A Guide To Hidden Food Gems In Singapore’s Old Shopping Malls
Adapted from source: @tomspalette
Visiting heritage towns and run-down alleys may be a good way to experience what old Singapore was like. But nothing beats stepping into an unassuming, laupok shopping mall and finding out that it’s hiding some serious makan treasures.
Think there’s nothing in old shopping malls except for tuition centres and auntie hair salons? You’re missing out. From decades-old veteran stalls to up-and-coming ventures, these food places have all proven themselves worthy at breathing life into otherwise ulu shopping malls.
So, my fellow explorers, ready your tummies as we uncover the hidden food gems stowed away within these ghost towns.
- Central -
1. Kim Dae Mun - Concorde Shopping Mall
No one frequents Concorde Shopping Mall much. But walk past and you’ll likely be drawn to the fragrant scent of kimchi. Behold Kim Dae Mun, the definition of underrated. Previously just a single stall in a food court, the humble food joint has now expanded to occupy a whole unit on its own.
Wallet-friendly set meals are priced $5.50-$9.50. Try the Spicy Pork Bulgogi Set ($8.50), a satisfying hotplate of juicy pork pieces cooked in tangy kimchi sauce. The Spicy Tteokbokki ($5) - Korean rice cakes - is also a great choice.
Fun fact: the folks here coat their hotplates with water instead of oil - extra health points awarded.
Address: Concorde Hotel #01-03D, 100 Orchard Road, Singapore 238840
Opening Hours: Tue - Sun: 11am - 8.30pm (closed on Mondays)
Telephone: 9112 5910
2. Tom's Palette - Shaw Towers
Don’t confuse Shaw Towers along Beach Road with Shaw Centre at Scotts! While the glossier Shaw along our shopping belt has a modern gelato kiosk, nothing can lure me away from Tom’s Palette at the former.
To date, Tom’s Palette has hatched a whopping 86 ice cream flavours - with the most popular ones being Chocolate Stout, Apple Pie, and Salted Egg Yolk. For the more adventurous, there are the unique White Chocolate Nori, Parmesan Cheese & Cream Crackers, and even a soy sauce-inspired one, Triple S! These are on rotation so if you’re craving a particular flavour, call them up and ask first!
Prices range from $3 to $5 for 2 flavours in a cup, and students get a 10% discount!
Address: Shaw Towers #01-25, 100 Beach Road, Singapore 189702
Opening Hours: Mon - Thu: 12pm - 9.30pm | Fri - Sat: 12pm - 10pm | Sun: 1pm - 7pm
Telephone: 6296 5239
3. Shashlik Restaurant - Far East Shopping Centre
Shashlik Restaurant made news last year for their closing down, before reopening again after protests by loyal fans. Tucked away on an upper floor of Far East Shopping Centre - again, not to be confused with Far East Plaza - the restaurant holds a 30-year history and loyal following.
The dish I remember most distinctly from my family dinners here is the Baked Alaska ($24), a dome of ice cream, cake and meringue set on fire - a visual food spectacle at its best.
Be sure to also try the Borsch Soup ($7), another one of their specialties that features a flavourful broth of tomato-based soup topped off with a dollop of sour cream.
Address: Far East Shopping Centre #06-19, 545 Orchard Road, Singapore 238882
Opening Hours: Tue - Sun: 12pm - 2.15pm, 6pm - 9.15pm (closed on Mondays)
Telephone: 6732 6401
4. Waffletown - Balmoral Plaza
Apart from the regular tuition-goer, Balmoral Plaza is ground rarely tread upon for anything else - other than Waffletown, a 20-year-old business sporting an old-school American diner charm.
Their Waffle Ala-mode ($5.80) was my go-to during my secondary school days - golden brown fluffs of goodness baked to a crisp, paired with a choice of ice cream and fruit.
Waffletown also serves up Western mains like fried chicken, fish & chips and burgers. My rec is the Super Value Meal ($6) - a combo of crispy boneless chicken leg, butter rice, sunny side up egg and a soft drink.
Address: Balmoral Plaza #01-08, 271 Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 259708
Opening Hours: Daily; 11am - 10pm
Telephone: 6836 6536
5. JTown Cafe - Midpoint Orchard
Across the road from 313@Somerset, Midpoint Orchard is easily overshadowed by its glitzier counterparts. But unbeknownst to many, this is the place to go for an authentic taste of Indonesia right in the heart of Singapore.
All hail the Martabak - a traditional sweet, thick pancake consisting of chocolate, cheese and peanuts ($3-$5). JTown Cafe is famed for being the only place in Singapore to sell this king of Indonesian street food.
Be sure to also try the Bakmie Ayam ($5.90), a meal of springy homemade noodles topped with tender chicken chunks.
Address: Midpoint Orchard #B1-04/05, 220 Orchard Road, Singapore 238852
Opening Hours: Mon - Fri: 12pm - 9pm | Sat - Sun: 11am - 9pm
Telephone: 9230 5040
6. Thai Tantric - Orchard Towers
The bars and massage parlours may give Orchard Towers its sleazy reputation, but the place is also usually packed with loyal foodies savouring their authentic Thai comfort food.
Robust and thick, their Green Curry Chicken ($10) has to be one of the best I’ve tasted. For some set lunch options, the Pineapple Fried Rice With Floss ($7) is a good bet, followed by a cup of Thai Milk Tea (U.P. $2) that comes with it to wash everything down.
Address: Orchard Towers #03-44, 400 Orchard Road, Singapore 238875
Opening Hours: Mon - Sat: 11.30am - 10.30pm | Sun: 3pm - 10.30pm
Telephone: 9866 9841
7. L’eclair By Sarah Michelle - Singapore Shopping Centre
The name of the mall itself may raise some brows. An inconspicuous, brown building half-hidden by foliage, it’s easily overlooked as a dingy place with little behind its walls - but you’d never have guessed at the high tea paradise within.
As Singapore’s first specialty eclair shop, expect to satisfy your sweet tooth with light choux pastries garnished with unique cream fillings and toppings.
Mainstays are the Ispahan (Rose, Raspberry, Lychee), 66% Mexique Dark Chocolate and Tahitian Vanilla & Pecans. Seasonal flavours like Pandan Kaya and Lavender Milk Chocolate are also available from time to time.
A box of 2 or more eclairs is priced from $15 - a little heavy on the wallet, but these Parisian treats are by no means the cheapo variety half-filled with air.
Address: Singapore Shopping Centre #01-28, 190 Clemenceau Avenue, Singapore 239924
Opening Hours: Tue - Fri: 11am - 8pm | Sat: 11am - 9pm | Sun: 11am - 6pm (closed on Mondays)
Telephone: 9101 1971
8. Cuscaden Patio Cafe And Pub - Ming Arcade
Ming Arcade, once host to Singapore’s first theatre-disco lounge, was the place to be for a dance party. Today, Cuscaden Patio Cafe And Pub on the ground floor takes centre stage there for affordable and hearty pub fare.
The star of the show here are the chicken wings. At just $10 for half a dozen, these babies paired with a side of chicken rice chili have garnered rave reviews.
With cheap $10 beers too, this place is a popular lure among professionals and students looking for a low key get-together.
Address: Ming Arcade #B1-111, 21 Cuscaden Road, Singapore 249720
Opening Hours: 3pm - 1am (Mon, Wed, Thu), 3pm - 2am (Tue), 3pm - 3am (Fri), 4pm - 3am (Sat), Closed on Sundays.
- East -
9. Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice - Katong Shopping Centre
In its heyday, Katong Shopping Centre was the first air-conditioned mall in Singapore, earning it the definition of coolness. Today, it’s best known for its trove of maid agencies - alongside this hidden gem that’s proven to be a main draw for hungry Easties.
Sprinkled with fried garlic, shredded carrots and radish, Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice will more than satisfy your cravings. Expect perfectly roasted chicken poached in a fragrant soy sauce, paired with generous portions of ginger too. Priced at $4.50, this also comes with perks like free flow soup and achar!
Address: Katong Shopping Centre #B1-85/87, Katong Gourmet Centre Stall 3, 865 Mountbatten Road, Singapore 437844
Opening Hours: 10am - 8pm
Telephone: 9789 6073
10. Janggut Laksa (The Original Katong Laksa) - Roxy Square
Janggut Laksa ($3) lays a strong claim to the coveted title of being the original Katong laksa stall. Short rice noodles make for effortless slurps, while the rich laksa gravy evokes a homely relish sure to warm the tummy.
It’s pretty well-hidden, so if you’re having trouble locating it, just ask a few of the hair salon owners in the mall and they’d be happy to point you in the right direction.
Address: Roxy Square #01-64, 50 East Coast Road, Singapore 428769
Opening Hours: 8.30am - 5.30pm
Telephone: 6440 4633
- West -
11. Rise & Grind Coffee Co. - Bukit Timah Plaza
Dishing out a hearty menu of affordable brunch staples, Rise & Grind Coffee Co. has definitely given Bukit Timah Plaza a one-up on the ‘cool hang’ radar.
The big name here is the Japanese-Western fusion of Sweet Potato Fries with Mentaiko Mayo ($10). Some may find the creaminess a little jelak after a whole bowl; but it’s ideal if you’re craving a creamy, flavourful meal.
For those sick of the usual cafe fare, you’ll look forward to HEI AMIGO ($16). A novel take on Huevos Rancheros - the classic Mexican breakfast - expect tortillas stuffed with scrambled eggs, topped off with chorizo sausages, and drizzled with a mélange of cheddar, guacamole and greek yoghurt.
Address: Bukit Timah Plaza #L1-CA1 (Opposite DBS Bank), 1 Jalan Anak Bukit, Singapore 588996
Opening Hours: 10am - 9pm (Mon to Thu), 10am - 10pm (Fri), 9am - 10pm (Sat), 9am - 9pm (Sun)
Telephone: 9154 8550
12. My Cosy Corner - Coronation Shopping Plaza
Tucked away on the second floor of Coronation Shopping Plaza, My Cosy Corner sports the same look as its mall mother - a bleached yellow sign and old school simplicity.
Here, the secret is in the craft - each popiah is made to order and served fresh with ingredients stuffed to the brim. At $2.50 a roll, this is the place for authentic homespun popiah.
Other local delights there include kueh pie tee, nonya-style laksa, mee rebus and mee siam at very affordable prices.
Address: Coronation Shopping Plaza #02-02, 587 Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 269707
Opening Hours: 10am - 7.30pm (Mon to Sat), 11am - 4pm (Sun)
Telephone: 6463 8286
- North -
13. Fragrant Garden - Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre
Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre is perhaps the most deserted of the lot - with mostly shuttered units and the occasional T-shirt printing shop. But the ground floor is always bustling with families because of Fragrant Garden.
A slight twist on the Teochew staple of steamed pomfret, the succulent Steamed Halibut ($49) here is a must-try, with a clear briny soup that’s refreshing on the palate.
Don’t be deceived by its dingy facade - this place does the crisp, fragrant flavours of Teochew fare best.
Address: Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre #01-15/16, 756 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534626
Opening Hours: 11.30am - 2.30pm, 5.30pm - 10pm (Tue to Sun), Closed on Mondays.
Telephone: 6289 7301
Foodies, explore away!
The next time you’re on a food trail, skip the hipster hotspots and venture into the true untouched floors of laupok shopping malls. It may take a bit of trial-and-error to get to some of these places, but you’ll be glad for the pot of gold at the end.
Pssst...if you’re really looking to crown yourself a real Singaporean know-it-all, check out all the other hidden gems we found in old shopping malls here!