Five unexpected locations where you'll find good food
Sick of waiting for a table at a popular restaurant? Look hard enough and you will find some hidden gems. We point you towards five of them
251A, ARCADIA ROAD
Tucked within the nature reserve and obscured by rows of condominium, this old-school restaurant offers home-style Chinese fare in a cosy setting.
Owner Grace Lee says her joint has been a fixture in the area for 15 years.
"Some of our regular customers have become friends. They treat the restaurant like home, helping themselves to tea and the utensils whenever they eat here," she adds.
Many of the customers do not even live near the restaurant.
"They usually drive here from all over Singapore and it gets really crowded on weekends. The residents (in Arcadia Road) usually "dabau" (take-away in Mandarin), especially on Sundays when their maids have their day off," she says.
Ms Lee maintains that she does not advertise her business and much of the publicity is through word of mouth.
"They come here, like our food, and recommend (our restaurant) to friends and family," she adds.
The signature dishes worth the drive here include fried chicken, pork chop and homemade tofu with a sprinkling of minced pork and turnip.
THE BOILER LOUISIANA SEAFOOD AND BEER
18, HOWARD ROAD, #01-06, NOVELTY BIZCENTRE
Located in Tai Seng Industrial Estate, the communal dining concept restaurant is just a short walk from Tai Seng MRT station.
Owner Malcolm Hong says he picked the location because of the space, cost of rental, ease of parking and human traffic.
"We would be paying over four to five times higher in hot spots such as Holland Village or Mohd Sultan Road," he explains.
With the changing landscape of industrial areas, The Boiler serves "the younger executives and business owners with decent purchasing power. No longer are they (industrial estates) populated by only blue-collar workers", Mr Hong says.
"We see a more sophisticated and younger group of executives and business owners who are deprived of a casual dining and drinking place," he adds.
The food here is American with a strong Southern influence and its speciality sauce, The Works, uses many Cajun ingredients.
The Boiler's Bombdiggity Bag (above) consists of, among others, crab and prawns.
THE CATCH SEAFOOD RESTAURANT & BAR
27, COSFORD ROAD
Wanting a place with a rustic feel away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the owners of The Catch decided to go deep in the bowels of Cosford Road.
The Catch is near Changi Prison and Selarang Camp and is not easily accessible by public transport as the nearest bus stop is a five-minute walk along a dark and deserted road.
Says The Catch's operations manager, Mr Danny Tan: "We were located at Pasir Ris Farmway 2, but had to move. We were looking for a place that is far from town and could accommodate our large tanks. When we came across this place, it was a perfect fit."
Having officially opened only six months ago, Mr Tan says it is quieter during the weekdays, with the lunch crowd comprising mainly airline workers, freight personnel and prison officers.
"It is generally more crowded during evenings and weekends. We see people from all walks of life coming here. Many spend the weekend here and have meals in the evening."
The Catch's signature dish is roast chicken stuffed with glutinous rice. Its mee pok with XO sauce (above), and lala clam boiled in Chinese wine are also worth trying.
CACIO E PEPE
3, CHU LIN ROAD
In the quiet and placid Hillview estate sits a lively little Italian joint.
"Being new in this business, we were not comfortable spending too much on rental. We want to focus on the quality of the food we serve to customers. And this, essentially, has been the working formula in the six years since we started," says one of Cacio E Pepe's partners, Ms Chia Bee Eng.
Cacio E Pepe was originally located in Rochdale Road and moved to Chu Lin Road in 2011. It offers restaurant quality home-style food.
As for its menu, Ms Chia says there is no focus on a particular region of Italy.
"Our wide and extensive menu includes appetiser, soup, risotto, salad, pasta, pizza, meat and fish. We make our own dessert too," she adds.
Some of its specials in recent weeks included rack of lamb (above) and mackerel with mash and salad.
Seven out of 10 customers are locals who travel from different parts of Singapore. Others even come from overseas.
"We had a prince from Saudi Arabia dining here with his family during their visit in 2010," Ms Chia recounts.
THE RESTAURANT AT ORCHIDVILLE
82, SUNGEI TENGAH ROAD
Come admire the flowers and while you are here, have a meal or two.
That is the pitch owner Joseph Phua has for his restaurant.
"We want to encourage visitors to come and appreciate orchid flowers and the farm surroundings, and get away from the concrete jungle for a little while," he says.
Mr Phua's offerings are healthy, with reduced sodium and sugar.
"But it doesn't mean it's tasteless. The taste comes from the freshness - the vegetables are from our farm and the seafood is from the market," he says.
Customers include the elderly and their extended families, as well as church and grassroots groups, especially during public holidays and weekends.
And the signature dishes they zoom in for? "Our famous crispy fusion pork knuckle with salad and curry fish head," says Mr Phua.
Another dish the restaurant serves is sliced pork (above).