Homegrown eatery Li Jie De Dian serves affordable local fare from S$1.20, free hot drinks for dine-in customers

By Phyllis Leong March 23, 2024
Homegrown eatery Li Jie De Dian serves affordable local fare from S$1.20, free hot drinks for dine-in customers
Li Jie De Dian serves local delicacies at budget-friendly prices. Photos: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere
  • Li Jie De Dian is helmed by husband-and-wife duo Li Xuee and John Ong, who also founded F&B franchise JJ Food Express.
  • The Ang Mo Kio eatery serves wallet-friendly dishes from S$1.20, such as economic bee hoon and chee cheong fun.
  • Seniors also enjoy free chwee kueh every Wednesday morning. Only 200 pieces are available, while stocks last.

The past two years have been arduous for many F&B businesses, with challenges such as rising ingredient costs and recent GST increases.

Many eateries have had to either raise their prices, or were forced to hang their aprons for good. The closure of beloved hawker stalls Teck Hin Fishball Noodles and Tian Tian Lai Nasi Lemak, among many others, come to mind.

It’s a challenging time for business owners and tough for diners to find places that still whip up budget-friendly fare

But for homegrown eatery Li Jie De Dian —which directly translates to Sister Li’s coffeeshop — it has steadfastly kept its menu affordable and below market rate, too. 

Dishes are priced from S$1.20 — a rare sight in today’s economic climate. 

You’ll find the 50-seater joint nestled in the quaint neighbourhood of Ang Mo Kio, where it sits underneath a shophouse.

It’s easy to spot from afar — just look out for its vibrant Tiffany blue sign and decor. The swarm of customers (specifically, the elderly) milling around the eatery is also a dead giveaway.

Li Jie De Dian
You can find Xuee behind the counter, busy ringing up orders. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

Li Jie De Dian is run by a husband-and-wife duo: 52-year-old Fujian-born Li Xuee (customers affectionately refer to her as Sister Li) and her husband John Ong, 63. 

As the lady boss, Xuee is the face of the eatery, where she oversees front-of-house operations such as cashiering and waitressing. John, on the other hand, works behind the scenes to churn out new recipes for the menu. 

Both have been in the F&B industry for over fifteen years. 

Li Jie De Dian isn’t their first rodeo, though. The couple founded F&B franchise JJ Food Express in 2008, which currently manages over 30 food court stalls of different cuisines and brands in Singapore. 

One notable brand under its wing is Wu Ming Hainanese Chicken Rice, which is well-loved for its tender steamed chicken. Aside from chicken rice, JJ Food Express specialises in Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisine.

Li Jie De Dian
Both Xuee and her husband John have been in the F&B industry for over fifteen years. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

Xuee’s decision to venture into the culinary sector didn’t happen overnight, though. When she first arrived in Singapore in 1996, she worked at a local factory that specialised in electronic goods. 

Five years later, she switched to a full-time job at an F&B joint. It was during her stint there that she discovered a keen interest in food and cooking. 

Meanwhile, John cut his teeth at a Japanese restaurant in Orchard, where he picked up different culinary techniques.

After a few years in the industry, the pair left their jobs to start their first F&B venture together: A food court stall called JJ Japanese Cuisine (not to be confused with JJ Food Express, which was only established later). 

While most would be apprehensive about taking a leap of faith and shelling out their savings, the couple was optimistic from the get-go. 

Speaking in Mandarin, Xuee says, “It was because we were already equipped with the necessary culinary skills and had a strong passion for the trade.” 

JJ Japanese Cuisine quickly became a hit with the masses, thanks to its affordable everyday fare. The couple then decided to start the JJ Food Express franchise, where they could introduce new cuisines, such as Korean and Chinese. 

Over the years, JJ Food Express has grown to encompass 32 stalls islandwide. Today, it’s a ubiquitous name found at most food courts and kopitiams in Singapore.  

Xuee says that working together with her husband has been smooth sailing and they rarely disagree — both function like a well-oiled machine. “We also have similar beliefs and values,” she adds. “That’s why we work so well together.” 

They make decisions as a team, which Xuee says is a fundamental aspect of running a business with a partner. “Practising open communication and sharing mutual understanding is crucial for the business to flourish,” she says.

Inspiration behind Li Jie De Dian

Li Jie De Dian
The interior is decked in gorgeous Tiffany blue hues. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

After the success of the JJ Food Express franchise, the pair thought it was high time to try something new. They wanted to start an independent eatery of their own, sans the restrictions and rental issues of working with a landlord. 

“We wanted a shop that we could call ours,” Xuee says. Armed with a desire to serve delicious, home-cooked local food, they decided to open Li Jie De Dian

It opened its doors in April 2023. 

Coincidentally enough, the joint is situated in the neighbourhood that Xuee used to reside in — in fact, she used to live just a block away. The moment she heard there was a vacant shop in the area for rent, she took it up immediately. 

“This is a place that holds many nostalgic memories for me,” she says, reminiscing. “It brings back the good times of heading to the wet market nearby for groceries.”

Despite working 16-hour shifts every day, Xuee finds her job meaningful. “When customers tell me that they enjoy my food, I feel a sense of accomplishment,” she says, laughing. “My hard work has come to fruition.” 

Local delicacies priced from S$1.20

Li Jie De Dian
Dishes are priced from S$1.20 onwards. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

Ang Mo Kio may be a hotspot for many cafes and restaurants, but Li Jie De Dian holds its own just fine. If you aren’t familiar with the area, it’s a popular eatery among residents, which Xuee attributes to its budget-friendly fare.

Not only that, there’s a diverse range of local delicacies on the menu, too. Think laksa, bee hoon soup, bento sets, and even Sichuan grilled fish — a delicacy in China.

Says Xuee: “I wanted to bring in local delights that people know and love.” 

The dishes cater to the budget-conscious, too. You’ll find that a hearty plate of economic bee hoon goes for only S$1.20, while chee cheong fun costs S$2.50. 

On why the couple decided to price their menu so cheap, Xuee points out: “Most of the residents here are the elderly, so our food has to be affordable and accessible for the majority.” 

With every main course ordered, Li Jie De Dian also offers dine-in customers a complimentary hot beverage, on the house. Feel free to take your pick of drinks, such as kopi, teh, Milo and more.

And that isn’t all — the eatery also gives out free chwee kueh to seniors every Wednesday morning. Only 200 pieces are available, while stocks last. 

This initiative has the older folks flocking to the shop as early as 7.30am every Wednesday morning, eager to get their hands on a plate. 

For Xuee and John, this is their way of giving back to the community. “The residents are like our family,” Xuee says, smiling. “If they’re happy, so are we.”

To them, making profits is last on their list of priorities. The duo is content to serve good food to customers and break-even every month. The couple has no plans to increase their prices, even in response to future GST increases.

Vibrant local flavours to try

Li Jie De Dian
Laksa prepared with John’s homemade recipe. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar

If you’re stopping by Li Jie De Dian, the signature laksa (from S$4) is a dish that we’d recommend. One of the bestselling items here, it’s prepared with a homemade recipe that has been tried and tested to achieve the best flavours

The dish sees silken bee hoon noodles coated in a creamy, spicy-savoury gravy that is both fragrant and bursting with umami goodness. It also incorporates the usual laksa ingredients: Bouncy fish cake slices, a half-boiled egg and chunks of tau pok. 

It’s not too heavy on the spice, either, so little ones can still appreciate this dish.

Li Jie De Dian
Li Jie braised meat rice is a signature item at the eatery. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar

Xuee also suggests trying the Li Jie braised meat rice (SS$6.80), if you prefer something more substantial. Juicy and tender pork belly chunks rest atop a bed of fluffy rice, which has been thoroughly steeped in braised gravy for extra oomph. 

The sauce isn’t overwhelmingly rich and has just the right amount of flavour to elevate the savouriness of the pork belly bits. It’s simple, yet a comforting enough dish that reminds us of home-cooked food.

For the latest eats, check out the new unmanned Chateraise outlet at Bukit Batok that is open 24/7, or read about how local startup Prefer has launched bean-free coffee in a sustainability push. Alternatively, catch up on the newest openings in town

Book a ride to Li Jie De Dian at Ang Mo Kio.

Do explore the GrabFood Dine-in service for awesome deals.

Li Jie De Dian

447 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, 01-1673
Nearest MRT station: Ang Mo Kio
Open: Monday to Sunday (8am to 9.30pm)

447 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, 01-1673
Nearest MRT station: Ang Mo Kio
Open: Monday to Sunday (8am to 9.30pm)

Picture for WP

Phyllis Leong


The resident sweet tooth with a severe addiction to desserts.

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