Gone are the days of Jurong East being regarded as a sorely underdeveloped district in a far-flung corner of Singapore. A buzzing heartland in its own right, Jurong East is the pride of west-siders, especially with three still-shiny malls – Westgate, JCube and JEM.
Ride the Korean Wave
It’s no secret that Korean dining have taken Singapore by storm. Folks who can’t get enough of their favourite Korean BBQ and finger lickin’ good chicken, can get their fix at casual fast-food style 4 Fingers Crispy Chicken (Westgate) and Oppa Korean Grill BBQ (Jcube).
Newer players include Yoogane (Westgate), which saw long snaking queues for its specialty Chicken Galbi when they first opened. Our favourite is the Cheese Chicken Galbi, which offers a generous serving of warm melted cheese, perfectly complementing the spicy chicken tenders, rice cakes, and assorted greens. Word of caution: take their spice ratings seriously!
For a twist on the usual Korean suspects, Sync Korean Fusion Bistro has starters like Kimchi Cheese Fries alongside mains such as Ja Jang Myeon (prepared with al-dente spaghetti) cooked and Topokki garnished with bacon bits and topped off with a half boiled egg. On top of soju and makgeolli, East meets West cocktails – think Soju Mojito – are also available.
Perennial Japanese Favourites
We all love affordable conveyor-belt sushi joints, and the malls of Jurong East has some decent options. Offering a larger variety of premium cuts, Ryoshi Sushi Ikeikemaru (Westgate) would be the priciest of the bunch, followed by Itacho Sushi (JCube), while Sushi Express (Westgate) has all items going at a flat rate of $1.50 per plate.
Expanding beyond its flagship outlet in Mandarin Gallery, Tonkatsu by Ma Maison (Westgate) continues to dish out quality tonkatsu on this end of the island. Take your pick from the fatty Rosu or leaner Hire, and savour these crisp, chunky cuts of meat with condiments such as tonkatsu sauce, spice oil, and rock salt. Non-pork options such as chicken and prawn are available too. Sets are served with rice (includes complimentary top-ups), miso soup, and pickles.
Ramen lovers will be familiar with Ippudo (Westgate) and their signature Hakata style ramen of thin, firm noodles with tonkotsu broth. Besides their original signature, other creations such as Akamaru Shinaji (enhanced with miso paste and garlic oil) and Hakata Mentai Tonkotsu (includes a dollop of mentaiko sauce) are worth trying.
Menya Musashi (Westgate) is certainly trying to give Ippudo a run for their money by opening an outlet in the same mall. Though falling slightly short in terms of flavour and technique, they’ve managed to stay competitive with sheer volume and diversity in offering. Besides ramen – which can be differentiated into black (garlic oil), red (spicy), and white (tonkotsu) – they have expanded the menu to include Tsukemen (ramen noodles served with a separate dipping broth), rice sets, and set meals.
For more delicious soup goodness, head to Tsukada Nojo ’s (Westgate) Bijin Nabe – Beauty Collagen Hot Pot (minimum 2 pax to order). We were puzzled when our platter of seafood, chicken meatball, and mixed vegetables arrived with a pot of pudding-esque substance. The latter will melt, turning into a rich, creamy broth brimming with collagen your skin will thank you for. FYI: the pudding is prepared by stewing free range Jidori chicken for 8 hours to ensure full extraction of nutrients before being cooled into pudding for storage.
Ever-Present Family-Friendly Chinese Fare
From traditional Cantonese roasts, delectable dumplings, to fresh catch of the day, you can count on the stalwarts of Chinese cuisine in Singapore – Paradise Dynasty (Westgate), Crystal Jade Kitchen (Westgate), Imperial Treasure Seafood Restaurant (JEM), and Ding Tai Fung (JEM) – when you’re planning the next big gathering.
For a more casual meal, order up a bowl of wanton noodles at Mak’s Noodle (Westgate). Mak’s join the likes of immensely popular dim sum eatery Tim Ho Wan (Westgate) and a new wave of beloved Hong Kong institutions that have opened outposts on our shores.
Other Eclectic Flavours of Asia
Quality pho is hard to come by in Singapore (check out Mrs Pho!) and So Pho (JEM) does a truly decent job of this Vietnamese comfort food. They also offer a selction of hot pots for sharing, traditional rice sets, baguette sandwiches, and appetisers including self-wrap Vietnamese spring rolls.
Can’t get enough of tantalising, full-flavoured Thai grub? Nara Thai (Westgate) is great for authentic Thai street food. You can’t go wrong with popular Thai-style steamboat chain MK Restaurant (Westgate) either. You’re likely to chalk up a heftier bill at these establishments, compared to other casual eateries, but the standards of comfort and service are definitely higher.
Bagging the prize of ‘Best Indian Restaurant 2013’ from the Restaurant Association of Singapore, Zaffron Kitchen (Westgate) is, in our opinion, one of the best places for Indian food in Singapore. On top of fan-favourite curries, biryani, and freshly baked naans, there’re also innovative creations such as Western inspired burgers and wraps served with masala fries and mango mint chutney.
The Western Classics
Introducing French classics at wallet friendly prices, it’s no wonder that French-themed bistro Poulet (Westgate) has expanded so rapidly since its inception. The go-to is definitely the roast chicken. Available in half or whole chicken, it arrives with either cream mushroom sauce or homemade cranberry and mustard dressing.
Conceptualised by the Marché group, Marché Mövenpick (JEM) is a versatile Western restaurant, with design-your-own salads and pastas being the key offering. It’s a great place to gather with friends for casual food and drinks as they have a decent list of champagne, prosecco, wines, draft beers, and classic cocktails. Do look out for the occasional 1-for-1 drinks promotion!
We probably don’t need to introduce Brotzeit (Westgate). An extensive, carnivorous menu featuring cold cuts, bratwurst platters, and signature main courses – oven roasted grain-fed pork knuckle, honey ribs, and veal goulash – is the best thing about this place. Don’t miss out on the desserts, such as Kaiserschmarren, a Christmas favourite of mini pancakes with rum and raisins, apple strudel, and Bavarian cream with fresh strawberries.
Another restaurant hopping on the fusion bandwagon is Miam Miam (Westgate). A French cafe with a Japanese twist, savoury dishes include bisques, sandwiches, and baked soufflé rice. However, desserts are the real winner here. Go for the sinfully rich Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé, Houjicha Pancakes topped with dango and Azuki red bean, or baked French Toast complemented with maple syrup and fresh whipped cream.
There’s always room for dessert, we know. The yogurt lovers will be spoilt for choice with self-service yogurt concept Sogurt (JEM), Spanish import LLao Llao (Westgate), and good ol’ Yami Yogurt (Westgate).
Trending dessert joints Honeycreme (JEM), Nunsaram Patbigsu (Westgate), and Lady M (Westgate) have cropped up in the west too, so you’ll get to satisfy your cravings for soft serve ice cream topped with organic honeycomb, mille crepe cakes, and refreshing Korean shaved ice.
Besides classic plain waffles with gelato and/or maple syrup, Griddy Gourmet Waffles (Westgate) offers flavours like Strawberry Chesecake, Durian Royale, and Rocher Bananas. Think crisp waffle topped with sliced bananas, a scoop of richer gelato, graham crackers and drizzled with melted hazelnut chocolate. Prices are reasonable – under $10 – for a generous portion.