Sick of living off instant ramen because of your student budget? Here are some relatively affordable South East Asian eateries that really give you a bang for your buck if you’re after something filling. They probably average around $12 a dish – which sounds like a lot, but let’s be honest, one plastic tooth costs $8.

In no particular order:

Pondok Daun


Overall: technically Indonesian food, but very similar to Malay food nonetheless. All-round great tasting food with large portions

Best for:

Mi/mihoon/nasi goreng (wok tossed noodles and rice)

Crispy fried whole Tilapia fish topped with sweet-sour tomato Balado sauce (Ikan Nila Balado) – served with rice and complimentary “MSG” soup

Smoky, tender grilled meat – skewered satay or in thick slabs

Bonus (for Malaysians): opportunity to practice your rusty Malay with the super-friendly staff that runs the place

NanYang Café @ Renaissance Arcade


Overall: dishes are more Chinese-based but everything there tastes amazing – most of you would have been here

Best for:

Flat rice noodles in egg gravy (wat tan hor)

Wok-tossed flat rice-noodles (char kway teow) – this is so good that I’ve had this at least once a month for the past three years

Note: cash only! (and ATMs aren’t that close)

Thanh Thanh


Overall: ok, this is just full-on Vietnamese, but it’s good anyway! Prices are decent with loads of seating – come when you’re a group of fifteen and you haven’t made a reservation elsewhere on a Friday night

Best for:

Durian/custard apples smoothie – guys this is some legit stuff. Hands down the most realistic durian or custard-apple smoothie I’ve ever had, much better than the ones at Pondok Daun


Star of Siam



Café Michael 2


Overall: both are Thai places

Best for:

Tom yum soup – closely resembles the Malaysian experience



Overall: probably serves the broadest range of Malaysian food. I know the Malaysians are scoffing, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers

Come for:

ABC (air batu campur, shaved ice desert) – this is the only restaurant that I have found to serve it satisfactorily

Chicken curry with roti canai/prata (crispy Indian flatbread)

Warong @ Lower Ground Floor Rundle Place


Overall: a food stall at Rundle Place food court which is super conveniently located

Best for

Location – I’m serious, it’s great for a quick bite during shorter lunch breaks

Ming’s Steamboat (or Hong Kee, which is right across the road)


Overall: ironically, I’ve never actually tried their steamboat, but all the other Chinese dishes are amazing with generous portions

Best for:

Salt and pepper pork trotters – crispy, fatty and tender, this is honestly pretty much magic on a plate

Chef Lai


Overall: general Malaysian food paired with their decent prices and authenticity

Best for

Ambience: the place looks pretty run down from near and afar, and while that might put some people off, it just adds to the feeling of a real kopitiam back home.

Reviewed by Kit a.k.a Lim Ee Ling 



Click here to see more great articles!.