As I have grown up in the heartland of Toa Payoh, I have always been able to enjoy a smorgasbord of unbelievably delicious cuisine at wallet-friendly prices, served with heart-warming smiles.
The vibrant food scene can be attributed to the rich history of the mature residential estate. In the 1960s, Toa Payoh was the second town developed by the Housing and Development Board (HDB). It was the birthplace of budding cottage industries such as bean sprouts, sauce and soy bean curd-making, and the manufacturing hub of local delights, such as chwee kueh (rice cake) and kway teow (noodles), just to name a few.
In this article, we take a walk down the Toa Payoh Food Trail, which features four hidden food gems within four local food haunts. (You’ll need the walk to shed all the calories!)
Map of Toa Payoh Food Trail: A gastronomic journey to remember. Photo Credits: Google Maps
First stop: Lorong 1 Toa Payoh West Coffeeshop and Market & Food Centre
The underrated coffeeshop and food centre in Lorong 1 Toa Payoh West deserves its day in the sun. From Hong Yun Seafood’s magnificent 白米粉 (White Bee Hoon) to the Chey Sua sisters’ heavenly carrot cake, this heartland haven is a foodie’s paradise. But its wonderful offerings have usually been shared only by word-of-mouth.
1. Hong Yun Seafood
Location: 124 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, #01-459, Singapore 310124
Shopfront of Hong Yun Seafood, tucked in the corner of a quiet coffeeshop. Photo Credit: Google Images
Hong Yun White Bee Hoon, a feast for the eyes. Photo Credit: ieatishootipost
Besides the impressive quality of zichar, the coffeeshop restaurant also provides air-conditioning within a partitioned part of the shop, allowing customers to enjoy a mouthwatering meal in cool comfort. Of all the dishes, the 白米粉 (white beehoon) stands out for its flavourful robustness. The moist noodles are cooked in an eggy broth, with crunchy bits of pork lard that explode in the mouth between bites of chye sim, chewy squids, fresh prawns and lean strips of pork. Bring your friends and family to share this must-try dish, along with other popular zi char favourites, such as sambal kangkong, har cheong gai (deep fried prawn-paste chicken), yam ring and curry fish head.
2. Chey Sua Carrot Cake
Location: 127 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, #02-30 Toa Payoh West Market and Food Centre, Singapore 310127
Chey Sua Carrot Cake has been known for the long queues at the stall. From the crack of dawn, the Chey Sua sisters begin pan-frying their beloved dish for hungry breakfast-goers at the market. What makes the carrot cake so special? Besides the radish cake being homemade and steamed the night before, the cooking technique is unique. The result is that one side of the carrot cake is crispier and spicier; and the other lightly fried, topped with generous servings of egg and garnish.
Chey Sua White Carrot Cake, served piping hot. Photo Credit: Google Images
Second stop: Block 190 Food Alley at HDB Hub
Next, a quick ten-minute walk from the market would bring you to the bustling heart of Toa Payoh’s HDB Hub, a cosy town centre balancing old-school vibes with modern metropolis feels. However, don’t let the busy facade fool you. Tucked away behind a row of shops along Block 190 lies Food Alley, a hidden stretch of diverse food joints for the discerning.
Food Alley, a hidden stretch of cosy food joints in Toa Payoh HDB Hub. Photo Credit: Google Images
3. Biang Biang Noodles Xi'an Famous Food
Location: 190 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, #01-518, Food Alley, Singapore 310190
Authentic Xi’an Biang Biang Noodles and savoury rou jia mo (stuffed meat buns). Photo credits: Edgeprop
I love writing food pieces because of food offerings like these: This shop offers the most authentic and mindblowing Xi’an biang biang noodles and rou jia mo (meat buns) I’ve tried in my life. Served in quaint decorative bowls, the biang biang noodles were a comforting mix - with warm tomatoes and eggs, paired with cool cucumber strips and wide, flat slices of homemade noodles, doused in Chinese chilli oil and a secret savoury sauce that spelt ‘回味‘ (reminiscence) with every bite. The rou jia mo - served toasty warm and filled with spiced pulled pork, also made it onto my list of favourite comfort food. With a crisp oven-baked exterior and juicy, meaty interior, it was no wonder the shop was filled with loyal patrons longing for a true taste of Xi’an.
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Check out another guide which features Five supper spots at Holland Village to satisfy every taste [Food Guide]. Enjoy!
Third stop: Kim Keat Palm Market and Food Centre
Continue to stroll along the streets of Toa Payoh to Lorong 7’s Kim Keat Palm Market and Food Centre, a mere stone’s throw away.
4. Kedai Makan Muhajirin
Location: 20 Toa Payoh Lorong 7, Singapore 310020
When was the last time you tried a decent plate of nasi lemak at S$1? For keeping prices consistently low, the owners of Kedai Makan Muhajirin deserve a medal. In order to cater to the long queues of loyal customers every morning, the matriarch wakes at 3am to prepare fresh plates of nasi lemak and other Malay cuisine favourites. The nasi lemak is simple and sincere - a bowl of fragrant coconut rice is paired with slices of pan-fried omelette, deep fried ikan bilis and peanuts, selar kuning (fish), a potato begedil, and savoured with sambal chilli.
Nasi Lemak by Kedai Makan Muhajirin : A one plate wonder. Photo Credits: Mothership.sg
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