Poor Yishun. The misunderstood region in the North of Singapore has been perceived as a hotbed of crime and weird happenings after several high profile cases (from brothel raids to cat deaths to murders) were reported originating from there.
So much so that the previously sleepy town became a meme, with YouTube spoof videos, a campaign to “Build a wall around Yishun”, and even a dedicated site on the unusual happenings of the estate.
Even Netflix jumped in on the action, poking fun of the town in its Stranger Things promo.
Seedy reputation aside, Yishun is also fast becoming a food haven. From old school hawker food to hipster fare, trust us, there are plenty of food places here that are worth braving the North for.
A stone’s throw away from Northpoint City, this chicken rice stall has been serving Yishun residents for more than two decades and is always seen with a queue. It has since opened several other branches islandwide, but we think the original is still the best.
Don’t expect anything pretty or Instagram-worthy, but you can be sure of smooth, tender and moist flesh (even for the tricky breast portions) doused with flavourful sauce and accompanied by aromatic rice and a thick, punchy chilli sauce.
Best of all, the chicken served is boneless, so you can avoid the pesky task of struggling with your meal.
Yishun 925 Hainanese Chicken Rice is at #01-249, Yong Yun 81 Yishun Foodcourt, Blk 925 Yishun Central 1, Singapore 760925.
Another great find at Wisteria Mall is Ramen Eki. The menu is lean — they offer a small variety of ramen bowls of different soup broths, such as shoyu, miso and tonkotsu, with a choice of pork and chicken char siew, and just one Oyako Don. There are no sides or desserts, although you can add on more ingredients. But this is a great example of keeping things pared down so one can focus on doing justice to its specialty.
The Tonkotsu Ramen ($12.90) we tried had a surprisingly rich and flavourful broth, springy thin noodles and soft, thin slices of meat. Every ingredient was cooked to perfection, down to its runny tamago egg. At such an affordable price, a meal here is quite a steal.
Ramen Eki #B1-06, 598 Yishun Ring Road, Singapore 768698, tel: 6339 1069.
Spicy lovers will adore this Indonesian dish. The stall is helmed by a friendly couple, who created their signature Ayam Taliwang marinade after several test runs. Comprising fresh chilli, shallots, tamarind juice and belachan, their chicken thighs are covered with the paste and grilled.
The result is juicy, slightly smoky flesh that is sweet and tangy, made better by the generous dose of sauce and served with fragrant coconut rice. Humble but satisfying dish.
Nasi Lemak Ayam Taliwang is at #01-33 Yishun Park Hawker Centre, 51 Yishun Ave 11, Singapore 768867, tel: 8750 5240.
Although the name suggests porridge is its speciality, the star of this stall is actually its ke kou mian, or Koka instant noodles. Try the Pork Koka Noodle ($3.50), which comes in a clear but flavoursome soup and heaped with a lavish serving of lean pork, minced meat, pig’s liver and vegetables. Spicy lovers should go for the Tom Yum Koka Noodle ($3.70), which serves the same pork ingredients but in a glistening red broth. While it packs a bit of heat, it’s rich, intense and satisfying.
The noodles served are just the right texture of firm bounciness (none of that soggy overcooked stuff please!) and you can opt for seafood instead of pork. This outlet is as popular as its Bukit Panjang outlet, so expect a bit of a wait during lunch time. Remember to add a poached egg to intensify the creaminess of the broth. Pure comfort in a bowl.
Hai Xian Zhu Zhou is at #01-472 Choh Dee Place, Blk 233 Yishun Street 21, Singapore 760233.
Typically found in town, this casual Mexican eatery’s Yishun outlet is the only one nestled in the heartlands. You can’t go wrong with their burrito bowls, which are a colourful visual treat filled with your choice of white or brown rice and meat (grilled chicken, pulled pork, grilled steak, slow-cooked beef or pan-seared barramundi) and topped with a generous dose of black beans, corn chips, Pico de Gallo (freshly-chopped salsa) and Australian Jack cheese.
They have quesadillas, tacos, fajitas and burritos as well, so you’re spoilt for choice. Get their Churros with dulce de Leche dip to end your meal on a sweet note.
Guzman y Gomez is at #01-176/177/178, Northpoint City (South Wing), 1 Northpoint Drive, Singapore 769019, tel: 6254 4979.
This casual eatery that started off in Punggol East Container Park is known for its affordable fresh fish fillets and overflowing yellow cones of freshly-sliced potato crisps. Expect the same delicious and hearty fare in its Northpoint outlet, such as Fish and Crisps, with your choice of fish such as dory, tilapia, salmon or cod, fish and pilaf rice or sandwich and crisps.
Prices start from $7.80. There are also set lunches from $8.90 that come with a soft drink and soup. We love that you get unlimited sauces and dips to go with your meal — go with the salted egg sauce or curry mayo sauce, both of which are creamy and pack a punch, serving as the perfect accompaniment to your fish.
Big Fish Small Fish is at #02-132/133 Northpoint City (South Wing), 930 Yishun Avenue 2, Singapore 769098, tel: 6513 9533.
Crispy, eggy and flavourful with soft cubes of rice flour that melt in your mouth — this stall’s carrot cake ($3) is to die for. What’s interesting is they serve their dish with a liberal heap of preserved radish aka ‘chye poh’ on the side, which give each mouthful a satisfying savoury crunch.
They only serve the white version and a long, long queue awaits those who venture here, but this gem will silence all cravings and make you want to come back for more.
618 Sim Carrot Cake is at 618 Yishun Ring Rd, Singapore 760618.
Kanshoku’s Yishun outlet is an adorable food truck, complete with pretty fairy lights and minimalist seating. Their offerings are the same as other outlets — apart from the usual Tonkotsu Ramen and Shoyu Ramen, expect their signature Truffle Ramen in both dry and broth versions, both of which have their merits.
The broth is cooked for eight hours using filtered water, which gives off a savoury umami flavour that packs a punch. But we personally like the dry version. Fresh and springy Hakata style ramen noodles; strong, aromatic truffle flavours; tenderly marinated chashu slices and an oozing runny yolk coating your noodles with a creamy texture — what’s there not to like? As its name suggests, you’ll polish off every last bit of your food. It’s that good. Ramen bowls are from $13.90.
Kanshoku Ramen Bar is at #B1-151, Northpoint City, 1 Northpoint Drive, Singapore 768019, tel: 6251 1278.
Fans of comforting and authentic Italian fare will be pleased with what PocoLoco has to offer, especially given its wallet-friendly prices. The Italian restaurant (which only just opened its Yishun outlet) serves up a mean pasta dish, not to mention lip-smacking risottos. Not your usual budget-friendly (and yawn, boring) offerings, chefs there use premium ingredients like truffle and foie gras — not what you would expect in a humble residential eatery.
Try the Manzo ($13.50), a pasta with beef in truffle cream sauce that is surprisingly light yet full of flavour, the Mentaiko Pasta ($13.50), a intensely creamy tagliolini with mentaiko chubu, or the Tagliolini ($20) which is cooked in pepperenchino style and paired with fresh hokkiado sea urchin which is blow-torched just before serving. Yum. The outlet is not easy to find — it’s facing the road and is accessible only when you walk from the outside. But trust us, the search will be worth it.
PocoLoco has several outlets. Its Wisteria Mall outlet is at #01-37/38, 598 Yishun Ring Road, Singapore 768698, tel: 8826 1919.
This stall is so old-school and unassuming that you might not even notice it if you were walking past — if not for the long and winding queue constantly extending from its stall front. Each bowl comes with a rich and creamy broth that you simply can’t get enough off, topped with a generous serving of taupok(beancurd puff), fish cake, beansprouts, cockles and egg.
Choose from a regular ($2.80) or large ($3.30) bowl and let the stall owners know your choice of noodles and whether you want cockles or not. They are friendly but brusque, so state your orders clearly and quickly. Add a dollop of their homemade chili if you dare — it’ll give an extra fiery kick.
928 Yishun Laksa is at #01-155, 928 Yishun Central 1, Singapore 760928, tel: 9731 9586.