Because good food doesn’t need to be expensive

By: Asher T.

Photo Credit: Flickr/Choo Yut Shing

“Where shall we eat after this?”

“Don’t want, sure very crowded!”

“So expensive!”

Many of us face these questions with friends and struggle to find a space that has enough seats, delicious food, and of course, does not create a huge dent in our wallets. Today, I will take you to hidden gems that I frequent with my friends on the weekends and after church; these selections will guarantee you a bang for your buck.

Note: I am a proud Eastie and self-proclaimed budget eats connoisseur.

Wan Mei Dessert

A tranquil corner that offers desserts ranging from $5.50 – $6.80. If you’re in the mood to treat yourself (or a friend), I highly recommend the $12.80 Snow Ice Set, which you can customise with 3 toppings!


This tiny and unassuming dessert shop in The Odeon Katong is a quiet place with a few regulars from the vicinity patronising it. Get ready to be greeted with emerald walls, pastel-coloured flowers and a giant sign of the store name – a play on the words “perfect” and “bowl”.

They offer a bevy of simple yet delicious Hong Kong-style desserts, including the classic Mango Pomelo Sago and Black Sesame Paste! Want to add some colour to your life? They offer interesting toppings like rainbow sprinkles and mango paste! 

But do note that this place is a little cozy, so I suggest giving them a call before heading over to the store. This family-owned business will surely be the Orh-Nee place you will want to be at!

Jin Yu Man Tang Dessert

5 words to describe this place: ‘Only 8 dollars and under!’

Who says Chinese dessert places cannot be hip? Jin Yu Man Tang, which draws design inspiration from the area’s Peranakan roots, defies all stereotypes! This good-looking eatery is the perfect spot for chilling with your buddies on a hot afternoon. 

Psst – if you’re hankering for dinner, they offer a wide range of savoury food too, including dishes like Secret Sauce Chicken Wingettes, cheese sausages, and Hong Kong-style curry fish balls. And for brave and adventurous souls, the cafe also offers a few different kinds of chicken feet.

Texas Lone Star @ Tanjong Katong

Delicious Western food priced from $9.30 to $11.30!

Post for HOGC Stories, 5 Budget Friendly Places in Paya Lebar for friends and family to gather. Katong
Credit: Asher Tan

Feeling more like having mains than sweet treats? A stone’s throw away from the cafes stands a humble coffee shop that serves scrumptious Western food.

Grilled Chicken Chop with Mushroom Sauce at Texas Lone Star, Post for HOGC Stories, 5 Budget Friendly Places in Paya Lebar for friends and family to gather.
Credit: Asher Tan

One of their signatures is the grilled chicken chop with mushroom sauce. Expect creamy rich mushroom gravy with a generous heap of pilaf rice and coleslaw (corn was added separately).

Fish and Chips at Texas Lone Star, Post for HOGC Stories, 5 Budget Friendly Places in Paya Lebar for friends and family to gather.
Credit: Asher Tan

Another go-to would be the fish and chips. Crispy on the outside, moist on the inside! 

The coffeeshop is well decked with seats, perfect for large groups! If you are thinking of driving here, do note that parking options are limited in the nearby housing estates, so consider taking public transport instead!

They open daily from 11:30 am– 9.30 pm.

Katong Mei Wei Boneless Chicken Rice (K.T.M.W)

A one-person set meal costs only $5.90; includes a hearty soup and mouth-watering achar!

For great chicken rice in Katong, look no further than K.T.M.W! A set meal will give you a standard portion of chicken rice, their soup of the day (usually a peppery cabbage soup or pork soup with lotus and peanuts), and their achar, a sour condiment comprised of cucumber, onions, carrots, and pineapples.

Warning: I am highly biased towards this food selection, but it is just so, so, so good. Childhood nostalgia!

A perfect meal to be shared with banter among friends! Be sure to come early as they often close earlier when their chicken gets sold out. You snooze, you lose!


Isshin Machi 一心一町

Prices range from $7.80 -$13. Mesmerising ambience and mouthwatering Taiwanese food take you on a gastronomical journey to the mountains of Alishan.


Isshin Machi is a contemporary Taiwanese cafe that offers humble, hearty classics like braised meat rice and beef noodle soup. There is a wide selection of main dishes, snacks, and drinks – great if you have friends with varying appetites! 


The place has a warm, cheery atmosphere, with friendly service crew speaking in a distinctive Taiwanese accent. Reminds me of my trips to Taiwan!

As a dog owner, I love that they’re pet-friendly too!

As the saying goes, “Laughter is brightest where food is best.”

So there you have it, my 5 budget-friendly food places near Paya Lebar. I hope this makes it easier for you to choose where to eat and chill with your friends! (Remember to take photos!)


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