Simple and Good Middle Eastern Food

Note that much of this post was written after my first visit to the old Fill-a-Pita back in March 2015. I recently visited the slick new outlet in Nankin Row (address details below) and I’ve updated the post with pictures of Koshari Rice and new pricing. All new text is in italics. 

fillapita mealThere is one kind of food that Singapore can’t seem to get its head around. Middle Eastern food. Given that there’s a whole precinct dedicated to all things Arab and Middle Eastern you’d think that there’d be no end of good options to choose from. My personal experiences though have been decidedly disappointing. Aside from the fact that many Middle Eastern restaurants in the Arab Quarter do not serve alcohol (I may sound desperate but I really find it a bit annoying not being able to enjoy a glass of wine if I’m out with friends at a nice dinner) there also seem to be a number  that are either too lazy or just don’t care enough to bother offering good food and good service. I guess it’s because it’s a touristy area and there’s a view that there won’t be much repeat business.

What is most annoying is that the area is so vibrant, and has so many good bars and music venues, but you just can’t seem to get a good meal. Anyway, I’m working my way through a list of recommendations in the Arab Street area so hopefully I’ll be able to put together a decent Middle Eastern post some time soon.

In the meantime I bring you, drumroll please, Fill-a-Pita. I love Fill-a-Pita. I’ve written about Fill-a-Pita before as a healthy lunch time option in the CBD area but having recently revisited I was reminded just what a hearty and satisfying meal you can get here. And it’s all vegetarian. But don’t let that put you off if you’re a meat lover – the food is absolutely hearty and satisfying.

pitaMy favourite is the fava bean pita ($8), an awesome combo of cooked fava beans with crunchy red cabbage, tomato, tahina sauce and just the right amount of chilli sauce (I ask for medium).

pita1 Hassan who owns Fill-a-Pita is dedicated to ensuring that high quality ingredients are used in all his products. So the pita bread used now is just the right consistency to hold your meal together whilst you munch through the generously sized portion for lunch. You’ll also find that most options are suitable for vegans or can be made suitable and there are gluten free options as well.

fillapita koshari Recently I had a chance to try the Koshari Brown Rice. Every Thursday and Friday this Egyptian concoction of Thai organic red brown rice, lentils, macaroni and spicy red pepper sauce is served at Fill-a-Pita. The Koshari is often sold out by as early as 1pm so you need to get there early if you want guaranteed enjoyment. I couldn’t believe how hearty the rice was, it seriously tasted like a rich bolognaise sauce. You can opt for a half size serve ($5) or a full size ($8), I went for half and added olives to it with a side of coriander hummus and bread ($10 in total). Note that the sauce is pretty spicy, so the addition of hummus takes the edge off  nicely. Below you can read more about my previous visits to Fill-a-Pita.

The falafel pita ($9) is also good, falafels are a good size and if you really want to pig out you can order extra falafels. My one try of the falafel did result in a bit of a mess with the bread self destructing before I had a chance to finish but now that the bread has changed I think this will have improved.

whole pita

Fill-a-Pita also offer sides like hummus, coriander hummus, taboulleh salad and mixed salads with or without falafels. It’s a simple menu but it’s packed with flavoursome options to suit the hungriest of city workers and you can mix and match your options.

fillapitaThe space is a little tricky to find, it’s on Nankin Row, the foodie street that runs between China Street and South Bridge Road, wander along and you’ll find Fill-a-Pita slightly closer to the China Street end. You will have to wait a few minutes for your pita, everything is prepared as it’s ordered, there’s no case of food sitting around to get soggy or lacklustre, it’s all perky fresh and worth the wait every time. Also, the new space is air conditioned so it’s a much ‘cooler’ experience than the previous location.

Note that the prices I’ve listed here include gst (there is no service charge but you could leave a tip if you like 🙂 ).

Note that Fill-a-Pita is cash only.

Fill-a-Pita
3 Pickering Street, China Square Central
#01-29 Nankin Row, Singapore
phone +65 9835 1446

Open 11.30am to 3pm Monday to Friday and 12pm to 3pm Saturday

Comments

  1. Been there. Enjoyed it. Recommend it.

  2. I agree. The Arab quarter throws up some shocking food. Couple of years now, since I have tried the area: there was egyptian place where the ful Medames was tasteless; Turkish place where the mint tea was tea bag; Yemeni place where the coffee was dishwater.
    I am disappointed, that with some much improvement in food in Singapore, that the area has not improved for food.

    • I was rather hoping people would disagree with this post and tell me about some hidden food spots in the Arab Quarter that I was unaware of 🙁 It’s so true though Chris, with every other area showing such good improvement it’s really disappointing.
      Victoria recently posted…Simple and Good Middle Eastern FoodMy Profile

  3. Hey V,

    Have you tried Cafe le Caire in the Arab Quarter? I haven’t been there for a while now, but we visited a couple of times a few years ago and my memories of food, especially the pastries, are quite positive. Upstairs was where the hookah action was happening (I guess that’s not happening anymore!), but the crowd there seemed to be more locals and expats rather than tourists…

  4. An updated tip from my friend ‘SS’ – the falafels are now, “Baked not fried! 🙂 🙂 🙂 ”
    Victoria recently posted…Maggie Joan’sMy Profile

  5. Finally know where to get Koshari now! I just returned from Cairo, and missing it!

Trackbacks

  1. […] few weeks ago I wrote about the healthy lunches on Shenton Way at Fill-a-Pita. That’s my go to for a healthy lunch when I’m in the CBD. Today I’ve got two new healthy […]

  2. […] The owner is an Egyptian who had the high flying career and decided to open up this small shop to cater for quite the dearth in Middle Eastern food options in Singapore and particularly at the lower end of the market. The menu is simple, it’s vegetarian all the way, pitas with fava beans, falafels, haloumi, salads and of course hummus served separately with warm bread. I tried the fava bean pita ($8). The crunchy red cabbage added to the perfectly sauced fava beans that were just a little spicy (I didn’t take extra chilli but next time I would). You could even taste the tomatoes and the pita wasn’t greasy at all. The bread is fresh and being wholemeal has a much tastier texture than white pita. Definitely one for a quick bite to eat (although they do make everything fresh so you’ll need to wait a few minutes for your pita). Customer service was excellent and even when I took my tray back they remembered my name after I’d used it to order. Impressive. You can read more here. […]

  3. […] mixed salad. Everything I’ve tried at Fill-a-Pita has been fresh, hearty and flavourful. You can read more about Fill-a-Pita here. Fill-a-Pita 3 Pickering Street, China Square Central #01-29 Nankin Row, Singapore phone +65 9835 […]

  4. […] This simple cafe, now in Nankin Row off China Street, serves hearty lunch fare now in an air conditioned setting. Whilst falafel in various forms is probably my favourite, those pita breads make it very non gluten free friendly. Instead you can try the Koshari Brown Rice. This delicious Egyptian street food makes a hearty and healthy vegetarian lunch. For the gluten free version you need to ask for Koshari without the macaroni. There’s also a range of salads including one with lentils for the gluten free friendly version. You can read more here. […]

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