Cheap & Cheerful – Cheng Li Yuan

I love Geylang.

It gets a bad rep from being the red light district of Singapore but it has an amazing local food scene. It doesn’t feel like you’re in Singapore, if that makes sense. I felt like I was in the streets of Vietnam or Bangkok – not the polished streets of District 1 or around Paragon but the gritty side streets that makes getting lost worthwhile.

Now Geylang is not easy to navigate. Since it is very local, there are times when English is sparse at best. So Chris and Steve (my sister’s lovely friends) recommended their favourite Chinese restaurant. Steve, bless him, texted me what to order in Chinese which saved me a whole lot of trouble since I just showed the waitress the SMS.

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Watch out for this sign, it’s almost impossible to find the resto without this – and don’t be scared if all you see are groups of men drinking. I was the only female there aside from the waitress.

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Pumpkin and salted egg (南瓜咸蛋黄) – an amazing starter

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Eggwhite with crabmeat and broccoli (赛螃蟹). This is served with raw egg on top which the server will mix around and let cook in the dish’s heat. It’s then topped up with black vinegar for a tangy finish.

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Cereal Prawn (麦片虾) – always a classic

Steve also recommended the beancurd skin (东北大拉皮) but we had too much already, maybe next time!

Cheng Li Yuan can be found at 136 Sims Avenue Singapore 387584.

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Cheap & Cheerful – Lee Fun Nam Kee Chicken Rice

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Soya Chicken

There will always be a massive debate whenever you ask anyone in Singapore where the best chicken rice is. It’s a highly emotional and extremely subjective topic (as most discussions on food, politics and religion are). I was pleasantly surprised with the chicken rice at Lee Nam Fun Kee. I personally was not a fan of this dish since I often find it too bland for my tastes but it was really well done here – juicy, tender chicken with a light fresh flavour. Well worth the trip to Toa Payoh.

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Steamed Chicken

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Roasted Pork Belly

Cheap & Cheerful – Soho’s Polpo

Soho is our go-to place whenever we want something casual, trendy and different. We’ve been wanting to eat in Polpo (Venetian food) for the longest time but walking in is impossible and reserving a table is near-impossible. Luckily, we were able to get one during our last Saturday in London. We almost didn’t when the host looked at us and said “Your reservation is for 2. You have a baby. That’s 3 not 2 people.” Maybe it was the look of hopelessness on our faces that made him move the seating arrangement a bit to accommodate us.

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The food was simple and delicious. A welcome break after our mad dash to tick off London restaurants from our bucket list. I especially enjoyed the cuttlefish and ink gnocchi, gremolata. The lamb and pistachio meatballs were nice. I see a lot of pistachio popping up (we had a lemon and pistachio pasta at Zucca) so it must be a seasonal ingredient.

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(L-R) Cuttlefish & Ink Gnocchi, gremolata / Pork shoulder & Pickled Pepper Pizette / Lamb & Pistachio Meatballs

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Borough Market Food Tour

Borough Market is our neighbourhood foodie haven here in Southeast London. It’s also the go-to place whenever people visit us from abroad and they tell me to take them somewhere “local”. Admittedly, it’s a healthy mix of tourists and locals but the food is fabulous and cheap. There are lots of stalls but below is the route I usually take. Just buy 1-2 of the dishes (depending on how many you are) and share so that you’ll have space for everything. Think of it as a buffet!

Starting at Southwark Cathedral, go down the steps towards Borough Market. With the cathedral to your right and the first row of stalls to your left, go to the very end to Kappacasein where they serve the most delightful raclettes and cheese toasties.

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New potatoes, gherkins and cheese – glorious cheese!

Right in front of Kappacasein is Fish! a fish and chips restaurant. Turn left towards the entrance of Fish! but do not go in. It sounds strange but the same restaurant has a takeaway counter right beside it where you can have fish and chips at half the price of eating in.

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Cut through the market entering through the arch in front of Fish! and don’t worry if you get distracted along the way, that’s half the fun). Go to the very end where you’ll see Le Marché du Quartier. In a big paellera, you’ll see duck confit being cooked. Grab a duck confit sandwich before heading to the last stop.

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Last but not least, head towards the road but do not cross it. Turn right and you’ll see Brindisa where you’ll see chorizo sandwiches being prepared.

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Go for a double (I know you want to!) – 2 chorizos, rocket and bell pepper.

If you’re not bursting yet, cap things off with a coffee at Monmoth right in front of Brindisa. They have excellent coffees from all over the world and super helpful and knowledgable staff who’ll tell you the different nuances of the beans. They’ll be able to grind your beans according to use – french press or stove top.

Do you have any favourites that I might have missed?