MacPherson: The unexpected foodie paradise [4 Must Try Food Spots]

MacPherson is one of Geylang’s five subzones and home to a huge assortment of businesses, many of them industrial. The neighbourhood is one of Singapore’s oldest housing estates; three of its HDB blocks were identified for the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme last year when they turned 50.

If you’re a foodie, here are four reasons you need to visit the neighbourhood, and pronto.

Reason 1: Quan Lai Kway Chap at MacPherson Road

Address: 560 Macpherson Road, Singapore 368233

Start eating: At 9am (till 3am)

Take note: Google says the stall is open every day

Quan Lai Kway Chap has a smorgasbord of braised meat and innards to feed all who come. Photo credit: Loh Xiu Ruth,

This duck rice and kway chap stall is found in an eating house on a corner along Macpherson Road. It has won multiple food awards, most of them curiously made out to “Duck Rice Kway Chap (Macpherson Road)”, instead of the stall’s actual name. If you read Chinese though, you’ll see “Quan Lai” in golden characters on the stall’s auspiciously red signboard. Below the signboard, a lot of pig is on show, from meat to skin to offal. The portions here are truly substantial and work out to $9 per person for a serving of kway chap and duck meat worthy of a starving army boy fresh off the tekong boat. You can choose from yam rice, traditional kway (noodles in silken squares served in steaming soup), and white rice.

 If you enjoy starchy braised duck sauce and chewy pig’s large intestines, you’re in for a real treat. Photo credit: Loh Xiu Ruth

Reason 2: Ghim Guan Fried Oyster at Circuit Road Food Centre

Address: 79 Circuit Road, Singapore 370079

Start eating: At 5:30pm (till 10:30pm)

Take note: Google says Ghim Guan is closed on Wednesdays

Different stalls man the fort from breakfast till supper at this foodie haven. Photo credit: Loh Xiu Ruth,

Google says Circuit Road Food Centre is open 24/7, but as this hasn’t been personally verified, we’ll go as far as to say you can pop by for breakfast, lunch, dinner, teatime, and supper. It’s a very culturally inclusive centre, with at least 10 vegetarian stalls and a wide variety of halal food stalls. Food stalls fill two single-storey blocks that look fresh and refurbished. Old-school hawker stalls hold court here, and there’s at least one mama shop selling a sweet variety of classic old-fashioned snacks.

Sounds good, you say. But when are you going to tell me about Ghim Guan, sister?

Ghim Guan Fried Oyster: Serving up plates that will make you go oh mai tian (translation: oh my heavens) ! Photo credit: Loh Xiu Ruth

Let’s get into the good stuff. A deceptively simple plate of fried oyster at Ghim Guan costing $4 is…pretty stupendous. Don’t believe us? Trust Google. Some fried oyster hawkers are too heavy-handed with the batter or skimp on the oysters, but the gentleman who fries these blessed oysters is an artisan. There’s a good balance of egg and batter, the egg is crisp and so savoury with the right amount of salty seasoning, and the oysters are fresh and plump, without reeking of mildew or rotten fish, and they sing “hallelujah” as they burst in your deserving mouth (all right, all right, taking a pinch of artistic licence here). Hopefully this wasn’t just a night the cook was on demigod form or we were just horrendously hungry. It could also have been that we ordered the fried oyster at 9pm and the wok had already been sufficiently fired up (there are those among us who claim a hot wok is the secret sauce for making fantastic food). In any case, it’s worth a try if you’re in MacPherson. There’s a fresh breeze whirling in from the canal next door, and don’t worry – its bau smells nothing like an old longkang’s. You’ll have an odorously peaceful walk; just look out for the night joggers.

This cute fruit juice stall looks clean and green and appealing. Drink ba! Photo credit: Loh Xiu Ruth

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Reason 3: NOM Bistro & Bakery at MacPherson Community Club

Address: 400 Kallang, Paya Lebar Way, Level 1 MacPherson Community Club, Singapore 379131

Start eating: At 12pm (till 10pm)

Take note: Google says the stall is closed on Tuesdays and open at 11am on weekends

It’s less than 100 metres down the road from the food centre, and it has air-conditioning! Photo credit: Loh Xiu Ruth,

Before there was NOM, there was Yesterdae, NOM’s predecessor. Yesterdae was a dessert specialist that grew so popular, its owners decided to expand into a full-fledged café. NOM is an acronym for No Other Meaning, which presumably makes reference to how the popular quasi-word NOM is often used to describe eating. But we digress. The important stuff is the reason you should come here, which is that between 12pm and 3pm on weekdays, you and one friend can get lunch at half price. Choose from burgers, pastas, pizzas, rice bowls, and guzzle your way through. Prices for mains are mostly between $10 and $20 and the sharing plates are mostly below $10. While the food is mostly western, it has glimmers of Asian heritage, with tahu goreng, salted egg yolk fries, and chicken yakitori on the menu.

Also, there is no service charge. NOM encourages tipping though, and 100% of tips go to all staff members. The management reserves the right to withdraw this 1-for-1 deal at any time.

Reason 4: Wishes Café at Circuit Road

Address: 36 Circuit Road #01-414, Singapore 370036

Start eating: At 11am (till 10pm)

Take note: Google says the stall is closed on Mondays

Wishes come in handheld cones at this café. Photo credit: Loh Xiu Ruth,

This charming, glass-fronted café serves ice-cream and waffles, tea in pots, freshly brewed ice lemon tea, drinking chocolate, and what they call gourmet kopi (including affogato). You can have this for brunch, lunch, tea, dinner, or supper, if that’s your jam. The ice-cream is homemade with less sugar, but if anything the compromise on less sugar has amplified the taste. The rum-and-raisin and – if you like durian – mao shan wang is so creamy, smooth, and richly flavoured that you’ll yearn for a few more scoops. The café atmosphere is pretty run-of-the-mill for an ice-cream café, with cosy tables where diners can commune intimately with their individual ice-creams.

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