Kovan food stalls worth the queue
The insanely long line for Punggol nasi lemak along Upper Serangoon Road is iconic enough to be a landmark on its own. On second thought, I can name quite a few spots in this area with persistently long queues, which sends the must-try instincts of this typical Singaporean tingling. Here are 10 Kovan food places you shouldn’t miss out on if you venture into this neighbourhood.
1. Zao Lek Lok Lok
Eating should be as much about warming the heart as filling the stomach. At Zao Lek Lok Lok’s lok lok buffet (from $24), you get the best of both worlds as you huddle around a hot pot with a bunch of skewers. We recommend the fragrant and milky laksa soup base and getting your vegetable skewers deep fried. Be sure to make a reservation before heading down, especially if you’re visiting in a group larger than four.
Read our full review of Zao Lek Lok Lok.
Address: 207 Hougang Street 21, Paya Lebar Kovan CC, Singapore 530207
Opening hours: Daily 5:30pm to 11:30pm (last order at 11pm)
Tel: 6282 4005
2. Sun Kee Drinks
Decades have passed since the time people could get a bowl of noodles at just 10 cents. Sun Kee Drinks takes us back to the good old days with their drinks that go at $0.30 a cup. Their menu has just three choices – grass jelly, soya bean milk, and bird’s nest. Even at such an affordable price, their drinks are still gao and satisfying.
Read about our visit to Sun Kee Drinks.
Address: Blk 209 Hougang Street 21, #01-65, Kovan Market & Food Centre, Singapore 530209
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 6am to 3pm, or until sold out
Tachinomiya stands out among neighbourhood barbershops and hardware stores. This Japanese bar serves a rather comprehensive selection of alcohol and opens till late, making it a good midnight haunt. Order some finger food such as the umami Cheese Mentaiko Scallop ($3.50), Mentai Salmon Yakitori ($4), and Unagi Yakitori ($4) to go with a glass of Tachinomiya’s House Pour ($6.80).
Check out our full review of Tachinomiya.
Address: Blk 211 Hougang Street 21, #01-285, Singapore 530211
Operating Hours: Mon-Thur 11:30am to 2:30pm, 5:30pm to 12am, Fri 11:30am to 2:30pm, 5:30pm to 1am, Sat 11:30am to 2am, Sun 11:30am to 12am
Tel: 6286 0738
4. Sin Chie Toke Huan
Sin Chie Toke Huan is another joint for night owls, serving delicious curry rice (price varies) till 5am every day. Every grain of fluffy rice is coated in aromatic, mildly spicy curry. We particularly liked the soft braised cabbage that retained a pleasantly surprising crunch, as well as their flavourful and juicy prawn paste chicken. Get a complete meal with a bowl of cendol ($2) for dessert.
Read our full review of Sin Chie Toke Huan.
Address: 1018 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534756
Opening hours: Daily 6pm to 5am
Tel: 9003 5337
5. Qi Xiang Chicken Pot
Instead of the usual clear broth, Qi Xiang’s Chicken Pot ($26.90 for half, $37.90 for a whole chicken, $25.90 for two drumsticks) features dark soy sauce chicken broth. You get to pick your preferred level of spiciness and add a myriad of other ingredients from $2.90 per plate. Besides their signature chicken pot, Qi Xiang also offers Herbal Chicken Pot ($26.90 for half, $37.90 for a whole chicken, $25.90 for two drumsticks) and Frog Leg Pot ($28.90/$39.90).
Read our full review of Qi Xiang Chicken Pot.
Address: 973 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534725
Opening hours: Daily 4pm to 1am
Tel: 8458 1921
6. Gonpachi Ramen
Gonpachi Ramen serves ramen with prices starting from $7. Miso Kakuni Ramen ($7.80) comes with a light but flavourful chicken and pork broth, and is topped with chunks of smoky torched pork belly. Don’t miss out on their Green Tea Smoked Duck ($4 for five slices), which tastes like char siew and is coated in passion fruit vinaigrette.
Find out where else to get cheap ramen at less than $10.50 in Singapore.
Address: 212 Hougang Street 21, #01-329, Singapore 530212
Opening hours: Daily 11:30am to 2:30pm, 5:30pm to 11pm
Tel: 6584 1943
7. Heng Leong Teo Chew Porridge
Make a stop at Heng Leong Teo Chew Porridge on your supper trail. Trays of side dishes line the display, so you’ll be spoilt for choice at this stall. Add some flavour to a bowl of plain porridge with the savoury zhup of braised pork belly or minced pork in spicy black bean sauce. Their chai poh omelette and braised tau kee are classic choices you can’t go wrong with.
If you love Teochew porridge, check out iSteamboat for their Teochew Porridge Buffet that’s priced at $8.80++.
Address: 1006 Upper Serangoon Road, Tai Peng Gardens, Singapore 534744
Opening hours: Daily 6pm to 4am
8. Yam Mee
Kovan Food Centre can be characterised by the never-ending queues at the five stalls selling fishball noodles and bak chor mee. Each stall has its fans, but Yam Mee is my personal favourite. I always order Teo Chew Fishball Noodles ($3) that comes with two springy fish balls, one vegetable ball, a meatball, sliced mushrooms and minced meat. The vegetable ball is undoubtedly the star ingredient; it’s like a fish ball with bits of chilli and chives mixed in. Yam Mee’s lard-fragranced, springy noodles, and tasty chilli are also on point.
Address: Blk 209 Hougang Street 21, #01-35, Kovan Market and Food Centre, Singapore 530209
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 7am to 10pm
9. Yi Dian Xin Hong Kong Dim Sum
Yi Dian Xin Hong Kong Dim Sum is the place to satisfy dim sum cravings in Kovan. The fact that the dim sum here is relatively affordable is an open invitation to order enough to fill a table. Some items you must have in your feast are Steamed Carrot Cake ($2.20), Liu Sha Bao ($3.80 for three pieces) with a drool-worthy lava centre, and Har Gow ($3.50 for three pieces).
Check out these cheap dim sum places all around Singapore.
Address: 1012 Upper Serangoon Road, Teo Seng Eating House, Singapore 534752
Opening hours: Wed-Mon 7am to 5pm
Tel: 9168 5587
10. Hatter Street
Hatter Street’s waffles are accurately named Whoaffles ($9 with one, $12 with two scoops of ice-cream) – they’re that good. These oddly-shaped waffles have a crispy, biscuit-like exterior and a dense, slightly chewy interior. If you’re lucky enough to find pandan ice-cream on your visit, pair it with their gula melaka sauce ($0.50). Other sauce options include salted caramel sauce ($0.50) and chocolate sauce ($0.50).
Address: 212 Hougang Street 21, #01-333, Singapore 530212
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 1pm to 10pm
Tel: 6988 4591
Be part of the Kovan food clan
These 10 eateries are some of our favourites in the neighbourhood, but we’re sure there are plenty more gems. Let us know your go-to place in the comments below.