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If you are hungry while shopping along Orchard Road, there is no need to break the bank to feast.
Singapore's glitziest shopping stretch may be home to fine dining restaurants, fast food outlets and rather pricey food courts, but cheap eats abound - if you know where to look.
Life!Weekend sussed out 20 spots where you can get food and a drink for $7 or less - about the price of a KFC two-piece chicken meal or a McDonald's extra value meal.
Where to go for a cheap meal at Orchard Road
While meals at these smaller stalls are cheaper than the usual Orchard Road fare, shopkeepers say that keeping food prices low has not been easy, citing inflation and escalating rentals.
Many have had to raise food prices to keep up with increasing overheads.
However, they are reluctant to raise prices by more than 50 cents each time to avoid complaints from regular customers, who form the bulk of their clientele.
"We're afraid that by raising prices too much, we'll chase our customers away," said Madam Ng Siang Choo, 73, who owns Tasty Treat, a 29-year-old stall at Far East Plaza selling local and Western fare.
"Unfortunately, business here has been declining. There are so many new malls springing up and not that many people come here anymore," she lamented.
To suppress prices, these food operators resort to strategies such as constantly sourcing for new suppliers and buying in bulk.
Richard Robinett, owner of Ang Mo's Family Cafe
Mr Richard Robinett, 38, who runs Ang Mo's Family Cafe at Cuppage Plaza which sells local and Western food, said: "I am constantly hunting for the cheapest suppliers who provide the best quality.
"I tell my supplier: 'If I find somebody who has lower prices, I will go to him.' I will give him a chance to match prices, but if not, I will then go with the lower one," he said, adding that he has changed suppliers five times in a year.
But he is aware that quality counts and is not averse to giving customers free meals to get feedback when he makes a supplier switch.
The retired American navy personnel, who married a Singaporean, also expanded his eatery from an 18-seater to a 45-seater in September.
He said: "I can keep my prices low as long as I can keep my customer flow, but if people do not come in then, of course, I do not have the quantity to maintain a low price."
About 70 to 80 per cent of his customers are regulars.
Mr Adam, 43, who opened Nora Indonesian Food Corner at Midpoint Orchard this April, has also introduced a loyalty programme system to keep customers coming back. It costs $15 to purchase the three-month membership, and members get 20 per cent off meals.
Nora Indonesian Food Corner is now offering a loyalty card to customers
Shoppers in the know are glad they have alternatives to the usual air- conditioned foodcourts or fast-food chains.
Ms Teresa Armstrong, a 50- something retail staff member who eats at Hainanese Delicacy at Far East Plaza at least three times a month, said: "Ion's Food Opera is more expensive, so I prefer to come here or go to Lucky Plaza for lunch."
Public relations executive Adam Choo, 32, whom Life!Weekend spotted eating at JTown Cafe at Midpoint Orchard, said: "There are quite a few cheap and good food stalls along Orchard, but they're usually not in the big malls."
But it is also possible to find reasonablypriced eats in the glitzier malls.
Secretary Ng Xin Ying, 28, said: "Some of the food at the kiosks in the basements of Ion or 313@Somerset may be even cheaper than at the foodcourt. You just need to know where to look."
With Life!Weekend's guide, you will know exactly where to go a-hunting.
What: Stall-owner Cedric Tan dishes up roast pork ($5), Hainanese pork cutlet ($4.80) or roast chicken ($4.80), served with a choice of pasta or rice, and keropok; curry noodles ($4.80), meatball soup ($4). Also available at the foodcourt are canned drinks ($1.50), lime juice ($2) and Milo ($1.30)
Where: Stall 9, Asian Food Mall, Lucky Plaza Basement, tel: 8688-2559 Open: 11am to 9.30pm daily
What: Chicken rice ($4), additional egg (50 cents); canned drinks ($1.20)
Where: 05-116 Far East Plaza, tel: 6734-0639 Open: 10am to 8pm daily
The Old Malaya Cafe
What: Chicken curry set with rice and a drink ($6.50), Pontian wanton noodles ($3.50), assam laksa ($5), prawn noodles ($4.50); canned drinks ($2), homemade barley ($2)
Where: B3-10 313@Somerset, tel: 6634-1123 Open: 10am to 10pm daily
What: Dry mee hoon kueh ($4), fried mee tai mak ($4), nian gao with yam and sweet potato ($1.20); canned drinks ($1.40), coffee or tea ($1.10)
Where: 04-96/98 Far East Plaza, tel: 6734-2312 Open: 10am to 8pm, Mondays to Saturdays
Ang Mo's Family Cafe
What: Cafe owner Richard Robinett serves fish and chips and drink sets ($6.80), pig trotters with rice and drink sets ($6.30, above), laksa and drink sets ($4.80), chicken rice and drink sets ($4.80); kopi-o ($1), coffee ($1.10)
Where: 01-07/12/13 Cuppage Plaza, 5 Koek Road, tel: 8302-2741 Open: 7.30am to 9pm daily
What: Chicken cutlet ($4.50), fish and chips ($4.50), side portion of vegetables ($2/$4), claypot rice ($4), sweet and sour chicken rice ($4.50); canned drinks ($1.50), coffee or tea ($1).
Where: 05-96/97 Far East Plaza, tel: 6734-7309 Open: Noon to 9pm daily
Orchard Yong Tau Fu
What: At Madam Tan Siew Eng's stall, a minimum of seven pieces of food items cost $4.20; homemade barley ($1.10)
Where: 01-09 Cuppage Plaza, tel: 9067-5245
Open: 8am to 6.30pm, Mondays to Saturdays
What: Nasi lemak with crispy chicken ($3.50), nasi lemak with prawn ($3.80); kumquat juice ($1.50/$2), bottled water ($1.50)
Where: B2-771 Takashimaya, tel: 6400-7458 Open: 10am to 9.30 pm daily
What: Cafe owner Alvian Haryono serves a weekday lunch set (noon to 3pm) from $4.80, which consists of bakmie ayam (Indonesian-style chicken noodles), three meatballs and iced green tea
Where: B1-04/05 Midpoint Orchard, tel: 6733-1180 Open: Noon to 9pm daily
What: Nasi padang consisting of a quarter chicken, a vegetable dish and rice ($6); teh-o ($1)
Where: 02-04 Lucky Plaza, tel: 6887-4702 Open: 10am to 9pm daily
Nora Indonesian Food Corner
What: Nasi padang (beef rendang or lemak chili padi chicken, vegetable dish, rice at $3.50, right), lontong ($3.50), mee rebus ($3); canned drinks ($1), coffee or tea ($1)
Where: B1-08 Midpoint Orchard, tel: 8152-1625 Open: 8am to 7pm daily
Punggol Nasi Padang
What: Mee siam ($4.50), nasi briyani ($6), nasi lemak sets ($5), nasi padang (one seafood dish, one vegetable dish and rice; $5); kopi-o ($1.40), kopi tarik ($1.50), Milo ($1.60)
Where: B4-06/89 Ion Orchard Open: 9am to 10pm daily
Riverside Indonesian BBQ
What: Ayam panggang set ($6.60 with drink), ikan panggang set ($6.30 with drink), ayam goreng set ($6.60 with drink), gulai ayam set ($6.60 with drink); beverage choice of either orange or lime juice
Where: B3-44 313@Somerset, tel: 6733-1180 Open: 10am to 10pm daily
Inasal Philippine Barbecue
What: Filipino pork sausage ($5.50), smoked milk fish ($5.50), corned beef ($5.50), all served with garlic fried rice, a fried egg and pickled papaya; canned drinks ($1.50)
Where: 04-49/50/51 Lucky Plaza, tel: 6733-2752 Open: 9am to 10pm daily
Zagu Food & Drinks
What: Set meal of two dishes, rice and canned drink for $5.50. Dishes include beef steak, chicken adobo (cooked in vinegar and garlic sauce), pork adobo, various meats cooked caldereta style (cooked in a tomato sauce with spices) and vegetables
Where: 04-19/21A Lucky Plaza, tel: 6734-3216 Open: 9am to 9pm daily
What: Nasi briyani ($5.50), nasi goreng ($3.50), mee goreng ($3.50), nasi goreng seafood ($4.50); coffee (90 cents), teh tarik ($1), Milo dinosaur ($3)
Where: 01-21 Orchard Plaza Open: 24 hours
Ofira Amazing Thai Food
What: Thai tom yum with rice ($5.50), green curry with rice ($5.50), chicken kway teow soup ($4), phad thai ($4.50), chicken cutlet with rice ($5), pineapple fried rice ($5); coffee ($1.20), tea ($1), Milo ($1.20), hot lemongrass drink ($1.50)
Where: 01-20 Far East Plaza, tel: 8650-3055 Open: 11am to 9pm, Mondays to Saturdays
Jane Thai Food
What: Phad thai ($5), fried kway teow ($5), tom yum fried rice ($5), salted fish fried rice ($5), thai fried rice ($5), beef noodle soup ($5); Thai iced tea ($2), canned drinks ($2)
Where: 04-30 Orchard Towers, tel: 9174-1616 Open: 11am to 4am (Mondays to Fridays), 5pm to 4am (Saturdays), 4pm to 3am (Sundays)
The Flyin' Bread
What: $4.90 for a barbecued chicken or beef wrap (comes in several flavours including black pepper and chilli); calamansi drink ($2)
Where: B3-43 313@Somerset, tel: 6884-6328 Open: 10.30am to 10pm daily
Xiao Bar Wang
What: Mee sua and milk tea set for $4, braised pork rice ($3.80), crispy chicken and rice ($3.40 and $1.50, sold separately); milk tea ($1)
Where: B4-33 Ion Orchard, tel: 8130-0684 Open: 11.30am to 9.30pm daily
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on December 21, 2012. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.
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