Tom yum soup on the Circle Line, nasi lemak on the North-South Line, even steak on the East-West Line - who says your MRT train rides have to be drab and dull?
It’s a gloomy fact of life, but many of us do spend a considerable portion of our daily lives just commuting on the MRT train. But whether you’re off to the grind or shuttling your slogged self home, you still gotta get some grub, right? Thankfully, we can always count on these restaurants and cafes that are conveniently scattered throughout (and within) the MRT network; filling our bellies while the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life pushes on. From Chinese food in Tanjong Pagar to Japanese cuisine in Woodlands, we lay out 10 restos that make our public transport experience more bearable.
Tanjong Pagar (EW15) – China Square Fried Fish Soup
After being crammed with dozens of elbow-jabbing commuters, you might wanna de-stress with a comforting bowl of fish soup. Like most fish soup stalls in hawker centres (except you’ll be scooping and slurping in air-conditioned comfort here), you can either have your chunks of fish slices fried golden-brown or steamed to retain their silky texture. And remember to ask for extra milk if you want that mildly-sweet taste and creamy consistency!
China Square Fried Fish Soup, 120 Maxwell Road, #B1-28/48 Tanjong Pagar Xchange, Singapore 069119. Open Mon-Fri 7am-9pm, Sat 7am-8pm, closed Sundays.
Esplanade (CC3) – Hainanese Curry Rice
Whenever lunchtime plagues office workers and shoppers alike with growling stomachs, you can always count on this crew of curry-meisters to hit the spot. Preserving the Hainanese tradition of drenching your rice with loads of soy sauce-infused curry, this franchise always attracts return patrons who crave some gravy-fied grub. You can choose from various sets, or mix-and-match from dishes like sayur lodeh, sunny side up eggs and – definitely the most popular of the lot – scissors-cut pork chop.
Hainanese Curry Rice, 90 Bras Basah Road, #B1-35 Esplanade Xchange, Singapore 189562. Open Mon-Sat 8am-7pm, closed Sundays.
Dhoby Ghaut (CC1, NE6, NS24) – Jai Thai Restaurant
We’re guilty of daydreaming about that Bangkok vacay while waiting for the train. When wanderlust hits really hard, we have ourselves a taste of ol’ Siam with this Thai restaurant franchise. There are plenty of authentic Thai classics to choose from – tod mun pla fish cakes, pineapple rice, phad Thai, and green curry. And if you’re looking for a spicy kicker that’ll burn off the day’s frustrations, there’s always the tom yum!
Jai Thai Restaurant, 11 Orchard Road, #B1-12 Dhoby Xchange, Singapore 238826, p. 6338 5766. Open Mon-Sat 11.30am-3pm, 6pm-10pm, closed Sundays.
Ang Mo Kio (NS16) – Ya Kun Family Cafe
Contrary to what you might think, the Ya Kun brand isn’t just known for its crispy, buttery kaya toasts and peppered half-boiled eggs. In this beefed-up extension on the North-South line, you can get stuffed with sandwiches filled with curry potatoes, rendang chicken, sambal shrimp and tom yum seafood. Local favourites like chicken curry, nasi lemak and mee rebus are also available, lest you get the munchies on the way home.
Ya Kun Family Cafe, 2450 Ang Mo Kio Ave 8, #01-12/14/15 Ang Mo Kio MRT Station, Singapore 569811, p. 6457 0031. Open Sun-Thu 7am-10.30pm, Fri-Sat 7am-11pm.
Bukit Batok (NS2) – Jing Wu Martial Duck Neck
It’s hardly surprising to chance upon light tidbits like cupcakes and bubble tea in an MRT station. But stewed duck necks? Now that’s an unusual find that truly gets our attention! Hidden within the far corners of the red line lies this Szechuan eatery that specialises in this piece of poultry. Spicy and chewy, this is the kinda snack we’ll be happy to munch down with a beer. Necks aside, you can also ‘tapow’ other unorthodox goodies like duck kidneys and webbed feet.
Jing Wu Martial Duck Neck, 10 Bukit Batok Central, #01-15 Bukit Batok MRT Station, Singapore 659958.
Woodlands (NS9) – Pepper Lunch
Sometimes (and if you’re lucky), your train trips will feel like a winter wonderland when the air-con’s blasting at maximum capacity. But lest you’re getting the shivers en route home, you can always settle for a sizzle – on a hot-plate no less. This Japanese franchise is consistently brill with the grill, conveniently and promptly serving you with your own personal hot-plate platter of hamburger steaks, soy-sauce veggies and pepper rice. Can’t beat this heat!
Pepper Lunch, 30 Woodlands Avenue 2, #01-35/36/37 Woodlands MRT Station, Singapore 738343, p. 6364 1109. Open daily 10am-10pm.
City Hall (EW13, NS25) – Yomenya Goemon
Though it’s technically not inside the bustling train station, it’s situated just a few paces away from the control station inside Citylink Mall – which is sorta near enough! This unconventional spaghetti house pairs Japanese cuisine with Italian; think pasta dishes cooked using Japanese ingredients like salmon wasabi soy sauce, mentaiko shrimp and hon shimeji mushrooms. Oishii with a capital “Ooooo…”.
Yomenya Goemon, 1 Raffles Link, #B1-63A Citylink Mall, Singapore 039393, p. 6735 5725. Open daily 11.30am-9.30pm.
Aljunied (EW9) – Ho Chiak Cafe
Make a stopover at this Chinese eatery along the green line for bah kut teh (pork rib soup) that’s simply delicious, or as Hokkien Chinese would say it – “Ho Chiak!”. Instead of dividing the BKT camps with contrasting broth recipes, this cafe serves both the peppery and herbal versions – catering to Teochew and Malaysian tastes. You can even get your fill of fatty meat with simmered pork trotters, and get enticed by entrails with sinful kueh chap sets.
Ho Chiak Cafe, 1006 Aljunied Ave 5, #01-12 Aljunied MRT Station, Singapore 389887. Open daily 10am-9pm.
Raffles Place (EW14, NS26) – The Connoisseur Concerto: TCC
Everyone’s familiar with TCC’s flair for cheesy baked rice – gobsmackers include the scallop and baby crayfish baked rice, and the curry purple rice. But instead, we wanna vouch for TCC’s breakfast menu, which is totally suitable for commuters who need a boost of energy to kick-start the long day that awaits. With wake-me-ups like croissants stuffed with scrambled eggs and pancakes topped with smoked salmon (there’s even striploin steak if you need a hearty brekkie!), there ain’t nothing you can do during the unearthly AMs.
The Connoisseur Concerto: TCC, 5 Raffles Place, #B1-63/64/65 Raffles Xchange, Singapore 048618, p. 6438 3006. Open Mon-Fri 10am-10pm, Sat 10.30am-6.30pm, closed Sundays.
Bukit Gombak (NS3) – Lung Zi Gaa
Branding itself as an ‘urban’ local kopi and teh cafe, this eating house brandishes an alternative menu that might elude the expectations of your average aunties and uncles. Instead, you’ll find mains like chicken parmigiana (herb-crusted chicken breast with Italian sauce and melted mozzarella), pacific ocean dory covered with crispy herb cereal, and Mexican quesadillas that you can fill with smoked salmon or shaved ham. Even ah mas can be converts, right?
Lung Zi Gaa, 802 Bukit Batok West Ave, #01-10 Bukit Gombak MRT Station, Singapore 659083, p. 9012 8644.