Not so an awful lot for stated food lover’s wallet, though. Dining out can be expensive, but earlier than you resign to filling your tummy at the cost of emptying your wallet, steal these suggestions to consume your way through Singapore on a budget.
Offer to Make the Reservation
If you’re dining with a group, offer to make the reservation. Use a service like Chope which awards you with points every time you make and full a reservation at their partner restaurants. You can trade these points for vouchers, which saves you at least $10 off your next meal.
Use Food Discount Apps
The easiest way to score a deal is by downloading dining discount apps like Sugar The Entertainer, and Eatigo. When you dine at their partner restaurants, you score discounts or one-for-one deals. It’s also a great way to discover restaurants and cafes you wouldn’t otherwise have went to!
Here’s a common situation you may have faced. You are at a restaurant, where all you had was a drink or two with your meal and then your bill arrives. And it’s astronomical.
This is because the margin on alcohol at restaurants is quite high. So even a drink or two could lead to you having to cough up a huge amount. A way to get out of this quandary is to find out when the restaurant has happy hours. This way you will be able to take advantage of discounts on beverages.
If you are dining with a group of people, then come to a consensus on the type of wine all of you would like to drink and order a bottle and not individual glasses. This is because a complete bottle tends to be cheaper than individual glasses of wine.
Alternatively, you could also skip drinks entirely or drink at home, or at a less expensive outlet before or after your meal.
Order Appetisers (and No Main Course/Split the Main Course)
It’s quite common to load up on the appetisers and then struggle to finish the main course because you are just so full. In some cases, you may not even be able to finish the main course. So, when you go out to eat, order a few appetisers first. If that fills you, then skip the main course altogether!
If you find that you are still hungry post the appetisers, then order for the main course. Consider splitting the main course with another diner in your group. This way, you aren’t forcing yourself to eat, you aren’t wasting food, and you and your fellow diner end up splitting the cost of the main course. This is a win-win situation in every single way!
Make the Reservation
If you are dining with a group or with just one person, offer to make the reservation. You can use reservation services such as Quandoo or Chope which reward you with points every time you reserve a table with them.
Now, this is only valid for restaurants that are partnered with them, but it’s a great way to save if you are planning to dine at a partner hotel. The points you earn can be traded for discount vouchers on your next meal!
Use a Credit Card
This, of course, is the most common way to save money while dining in Singapore. Dining credit cards are a dime a dozen in Singapore. In fact, even if your credit card isn’t meant exclusively for dining purposes, your card issuer will at all times have dining deals with some restaurant or the other.
Dining credit cards like the Citi Cash Back Card, UOB YOLO Card, and other dining cards all offer great discounts on dining, in addition to offering cash back/rebate on your dining expenses. If you have an American Express credit card that is part of the American Express Selects programme, then that is another way to save while dining at some of your favourite restaurants. If you are a food connoisseur and love dining only at the best restaurants, then a credit card is the best way you can save on money and enjoy some fine dining! Credit cards are another way of saving big on your dining experiences. Many banks in Singapore offer specific cards that offer great discounts, dining rewards, and cashback every time you dine out. Some banks make these features available on all their cards.
Credit card companies often offer special schemes in partnership with certain hotels and restaurants, giving you higher discounts and rewards. Apart from discounts on dining many cards also offer discounts on fuel and cab rides, making your trip to the restaurant cost effective as well.
Don’t Take “Special Menu” Promos
Sometimes, a credit card will offer “special menus” rather than a discount or bonus points. Try to avoid promotions like these – there’s a high chance that leftovers or unpopular items are being pushed to you this way.
Stick to cashback and discounts to optimise your credit card.
Split a Main
If you’re eating with a good friend, splitting a main can help you save money. Simply ask what the biggest main on the menu is, and split that.
These days some restaurants even have platters that are meant to be shared. These two, four, or sometimes even six-person platters tend to cost much less than having everyone order individually.
Buy Wine By the Bottle or Not At All
Buying a bottle can shave almost 10 to 15% off the price. Decide if you’re going to sit there and drink, or not. If your intent is to just have one or two glasses of wine, skip it and order another beverage.
The markup on a per-glass basis is huge, and some restaurants cheat. If you don’t see the bottle, they may be pouring you another, cheaper wine.
Skip Drinks Altogether
If you’re not much of a wine drinker, consider skipping drinks altogether and having water with your meal. Drinks are a huge source of profit, with tea, soda, and juice often marked up by 70% or 80%.
So say no to the drinks menu and ask for water instead. Remember to ask for ice water or tap water specifically, as some restaurants charge as much as S$4 for a plastic bottle of mineral water.
And if the server asks if you prefer sparkling or still water, never say “still”. You’ll end up ordering some fancy bottled water that costs S$7 but tastes just like tap.
Singapore Street Food
Singapore is known for its amazing street food. Spread over a number of cuisines, street food is a must-have even if you are visiting the city only for a short while. There are hundreds of hawkers who sell extremely affordable and high-quality food.
Apart from your run of the mill street food, Singapore also boasts two Michelin-starred hawker stalls. They are extremely clean and offer deliciously satisfying meals at jaw-dropping prices of less than S$5! The only drawback is that you will most often have to wait in long lines for hours to enjoy this world-class food experience.
Follow Food Bloggers
Experienced food bloggers are a wealth of information and often post updates on which restaurants are currently offering the best discounts. Following their updates can help you find great food at highly affordable prices.
They also pen down their experiences which makes for very good reading, giving you a first-hand account of what you can expect.
Other Points That Can Help
- If possible, avoid alcohol altogether since it’s the predominant culprit in most sky-rocketing restaurant bills.
- If you do pick out to drink, order throughout the blissful hours to get exceptional offers on your drinks.
- If you’re buying wine, buy it through the bottle than by the glass. It helps you retailer about 15% if you’re going to eat shut to a bottle anyway.
- Skip “special promotions” on pricey restaurants/hotels. The expenses there are plenty greater and you probably wouldn’t have eaten there in the first region anyway.
- Many dishes have multiple size options. When eating as a group, get the higher component and split it among the group.
- Stick to your budget. Don’t get swayed with the aid of the sights, smells, and sounds.
Singapore has thousands of dining options to choose from but not all of them may give you the experience you are looking for. Do your research in advance, find out the best deals, and read reviews. This will help you have the most satisfying and rewarding “dining out” experiences.