This hidden vegetarian food court in Chinatown has S$1 drinks, desserts, and three-course meals for S$5 or less

by Kaye Yeo

As a vegetarian food lover, I advocate for sharing the good things with everyone instead of gatekeeping them, and that includes this hidden food court in Chinatown with affordable meals below S$5.

Previously known as the Five Insights Hall (五观食堂), this vegetarian food court beneath the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple underwent renovations to become Lian Xin (莲芯膳坊) in 2022.

Photo: Sammi Ng/google images

This food court, which is air-conditioned (thankfully!) has an unnoticeable entrance located at the left of the temple, with only a tiny sign at the top pointing to some nondescript stairs leading down to it. Upon entering, you’ll be greeted with four stalls selling mixed rice, western food, noodles, drinks and desserts

Lian Xin
Photo: Juwin Ho ERA/google images

Before you start queueing, grab some free fruits at the condiments station. The type of fruits changes daily and there are limited quantities available. The early bird gets the worm, so chances are that you’ll find the baskets empty by the afternoon. 

One of the must-try crowd favourites is the Laksa from the noodle stall, priced at only S$4, but it is only available on Wednesdays and Sundays. Do note that most of the stalls operate with weekly menus featuring items that change daily. 

Lian Xin
Photo: Andrew Lee/google images

A plate of rice or bee hoon with two vegetables at the mixed rice stall only costs S$3, and you can add more vegetables to your liking with a dollar. Just imagine getting a plate of bee hoon with four ingredients at just S$5 — where else in Singapore can you get such great food at this price?

Photo: A M/google images

It’s also a steal at S$5 for the Western food stall’s set meal, which includes an appetiser (usually salad), a soup and a main. The stall has two weekly menus, A and B, which alternate each week. You’ll have to plan carefully if you want to get to try their tomato truffle pasta on Week B’s Thursday, gratin rice on Week A’s Wednesday, or mushroom penne on Saturday!

You can add as much parmesan cheese or chilli flakes as you like to your dish at the condiments station.

Photo: Andrew Lee/google images

Drinks and desserts are only a dollar, and you’re definitely spoilt for choice. Think oreo cake, pistachio cheesecake, green tea choco bun, bubur cha cha, mushroom pie, and so much more!

You won’t be finding any Pumpkin Spice Lattes here, but you can get the classics like kopi, teh, and even soft drinks like Sparkling Apple, Coca Cola and Jasmine Green Tea. Top up another dollar for the premium teas of High Fragrance Tie Guanyin and Citrus Bliss if you’re feeling fancier.

Lian Xin
Photo: @kakoveryvernis/instagram

Of course, you can skip all that and go for the free water that is also available at the condiments station. 

It is amazing that this small food court with only four stalls can achieve so much variety with the daily rotating menus. Lian Xin is able to keep prices low as it is supported by the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, so if you happen to have some pocket change, drop it into the donation box to continue enjoying good food (and good karma).

Photo: Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

The food court closes in the early afternoon, but at least the next time you’re in Chinatown, you know where to go for a budget-friendly yet satisfying lunch!

Lian Xin (莲芯膳坊)
???? 288 South Bridge Rd, B1 Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, Singapore 058840
???? 9am–2.30pm (Daily)

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