Who can resist the charm of good nasi lemak and late-night prawning?
Who can resist the charm of good nasi lemak and late-night prawning?
- By Dechen Tan
- | Sep 10, 2019
There’s so much more to Yishun than the cat murders and drug busts—there’s also the food and sights to balance it out. While Yishun's reputation has become an easy joke to make over the years, let us take you on a journey beyond the alarming headlines to revisit some favourites and uncover the best kept secrets of the infamous northside precinct.
928 Yishun Laksa
Right around the bend from the now-defunct temporary bus interchange that has served commuters for over four years resides one of the collectively-agreed best laksa joints in the north. Behind this faded signboard plastered with numerous culinary awards is a family-run business that works efficiently to get through the lunchtime crowd, yet still dealing quality bowls of springy noodles doused in rich creamy broth with spices. A bowl sets you back by an average of $3, depending on your preferred toppings, which we think is a steal in any case. 928 Yishun Central 1.
Chong Pang Market
Chong Pang Market has stood as a food hub for over two decades and it seems that there has never been a pause in the bustle since its inauguration, apart from its maintenance days. The wet market has always been a reliable centre for all-things hawker food—they’ve got all the favourites, including great hokkien mee, crispy-skinned BBQ wings, fresh soya bean, and queue magnets like the Bedok Chwee Kueh stall. 105 Yishun Ring Rd.
Chong Pang Nasi Lemak
Photo credit: Project GE3238 on Flickr
This is the one place every cab driver knows. Mention “Chong Pang Nasi Lemak” and they will take you directly to this award-winning coconut rice seller, no questions asked. Expect signature crispy chicken wings, fluffy rice and an impressively addictive chilli, all for a couple of dollars and a queue. The eatery opens from 5pm-7am, which makes it the go-to haunt to cure your supper needs. 447 Sembawang Rd.
Shami Banana Leaf Delights
The snaking queues for this are unmissable at Kopitiam food courts, yet not many are aware of their standalone restaurant outlet along Jalan Mata Ayer. Directly adjacent to Khatib Camp, Shami Banana Leaf stands out from its neighbouring shophouses with its bright orange walls and massive yellow signage. Their signature dish: the Fish Head Curry. It's an absolute must-try that features the head of a red snapper fish in a full-bodied curry, but our personal favourite is the criminally underrated Chicken 65, a slightly-spicy deep fried entree coated in masala marinate. 349 Sembawang Rd.
Drinks and Dessert
Pin Cha (Yishun Mall)
Though the stretch has been officially named Yishun Mall, residents still affectionately refer to this open-aired marketplace as Broadway—after the name of the popular hawker chain that sits by the entrance. While the coffeehouse offers some interesting eats such as a cai png store that specialises in porridge and a pretty decent Char Grill Bar outlet, the star of the show has to be Pin Cha. The old-school milk tea vendor—the kind we used to visit after school for cheap snacks and drinks—still sells pretty darn good milk teas for just $1.
The strip also offer great deals when it comes to salons and beauty parlours, with hair cuts that start at $3.80 at Snip Avenue and $6 eyebrow threading sessions at Popular Beauty Salon. 414 Yishun Ring Rd.
Tiger Sugar (Northpoint City)
It has been a year since Northpoint went ahead and upgraded itself and yet, we’re still getting lost in the enormous maze that is Northpoint City. One of the newer units that has been taking the mall by storm is famed Taiwanese bubble tea brand Tiger Sugar, which has earned its stripes in the boba world. As with all things Singaporean, the proof is in the queue, so try to make it there before 6pm before the lethargic office workers stream in to get their after-work pick-me-ups. #01-153 Northpoint City South Wing, 1 Northpoint Dr.
Sweet Toof (Junction Nine)
Often overshadowed by the bigger, more attractive and popular Northpoint City, nearby Junction Nine have gems of its own too. Take for example Sweet Toof, a bingsoo-centric dessert cafe. Pick from a delightful array of flavours and grab a seat in the cosy cafe for the perfect catch up sesh with a friend. #02-27 Junction Nine, 18 Yishun Ave 9.
Things to do
Lower Seletar Reservoir
Once part of the Sungei Seletar reservoir, Lower Seletar Reservoir is now a serene park found by glistening turquoise waters. Come alone or with friends and enjoy a scenic workout route that wraps around the reservoir and eventually leads to a jetty that overlooks the horizon. Just beautiful.
After 10pm, there are few activities that don’t rely solely on the consumption of alcohol, and one of them is freshwater prawning at Khatib’s 24-hour leisure facility, Orto. For $20 an hour, catch as many prawns as you can for your very own seafood fiesta on the grills provided. For the same price, you may also opt to fish for crabs instead.
If you decide to have dinner or a couple of tipples after, there is always the various alfresco bars that line Orto, including a wide selection of beers from Quench! Bistro & Bar and BKK Bistro & Bar for delectable Thai-style vermicelli noodles that pair well with Chang beer. 81 Lor Chencharu.
Yishun Pond Park
A popular jogging spot right by Khoo Teck Puat hospital and Yishun Park. Follow the trail for exquisite views over the pond while clocking in some miles. The pond is also home to several wildlife creatures, so ready your cameras in case you spot a family of otters or tortoises. At night, the spiral tower lights up and and the atmosphere cools, painting it out to be the ideal hangout spot with a panoramic view. Yishun Central.
We asked the locals: "What do you like most about Yishun?"
Murali Krishna, founder of Shami Banana Leaf
“It isn’t overcrowded, as compared to other estates in Singapore. In my spare time, I enjoy visiting the national library in Northpoint City, especially since its revamp.”
Palden Tan, Yishun resident for over 45 years
“I’ve been here even before Lim Nee Soon—the founder of the Yishun precinct—was here. My family moved here in the early '60s when it was still known as Chye Kay Village to open Singapore’s second disco: Gowland Steakhouse/Discotheque. As a young boy I spent more time by the ponds fishing with friends than I did studying."
"Over the years, the area has evolved and it gets harder to remember what things were like before the HDB blocks. Lower Seletar Reservoir has remained as the only waterbody I can recall from my younger days of late-night fishing with great company. Sometimes I drop by and it brings back the memories—memories I’m sure that not many have in this day and age.”
H.Mohamed Iqbal, supervisor at A&A Eating house
“I like visiting Chong Pang Market the most. It’s where I shop very frequently as the stores are accessible and the goods are affordable.”