A trip to the IT Show easily takes up a whole day. With countless booths to explore, each offering its own unique deal, it will be difficult to pull yourself away to grab a snack midway. You might miss out on a flash sale if you do. It’s best to get a good brunch before doors open at 11am. In order to help you get the most for your dollar, we head out to scout some of the best areas to eat around the IT Show.
1. Suntec City
Eating within Suntec City might be the most practical option so that you don’t have to stray too far away from the action at the IT Show.
Nam Nam Noodle Bar (#B1-131) is a Vietnamese restaurant specialising in rice flour noodles, known as Pho, as well as sandwiches at very affordable prices.
The Pho Chicken ($9) and Pho Beef Steak Slices ($10) are excellent soupy selections with broth that warms you from the inside out. The beef slices are served medium rare to retain a softer texture, making it easy to enjoy the noodles and beef together. Remember to make the request upon ordering if you prefer you beef cooked more thoroughly.
A big favourite is the Spicy Minced Meat Pork Ball Noodles ($10). It is very similar to our local Dry Bak Chor Mee Kia but uses instant noodles instead. The real kicker is that Nam Nam adds a runny egg. When you mix all the ingredients together, the egg helps the minced meat to cling onto the noodles while giving the noodles a silky texture.
A variety of Bahn Mi - toasted baguette sandwiches, are also available at $6.90 each. Each Bahn Mi comes with a healthy dose of peppers, pickled carrots, daikon and cucumbers. Select the topping that you like best from a selection of savoury meat combinations like Vietnamese pork ham with cream cheese, Chili-lemongrass chicken with omelette and chicken Floss or caramelised 5-spice pork belly.
Vegetarian options for both the Pho and Bahn Mi are also available.
There are also two food courts within Suntec City, Food Republic (#B1-115 to 120), which is slightly closer to the IT Show, and Kopitiam (#03-367). The best thing about heading to the food court, other than the prices, would be the variety of cuisines available and ample seating. You may have to jostle with the crowd for a bit but with perseverance, lightning reflexes and perhaps a little willingness to share tables with fellow diners, you will get a seat in good time.
Over at Food Republic, check out the Balinese Cuisine stall for Indonesian BBQ like Ayam Panggang ($6) and BBQ Squid ($6.50). The friendly auntie may give you a slightly bigger chicken thigh if you look really hungry (she did for me!).
If you are a fan of noodles, Formosa Delights is the stall to head to for their Formosa Handmade Noodles ($5). A mainstay at almost any Food Republic, this ban mian stall is well known for their freshly cut noodles that are sliced from the mound of dough and straight into the pot of boiling water.
Head on up for to Kopitiam (#03-367) for an alternative if Food Republic doesn’t work for you. Located on level 3 in the East Wing, Kopitiam is right next to the Alive Museum. Priceshere are slightly cheaper and the food court offers a very good selection. A couple of stalls stand out amongst the others.
The first is Pepper Lunch Express. This franchise has been around for years but the formula hasn't changed much. It's rice with beef ($6.90) or salmon ($7.50) served on a sizzling hot plate. Add a dash of garlic soy sauce, then as the instructions state - mix, mix, mix! The thinly sliced meat cooks quickly and as the juices flow from the meat, the natural flavours get infused into the rice, resulting in a fragrant and delicious fried rice.
Another stall that caught our attention is the Curry Ipoh Hor Fun. Most other places in Singapore prepare their Ipoh Hor Fun with shredded chicken but over here, their signature Hor Fun comes with mushrooms and a chicken cutlet ($4.80). The original version with shredded chicken ($4.80) is also available as the healthier choice. There’s also the option to use curry instead of the usual mushroom-based sauce.
2. City Link Mall
There’s a good chance you’ll be walking through the City Link Mall if you are heading to the IT Show by MRT. City Link Mall connects MRT stations City Hall and Esplanade to Suntec City. It also hosts some of the latest dining concepts at really good prices!
The latest branch of Hong Kong’s famous Tim Ho Wan is located at #B1-63/63A, just at the entrance of City Link Mall from City Hall station. While the lines at Tim Ho Wan are almost as famous as their sweet and savoury char siew baos, this particular branch has a takeaway counter – a first for the chain in Singapore. So if you have not tried Tim Ho Wan before, here is your chance!
The takeaway selection may be smaller, but their best offerings such as the Baked BBQ Pork Bun ($5.60 for 3), Rice with Chicken, Sausage & Mushroom ($6.90) and Spring Roll with Egg White ($4.80 for 3) are available. Tim Ho Wan’s strict quality control assures that even with takeaway, the buns are served hot and the sweet crust that coats the surface is still crunchy to the bite. The trade-off here is that you’ll have to eat on the go, which may not be a bad idea if you rushing to get to the IT Show early.
For a sit down meal, follow the mall to Paik’s Bibim (#B1-19). Paik’s Bibim puts a convenient spin on the traditional Korean bibimbap – a healthy mix of rice, a generous serving of vegetables and just the right amount of meat or tofu for a balanced meal. Another nice touch is that you can add the red chilli paste or gochujang to your taste.
Beef Bulgogi and Teriyaki Chicken ($8.50) are popular choices while vegetarians can have Marinated Tofu ($6.90). For kids, small eaters or as a takeaway snack, consider the adorably named “Teriyaki Chicken Cupbap”, a mini-portion of bibimbap in a paper cup ($4.90).
Located right next door to Paik’s Bibim is Idaten Udon. Part of the RE&S group that operate restaurants such as Ichiban Boshi and Green Pumpkin, Idaten Udon is all about having your noodles the way you like it. Begin your udon experience by selecting the noodle type followed by deciding how it is prepared. Want to keep things simple? Go with Kake Udon ($5.80) the plain soup version, or Kamatama Udon ($6.80) that comes with a half-boiled egg.
Once you have your steaming bowl of udon, proceed to pick out your preferred tempura sides. Here’s where you have to exercise some self-control and limit yourself to about one or two items as each piece is about $2 to $3. Here’s a tip, look out for items that have been freshly prepared by the chef instead of items that have been displayed for a while to ensure maximum crispiness.
Despite the name of the place, Idaten Udon also offers non udon dishes like Beef Curry Rice ($9) or Beef Sukiyaki Rice ($9) for a fuss free, single item order.
3. Shaw Tower
Right next to Watsons in the North Wing of Suntec is an overhead bridge that will take you across Nicoll Highway. Lots of office workers from Suntec head across this bridge every day For lunch as there are plenty of affordable places to eat not more than 15 minutes away. The first building you’ll come across is Shaw Towers. This unassuming building and the streets just beyond it are havens for good quality and affordable food.
There is a Qiji (01-10) offering their famous Nasi Lemak, Laksa and Popiah. The fantastic thing about the Popiah ($2.20 per roll) at Qiji is that they do not use peanuts in their mix, making it suitable for folks with allergies. The peanuts are replaced with little crispy crumbs that give the popiah a unique crunch. The humble spring roll is nothing to scoff at either as all those veggies in them will fill you right up. Qiji also offers five different combinations for their Nasi Lemak, all of them halal and under $10.
Directly across Qiji is Burrito Pasta Maria (01-58A). As the name of this Halal café suggests, it’s got burritos and pastas. What it doesn’t suggest however is that they also do a mean burger. The BPM Burger will set you back $5 or $6, depending on whether you go for the chicken or beef patty. While it doesn’t come with any sides, you don’t really need any. The burger is sizeable and filled with surprises. Instead of a sunny side up egg that you can get from most burger joints, the BPM Burger comes with generous dollop of scrambled eggswith cheese. The buttered sesame bun that sandwiches the whole ensemble is toasted just enough to bring out the fragrance of both the sesame seeds and butter. You can smell your burger before you even see it. One could argue that there are better patties at other burger places but I say the extras in the BPM more than make up for it.
4. Purvis Street and Middle Road
Across Beach Road from Shaw Towers are the parallel lanes of Purvis Street, Seah Street and Middle Road.
Opposite Shaw Towers is the Bulkhaul House (21 Middle Road), where you can find Supreme Pork Chop Rice. Search online for this place and you’ll find that this store has changed locations multiple times and their fans have tracked them down each time. Visit this place and you’ll understand why.
The Taiwanese style pork chop is different from its Hainanese cousin in that a slightly thicker serving of pork is used. The meat is also battered instead of breaded. The colour of the pork also suggests that the meat has been marinated longer, as the meat is a shade darker than usual. Each pork chop is deep fried to crispy perfection and yet when served, is barely oily at all.
When ordering, pick between pork chop or chicken cutlet, white rice ($4.30) or fried rice ($4.80). Regardless of the combination you select, the dish will come with a side of preserved vegetables and peas, carrot and corn mix.
The biggest downside to Supreme Pork Chop Rice is that they cater for the office crowds and is closed on Sundays. However, Chin Chin Chicken Rice (19 Purvis Street) is not.
There are at least 3 other Hainanese Chicken Rice places in what is supposed to be Singapore’s Hainanese Quarter, all with their own merits, but Chin Chin wins our favour on the virtue that it’s the closest to the IT Show. Prices for individual servings of chicken rice start from $4 but a small group can share half a chicken ($14) or a whole ($28). The meat is served on a separate plate from the fragrant chicken rice so as to avoid soaking the chicken rice with the savoury oil that is basted on just prior to serving. The flatter, leaner Hainanese Pork Chop ($6/$10/$15) is another common side dish ordered at Chin Chin. These pork chops are cut thinner and do not appear to be heavily marinated. The secret, it seems, is in the sauce. The tomato based sauce incorporates other sauces and flavours, resulting in a balanced blend of sweet and savoury.