting as having to deal with a lifetime of irate weathers.
In search of a silver lining within the burgeoning terror we know as inflation, we are glad to be presenting 11 joints with meal prices less than or equal to $2 that have surrealistically stood the test of time.
While it would be ludicrous to expect a huge portion with only $2, the size of the meals we list here are QC-ed to at least satiate a hobbit. For good measure, non-meal candidates like Chee Cheong Fun, Chwee Kueh, and Kaya Toast are automatically excluded.
Nevertheless, by virtue of such lovely deals, getting one’s food at these stalls will require some serious patience. As with the chicken and egg, it’s hard to tell whether the long queue or the good deal came first. All we know is that cheap food is always good.
With that said, let’s see what remains of the good old days, when Singapore hawker meals were no more than $2:
At this Tampines Street 81 stall which offers the typical multitude of delectable additions like gizzard and egg, the basic serving of juicy chicken rice is sold for just $2. In fact, we hear that the same plate here used to go for as low as a dollar. Amazing.
Address: 823A Tampines Street 81, Singapore 521823
Operating hours: 9am to 9pm (closed on alternate Mondays)
Tucked in the corner of the famous Hong Lim Food Centre, VI Economical Mixed Rice offers 3 meats + 1 veg for only $2 with a rice addition gratis. What trickery is this?
You can be assured to revel in the scrumptious selection of local Chinese dishes that includes the all-time favourite braised pork belly and curried chicken.
Address: Hong Lim Food Centre and Market, 531A Upper Cross Street, #02-34, Singapore 051531
$2 here will get you the standard serving of either an oiled chicken rice, char siew rice, roasted pork rice, or roasted duck rice. Though we probably paid even lower for the same portion in the primary school epoch, the range of sauces and pretty high-grade char siew plus roasted pork makes this stall in Bugis so irresistible for large parties.
Address: 269B Queen Street #01-235, Singapore 182269
Operating hours: 9am – 8pm (closed on the first Wednesday every month)
Why “Cooked Food” is part of its name is at times puzzling, considering only 1 item is sold. In this one-man outfit, the smallest portion of masterfully-fried white or black carrot cake is a worthy $2. Those who prefer the black version will be pleased to know that the owner fries all his homemade carrot cakes with a double serving of sweet sauce.
Address: Redhill Food Centre, 85 Redhill Lane #01-49, Singapore 150085
Operating hours: 3pm – 1am (6am – 1am on Sundays)
At the refurbished Bedok South Market & Food Centre, it is most heartening to see that $2 Mee Rebus and Soto Ayam said to contain a delicious chicken stock can still be procured at Warong Jawa, whose owner confesses that his low prices are targeted at the more price-sensitive housewives who chiefly contribute to his sales. Top up the extra sweet and spicy chilli here at your own peril.
Warong Jawa also has an excellent Nasi Lemak set for just $2.80 including fried chicken wings.
Address: Bedok South Market and Food Centre, 16 Bedok South Road, #01-17, Singapore 460016
Operating hours: 6am – 1pm
A dish seemingly endangered in this era, Satay Bee Hoon at the recently revamped Chinatown Food Street comes with tau pok, shrimp, and cuttlefish generously dressed in the creamy and revered satay sauce. While that goes for a minimum of $5, the owner is open to serving a more carb-intensive portion of plain bee hoon with the delicious thick reddened gravy for just $2. Philanthropic much?
Address: Chinatown Food Street, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335
Operating hours: 11am – 11pm
The kind that is fried with cockles, bean sprouts, sliced fishcake, pork sausage with a light-coloured finish, this wetter-than-average concoction has been the owner’s raison d’etre for the past 40 years and a $2 staple at the Tiong Bahru Food Centre.
Address: Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre, 30 Seng Poh Road #02-11, Singapore 168898
Operating hours: 11am – 10.30pm (closed on Wednesdays)
Though similar to prata, chapati can be considered a rarer dish, and at Azmi Muslim Restaurant, which sits at a little corner on the crossroads of Norris Road and Upper Serangoon Road, each freshly made chapati is priced at $0.80, and dal goes for $1.20.
For a heartier meal at a reasonable upgrade, you will be able to savour the likes of Chicken Masala ($3.50) and Goat Brain ($3) to accompany the unleavened bread.
Address: 170 Norris Road, Singapore 218052
Operating hours: 7am to 10:20pm
Being a regular quick stop for comparatively decent $2 chicken rice and $2.20 nasi lemak in multiple areas over the country, the no-frills Ananas Cafe appears to have a fast-food-esque supply, for we notice that every outlet is able to last the full day.
Perhaps the chain’s success can be ascribed to the deceptively steep upsizing of its value meals. We have also noticed that different area outlets will have slight pricing differences.
Addresses: 21 outlets conveniently located at various MRT stations over Singapore (Simei, Kembangan, Aljunied, Toa Payoh, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong,Woodlands etc.)
Operating hours: 6am – 11pm
We have heard that Frenzlink Cafeteria – a restaurant located in the CBD with an oriental, almost Hong Kong-like makeup that provides a healthy selection of noodle meals like Minced Pork Noodles, Wanton Mee, Prawn Mee, and Laksa for either $2 or $3 – is a splendid breakfast retreat for ravenous skivers.
Address: 62 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058692
Operating hours: 9am to 11pm
For $2, this laksa is a steal with its amazing presentation of a light orange broth coating ample servings of cockles and fishcake. The near 40-year old stall utilizes a charcoal fire for its laksa that comes with already-trimmed noodles, so the spoon is all you would require for a stain-free meal. It tastes amazing and is probably one of the best value-for-money $2 meals on this list. Excelente!
Address: Jin Shui Kopitiam, 27 Jalan Berseh #01-100, Singapore 200027
Operating hours: 9am to 6pm (closed on the first and third Wednesdays every month)
Related Guide: Best Breakfasts Places in Singapore Better Than Brunch
Editor’s End Notes
For all our sakes, we hope circumstances don’t change for these blessed affordable stalls, but in the face of rising costs, there is no telling when the magically pristine number of 2 will be forever eradicated. Before any price-related calamity befalls the listed national culinary treasures, we encourage all interested parties to pay them a visit.
Also, do note that the worms are quickly sold out, so it would be wise to peck early. Do share with us any other $2 stalls still in Singapore so we may add them to the list!