Two Dollars' Worth

Cheap (and rather good) eats are still out there. Challenge hunts down some hearty hawker fare that fills you up on $2 or less. - Text by Siti Maziah Masramli, Photos by John Heng

Sungei Road Laksa


There are many laksa stalls with similar names but the real McCoy is at the junction of Jalan Berseh and Townshend Road. When stall founder Wong Yew Hwa opened the stall in 1956 at Sungei Road, a bowl of laksa was just 20 cents. Now, a bowl of laksa (about the size of a rice bowl) comes at $2 with bean sprouts, fish cake and very fresh cockles. Over a large charcoal-fired pot, the killer gravy is made with fresh coconut milk instead of condensed milk for a lighter taste so it is not as “jelak” as other more popular laksa variants. Upsize for a $3 bowl or down two small bowls for an unforgettable meal.
Where: Block 27 Jalan Berseh, #01-100 Jin Shui Kopitiam, Singapore 200027
Opening hours: 9am to 6pm (Closed on first and third Wed of each month)
Available for $2: Laksa
Value for money: 4/5 stars

Frenzlink Cafeteria


The array of $2 choices here is a real surprise as Frenzlink is right in the heart of downtown Singapore. The nondescript stall has been selling $2 food for 18 years, mainly to loyal customers. The wonton, fishball and laksa noodles are standard fare, but be warned that the bak chor mee isn’t quite the usual – it looks like lor mee with its dark soup, and tastes nothing like the typical. Despite moving to various locations along South Bridge Road, its prices have not changed. The wide variety of food attracts customers, leading to more bowls sold each day, helping the owner to continue selling at affordable prices. Now, Frenzlink is known in the area as the “$2 kopitiam”.
Where: 62 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058692
Opening hours: 9am to 11pm
Available for $2: Fish ball noodles, bak chor mee, laksa, wonton noodles
Value for money: 4/5 stars

Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice


The portion is good, the chicken tasty, and the chilli spicy. The only grouse is that $2 will buy you only the ‘white’ chicken rice and you have to cough up an extra dollar for roasted or lemon chicken. When he opened his stall at Smith Street a decade ago, owner Zhang Rong Ji priced his chicken rice at $2 because of the elderly living nearby. “Many of them live in 1-, 2-room flats, and they can only afford cheap food,” says Mr Zhang, who learnt the art of cooking chicken rice from his younger brother. Though he might raise the price next year due to rising food costs, he assures that the new price will still be lower than what most other stalls offer. So, chicken rice fans: make your way there and eat to your hearts’ content before that happens!
Where: 56 Smith Street, Singapore 058961 (opposite Chinatown Complex)
Opening hours: 10.30am to 11pm daily
Available for $2: ‘White’ chicken rice
Value for money: 4/5 stars

May Flower Roasted Meat Specialist


There are plenty of $2 choices inside Chinatown Complex. But May Flower beckons with its bright blue neon sign, shouting out its affordable menu. Don’t expect a life-changing experience – just a fuller stomach on pretty decent fare. On why he sells food at $2, owner Kum Kah Keng says wryly: “You must look at the location; if my stall is at Orchard Road, people will be scared to eat $2 rice (as they expect food there to be more expensive). But here in Chinatown, people can hardly afford a $3 meal.” He is referring to the elderly who live nearby, some of whom pick cupboard boxes for a living. Mr Kum dishes out extra rice for free and charges a meagre 30 cents for additional meat. “I’m not a charity and I also need to survive, but the old people here lead hard lives and I just hope to make their lives easier by selling cheaper food.”
Where: Block 335 Smith Street, #02-44 Chinatown Complex, Singapore 050335
Opening hours: 9.30am to 9pm daily (closed two Fridays a month)
Available for $2: Wonton noodles, char siew rice, roasted duck meat with rice
Value for money: 4/5 stars

Navayugathin Nalan Unavagam


Opened in March this year by the Navayugam Trust to “share good, healthy food with people”, the stall only serves a vegetarian menu and bills itself as ‘100% Freshetarian’. Thosai and other light foods like idly (steamed ‘cakes’ of rice and black lentils) and puttu (steamed rice flour with coconut) are made on the spot, while prepared food is not kept for more than four hours. Stallholder N. Madhu Sudhana Reddy explains that they believe “good food will be spoiled in four hours, and only fresh food should be eaten for good digestion and a healthy body”. Other Tekka Market food stalls offer thosai varieties for less than $2, but here, almost everything on the menu is less than two bucks.
Where: Blk 665 Buffalo Road, #01-223 Tekka Wet Market, Singapore 210665
Opening hours: 6am to 9.30pm daily
Contact: 9239 3004
Available for $2: Various thosai varieties, idly and puttu
Value for money: 5/5 stars

Ananas Cafe


Halal-certified Ananas Cafe outlets can be found at many MRT stations, each with varying menus, prices and service standards. The three-year-old Aljunied MRT outlet has a roomy air-conditioned seating area. The nasi lemak sets are the only items on their menu that are priced (and loudly advertised) at $2 to attract busy commuters. The generous serving of pandan-infused coconut rice comes with a piece of egg omelet and a fried chicken wing or fish fillet and sausage. The sambalchilli is satisfying, though the sets do not come with cucumber or ikan bilis. (No, they didn’t forget to add them.)
Where: Aljunied MRT, 81 Lorong 25 Geylang, Singapore 388310
Opening hours: 6am to 11pm
Available for $2: Nasi lemak and bee hoon sets
Value for money: 3/5 stars

Inspirasi Stall


Be prepared to wait as there is always a long queue. Mdm Saonah Ahmat, daughter of stall founder Sermi Karjiwalawi, says there is “no secret” to the stall’s popularity. “Maybe because the price is cheaper, the taste is different, or the customers enjoy our service,” she chuckles. Her mother, Mdm Sermi started the stall 30 years ago, selling food made from her late husband’s Indonesian recipes. Hand-shredded chicken slices are generously added to the mee soto and soto ayam. Freshly made sambal chilli is laid out for customers who decide how spicy their broth should be. The award-winning stall has had its fair share of publicity, and a regular stream of customers allows the prices to be kept at $2.
Where: Blk 207 New Upper Changi Road, #01-11 Bedok Interchange Food Court, Singapore 460207
Opening hours: 11am to 11pm daily (closed on Hari Raya)
Available for $2: Mee rebus, mee soto, soto ayam
Value for money: 5/5 stars


Editor: Have you been to these stalls? Tell us your experience and if you know of more $2 places, email us at
    Sep 8, 2011
    Siti Maziah Masramli
    John Heng
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