When I first made the move to live in Sembawang, I feared that there would be a dearth of places to eat at.
But thankfully, I was proven wrong!
If you happen to be in the Yishun-Sembawang area of Singapore, you will find that it has metamorphosed from a rural, tree-filled area to one with established urban developments that includes a host of delights for foodies. One only has to burrow deeper into Singapore’s northern treasury of food to find a smorgasbord of eating delights.
And what I am most thankful for is that they are not a strain on the pocket!
Spicy Spicy Xiao Chi Laksa
For those who have not tried this spicy noodle concoction, laksa is a scrumptious blend of noodles, fishcake, prawns and stellar cockles (“hum” in hokkien). The delicious mix is given an added boost with a spicy gravy mix of dried red chillies, lemon grass, shallots, brown onion, tumeric, candienuts, shrimp paste and the must-have inclusion of coconut milk.
Xiao Chi Laksa does not shortchange on its ingredients. Customers are always more than happy with the generous servings. I can hardly finish the bowl when I am presented with one as it seems to be enough for two persons!
Image Source: http://web.stagram.com/location/5806498
Xiao Chi Laksa is so popular that the vendor usually closes his stall by 7 pm. I have to rush through my dinner, something I dislike as a true blue Singaporean. So do grab your laksa early!
In the Yishun heartland, Xiao Chi Laksa is at Block 928, Yishun Central 1, #01-157 Nice Snack Corner.
Swimmingly Delicious Fish N' Chicks
By far, this is one of the best places I would ever want to “makan” at in Sembawang! Fish and Chicks, as its name suggests, is a cafe which serves very good western fare. The most popular dish at this restaurant would be the ever-generous serving of fish and chips! The portion can feed two and many leave the restaurant more than satisfied. The fish, gently deep fried, is cooked to crispy perfection.
The best part about this small cafe is that it serves local fare as well. It is easy to get a bowl of flat white noodles or ‘hor fun’ at Fish and Chicks. Again, the portions are more than satisfactory, and leave one feeling as though his stomach is bursting happily at the seams.
Fish N Chicks is located at 602B Sembawang Road, next to Sembawang Shopping Centre.
Image Source: Author's Photos - Fish N Chicks at 602B Sembawang Road.
The Yummiest Nasi Lemak in Sembawang!
"Lemak" is a Malay term referring to being filled with coconut. For the uninitiated, Nasi Lemak refers to a must-try rice dish prepared with coconut milk, accompanied with side dishes of fried chicken, cucumber, poached eggs and crispy fried fish.
There is also the addition of ‘sambal’ - a hot serving of chili paste prepared with a mix of shallots, red onion, garlic, spice paste, salt, sugar and “belacan" or prawn paste. The preparation of this dish is done under stringent conditions at Chong Pang Nasi Lemak, so Singaporeans are assured of the best quality when they tuck in.
The Nasi Lemak at this little coffee shop at Chong Pang is not just limited to chicken, poached eggs and fish. There are a whole host of mouth watering side dishes to choose from. A must-eat is the crispy fried peanuts or otah, tender fish prepared lovingly with spice paste.
Be sure to check out the variety of dishes that it offers, namely achar (pickled vegetables), tempura (prawn in mouth watering flour batter) and Ngoh Hiang (tender, crispy fried meat rolls). The variety is indescribable and certainly what I look for when it comes to good food.
For foodies in the great quest for the delicious, Chong Pang Nasi Lemak is at 447 Sembawang Road.
Image Source: http://www.chongpangnasilemak.com/
The Tastiest Fried Noodles in Sembawang - Tian Tian Cooked Food's Hokkien Mee
Hokkien Mee is a Singaporean is another local fare. For new diners of this local offering, all I can say is that Hokkien Mee is a luscious mix of yellow noodles, bean sprouts, spring onions and seafood.
When I first tasted the noodles at Tian Tian, the buah keluak chili sauce set this particular incarnation of the Hokkien Mee apart from what's cooked in other kitchens across the island. It's prepared using the black buah keluak nut, an ingredient essential in Peranakan cooking.
The hot sambal or chili paste, blended with the fermented bean taste of the buah keluak nut, gives it a unique and rich flavour. It also brings me closer to my Peranakan roots.
For those who do not take kindly to spicy dishes, have no worries as these noodles are still as mouth-watering without the spicy concoction.
The stock layered over the noodles is also prepared with much care and it adds to the tastiness of the noodles. Made with pork bones, prawn shells and clams, it gives the noodles a medium bodied, rich and original taste.
When you happen to be in Sembawang and are searching desperately for a bowl of hokkien mee to satisfy you, you could find the Tian Tian Cooked Food's Hokkien Mee at Chong Pang Market Food Centre, 104 Yishun Ring Road, perfectly suited to your palate.
Image Source: Author's Own
Do Your Food Sums at Sum's Kitchen.
Sum's Kitchen and Hong Kong Roasted Meat is a little coffee shop tucked away in Sembawang Road. You might miss this treasury of delectable Chinese cuisine if you do not look carefully enough. It serves a scrumptious array of Chinese dishes, from its tender roast duck to the more localised dish of sambal kangkong.
A personal favourite is the roast chicken offered at this establishment. It is truly succulent and falls practically off the bone.
When Singaporeans enter a Chinese restaurant, one of the first dishes they order is roast chicken and I am no different. Bad food experiences, though, have given rise to some fears. I particularly detest it when I bite into a piece of chicken only to find it too tough to chew, but the chicken at Sum's Kitchen is reassuringly trustworthy.
I simply love chowing down at homey restaurants such as this one. The atmosphere is relaxed and one can do what Singaporeans love to do - makan with total peace of mind and enjoyment. Sums brings a little bit of home to food.
Sum's kitchen is located at 3, Jalan Legundi opposite Sembawang Shopping Centre.
Image Source: Author's Photos - Sum's Kitchen
Aston's Restaurant - Bringing the Western to Sembawang
This is one restaurant I find a little trouble getting a place at as the waiting line outside the restaurant is simply too long! My advice to those coming to Aston’s is to go at a time when it is not lunch or dinner hour. Your chance of getting a seat would be so much better.
Singaporeans are willing to wait, and wait for a long time, for really good food. The food at Aston’s is truly a marvel, for really reasonable prices. Try the fish and chips - the portions are hearty, for less than $10. The fish is fresh, succulent and fried to a crisp with very little grease. A true feast for the tongue and senses.
Do visit Aston’s Restaurant at Level 4 of Sembawang Shopping Centre.
Image Source: Author's Own
Fat Fish Restaurant - Steamboat With No Grease
Having steamboat together with family is a truly Singaporean pastime - one which brings back wonderful memories for myself and my family. And you can carry out your next family steamboat outing at Sembawang in the local Fat Fish Steamboat.
The name of the restaurant is a bit misleading as the fare there isn't exactly oily or greasy. What's on offer is actually quite healthy and their Wagyu beef is particularly tender, lean and succulent. You don't necessarily have to worry about accumulating fat in your tummy after a hearty meal.
Personally, freshness is the key to a good steamboat dinner. Fat Fish uses only the freshest seafood and meats and so the ride on this particular steam boat can be a comfortable and refreshing experience.
Fat Fish Steamboat is located at the basement of Sembawang Shopping Centre.
Image Source: Author's Own - Fat Fish Steamboat
Heavenly Rice Rolls at Pang Food Centre!
Those who are not as familiar with Chee Cheong Fun or Zhu Changfen should know that these delicious rice rolls are served with a huge dollop of sweet sauce and chili which make a surprisingly tasty final product. My mother used to serve her rice rolls with fragrant sesame oil and seeds and it's great that I can relive the breakfast experience at a store that is equally dedicated to the dish.
Pang Food Centre's Chee Cheong Fun offers a variety of fillings and pork floss is definitely worth a try. The thinness of the rice rolls, combined with the melt-in-your-mouth pork floss makes this dish truly enjoyable. If you are not partial to pork floss, they also have succulent prawn, chicken, mushroom and even char siew (roast pork) to choose as accompaniments to the main dish.
Pang Food Centre Chee Cheong Fun is located at Pang Food Centre Block 104/105, Yishun Ring Road.
Image Source: Author's Own
Sembawang's Eating Haven at Kung Fu Paradise
Kung Fu Paradise boasts excellent fusion fare, hosting an array of Hong Kong, local and Western fare served in a comfortable ambience. You have to try the beef noodles where the delectable taste of tender cuts of beef is given an added boost with the inclusion of poached egg. Sample the noodles alongside a Chicken Cutlet and I promise that the combination will comfortably fill your tummy for hours afterwards.
Another Singapore experience that I truly enjoy is sitting down at the local coffee shop and taking in a cup of teh tarik with friends. Kung Fu Paradise does not take the coffee shop experience away as it serves low budget meals in a very comfortable, coffee shop-like setting which is open till the wee hours of the night.
Kung Fu Paradise is located on the first floor of Sembawang Shopping Centre, 604 Sembawang Road.
Image Source: Author's Own - Kung Fu Paradise at Sembawang Shopping Centre
Say "Sawadee" at Sawadee Thai Cuisine
If you are in the mood for Thai Food and are in the Sembawang area, pop in to say Sawadee to the owners of Sawadee Thai Cuisine and they will be only too glad to welcome you. The food is prepared by Thai Chefs who reigned supreme at Purvis Street and they make no bones about showing their skill.
I must say it straight. I am extremely picky about Thai food.
There have been occasions when I have felt cheated eating at Thai restaurants but Sawadee does not disappoint in that regard. A must-try is the fried chicken wings stuffed with minced chicken or Peek Kai Sord Sai. Try this crispy, moist fried chicken and you will be assured of a taste worth savouring.
Sawadee Thai Cuisine is located at 5 Jalan Legundi, opposite Sembawang Shopping Centre.
Image Source: Author's Own - Sawadee Thai Cuisine at 5, Jalan Legundi
When you are in Yishun or Sembawang and your stomach growls fiercely, do take a look at these ten places for some soothing relief. Your day in this area can easily become a food and fun-filled one!