If you’re looking for some OG street food, you’ll never go wrong with Geylang.
The area gets a bad rap for the unadventurous. After all, as Singapore’s most prominent red-light district, it’s easy to make a wrong turn into a sleazy alleyway. Yet, those familiar with the area will be able to meander their way through the best dining gems in the neighbourhood.
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Sik Bao Sin, or Eat First in English, specialises in familiar Cantonese classics. The menu only serves a lean 13 items, each crated with culinary expertise. Here, get a serving of the collagen-heavy Steamed Fish Head, served with a generous serving of fermented bean paste, lard and shallots, or other favourites like the Tofu Prawns, plated on a bed of silky beaten eggs that goes incredibly well with rice. Make sure to come at about 5.30pm if you’re coming to dine for dinner — the cosy bistro opens its evening service at 5.45pm, but you’ll find many queuing outside within minutes.
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J.B. Ah Meng Restaurant is one of the most iconic shops among the Geylang stretch of restaurants. The owner, who, unlike the name, hails from Ipoh, Malaysia, serves up Malaysian-styled Chinese dishes that have won over the hearts of chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain. On just about every table, you’ll find plates of its signature San Lou Bee Hoon, a wok-fried rice vermicelli dish, and the highly addictive fiery White Pepper Crab.
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Geylang Lor 9 Fresh Frog Porridge is a staple for those looking for a mean bowl on congee. Diners have a choice of two different flavours here — the spicy dried chilli and spring onion mix or the regular dark sweet soya sauce with ginger and spring onion alternative. No matter which one you get, each piece of meat is perfectly glazed with the addictive sauce, which complements the smooth Cantonese congee that’s served on the side. If you’re feeling particularly hungry, the hearty beef hor fun noodles from across the street is up for orders as well.
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126 Dim Sum Wen Dao Shi could just be the best place in Singapore to get an authentic dim sum experience. The humble locale, its affordable plates, and loud chatters from the staff and diners will make you feel you’ve stepped into a hidden Cha Chaan Teng in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. Other than your regular small plates like siew mai and hargow, 126 Dim Sum Wen Dao Shi also serves bowls of porridge, soup and rice for those feeling peckish more than usual.
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There’s nothing more comforting than a bowl of Ban Mian on a cold rainy day. The piping hot bowls at L32 Handmade Noodles are filled with an MSG-free broth that simmers for up to eight hours, creating a delightfully clean-tasting base for the starchy noodles. It is then topped with crispy ikan bilis, mincce pork and pork slices for a classic Ban Mian touch.
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Here at Tan Ser Seng Herbs Restaurant, you’ll find large claypots that are generously packed with a soup and meat — turtle, if we have to be exact. The rich, sweet soup dish is made fresh daily with a recipe that dates back to 1946 and is packed with tons of collagen. The delicacy is prized for nutritional properties: think lower blood pressure and blood detoxification, for instance.
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Swee Guan Hokkien Mee is one of our top five spots for Hokkien Mee in Singapore. There, we’ve said it. The sloppy plates of noodles are fried over charcoal for a beautiful, smokey flavour that’s been infused with a rich prawn broth and then topped with thick squid rings and deep-fried pork lard.
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Sean Kee Duck Rice is one of Geylang area’s biggest secrets. Guests dining alone can always opt for a regular plate of duck rice, but we recommend coming with a bigger group so that you’ll be able to get the platter, a generous portion of braised duck, tofu, egg and other vegetables that’s bathed in a thick, lip-smacking gravy.
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