While most of us have been to Orchard Gateway, its neighbour, Midpoint Orchard, has practically no visitors. Places like Sunshine Plaza, Beauty World Centre, and Roxy Square are all commonly known to be desolate too – save for domestic helper and travel agencies, and the occasional barber who still has a red and blue barber’s pole.
But that’s just the surface. Rejoice with us as we blow the dust off these gems and reveal hidden gems within Singapore’s old shopping malls.
Image credit: @janggut_laksa via Instagram
Compared to its atas neighbour i12 Katong, Roxy Square is no match for the new mall’s modern interior and abundance of chain retail stores. But when you just want the taste of the nostalgic Katong food, Roxy Square is the better hands down.
One that you have to try is the Original Katong Laksa, also known as Janggut laksa. This is the original Katong Laksa (from $5.50) – famed for its short rice noodles you only need to use a spoon to devour. The Sunday lunch queue is especially long, but won’t be disappointing.
Address: 50 East Coast Road, Singapore 428769
Opening Hours: 10.30am-8.30pm, Daily (Closed on Sundays)
Contact: Roxy Square website
Most people already know Bras Basah Complex for its second hand bookstores. And for good reason. Mainstay tenants here include Basheer Graphic Books that stocks everything design and art related since 1986. If you’re looking at a specific title, you can call to check with their friendly staff – Basheer’s got you (hard)covered.
Address: 231 Bain Street, Singapore 180231
Opening Hours: 10am-7pm, Daily
Contact: 9726 5377
Image credit: @foodventureswithj via Instagram
Beneath the upper floors of domestic helper agencies and auntie salons, Katong Shopping Centre is possibly best known among foodies for its Katong Mei Wei Boneless Chicken Rice.
Queues for their plates of steamed or roasted chicken rice (from $6.70) are usually long, even after lunch hours. But even with long waiting times, patrons continue to return for their free-flow achar and soup.
Image credit: Ghostbuster 玉皇玄学 via Facebook
Chicken rice aside, you might also want to drop by Katong Shopping Centre’s resident exorcist to rid yourself of any lingering spirits. We’re not kidding: Ghostbuster provides services like spirit and curse removals in addition to regular feng shui consultations such as picking wedding dates and calculating bazi. We’re not sure if these rituals work or not, so we’ll leave it to you to find out.
Address: 865 Mountbatten Road, Singapore 437844
Opening Hours: 11am-7pm, Daily
Contact: 6345 0322
It doesn’t look like anything special at first, but amidst the tuition centres and sleepy, run down demeanour, Beauty World Centre houses an open-air hawker centre on its rooftop.
Image credit: Eatbook
Among its 40 hawkers are a number of hipster joints, including BIG BOYS Sizzling. But this isn’t another run-of-the-mill Western food option you’d find at your neighbourhood kopitiam. True to their name, they’re well-known for their generous portions that cost less than $10. Bring along a peckish friend or 2 to dine on crowd favourites like Cornflake Chicken ($7.90).
Another popular stall is Pink Candy, a Korean hawker that overlooks the Bukit Timah neighbourhood and is wallet-friendly.
Image credit: @michellemichiru via Instagram
Go for their squid and pork belly bulgogi ($13.90) – an interesting mix of protein best paired with steaming hot rice. Otherwise, share the tried-and-tested fried chicken ($14.90) that comes slathered in a sweet and sticky soy glaze.
Address: 144 Upper Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore 588177
Opening Hours: 9am-10pm, Daily
It’s not difficult to find a Korean restaurant in Singapore – most shopping malls and food courts will have a restaurant or stall selling kimchi ramyeon and the likes. But if you’re looking for the authentic stuff made by Koreans, for Koreans, then head to Bukit Timah Shopping Centre.
Image credit: Gayageum via Facebook
Gayageum Korean Family Restaurant in the basement of the shopping centre will convert you to a K-food fan if you aren’t one already, thanks to their homely, authentic taste.
The double fried Korean Fried Chicken (from $21) and Seafood with Kimchi Pancake ($23) are their signatures. Tip: Go with large groups, so you can share not only the large portions but also the cost.
Address: 170 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 588179
Opening hours: Mon 7am-10pm | Tue-Sun 10am-10pm
Contact: 6466 5398 | Bukit Timah Shopping Centre website
Image credit: @honsieponsie via Instagram
Most people know Queensway Shopping Centre as the mall to get all your sporting goods at decent prices. But, they overlook a whole different world of steals – a plethora of thrift stores amongst the sea of sports retailers.
Image credit: @bhabiesmarket via Instagram
One traditional thrifting haunt to hit is Honsie Ponsie. They’re stocked to the brim with vintage graphic tees, sports jerseys, various cuts of denim, and the currently-trendy cargo pants. Bhabie’s Market’s another joint to visit – this one’s got retro Y2K-inspired pieces, as well as interesting reworked accessories such as pants fashioned into tote bags.
Address: 1 Queensway, Singapore 149053
Opening hours: 8.30am-10pm, Daily
Contact: 6479 8676 | Queensway Shopping Centre website
We know about the Concorde Hotel but Concorde Shopping Mall, which is located within the same building, is so obscure that Google Search’s first result is Concorde Shopping Centre. But that doesn’t mean the mall is any less exciting – here’s where you can have a taste of legit Korean and Thai food.
Image credit: Kim Dae Mun via Facebook
Buried in the recess of Concorde Shopping Mall is Kim Dae Mun. Through word of mouth, they’ve managed to gather a cult following for their affordable Korean food. We recommend their Spicy Pork ($10.50) which is a sizzling hotplate made out of marinated pork, spring onions, and cabbage.
Image credit: @shiokshioknightmarket via Instagram
For those already missing Bangkok even after your annual sojourn to Thailand, there’s Shiok Shiok Night Market to calm your sweet and spicy cravings. Choose from mini Boat Noodles ($1.50) to Seafood Family Buckets ($108), and your palette will thank you for the gastronomical journey to the Land of Smiles.
Address: 100 Orchard Road, Singapore 238840
Opening hours: 10am-6.30pm, Daily
Rummage through old school Chinese hits from the 70s to the early 2000s at 东南亚唱片公司 Tang Nan Ah Company. You won’t miss its conspicuous red signage; they’ve got your grandparents’ favourite jams from artistes like Fei Yu-ching, aptly immortalised on cassette tapes and CDs.
Crafty hobbyists can also rejoice, as Sing Mui Heng Craft’s shelves are lined with spools upon spools of patterned fabric, as well as accessories needed to put together an outfit or bag from scratch. Novices who aren’t sure where to begin can sign up for their occasional sewing workshops (from $58) to learn how to sew totes and craft your own soft toys.
Address: 101 Upper Cross Street, Singapore 058357
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9am-6pm | Sat 9am-1pm (Closed on Sundays)
Contact: 6535 9177
Most of us end up here because we forget there’s a difference between Far East Plaza and Far East Shopping Centre. But amid the domestic helper agencies is Shashlik, which sells Russian-Hainanese cuisine.
Image credit: Eatbook
The combination of the 2 doesn’t sound like it’ll work, but hold off on judgement until you try their unique fusion dishes like Borshch Soup ($12). Unlike the magenta-hued beetroot stock you’ll find The Motherland, this one uses a tomato base for the soup.
Another must order is the Russian Coffee ($22) that’s doused in rum and vodka. Watch out, as the waiters will light this drink on fire before it’s served.
Image credit: @the_attic_place via Instagram
This shopping centre does have its fair share of hidden retail gems too. One of which is The Attic Place, a treasure trove of second-hand luxury designer bags like Chanel, Dior, and LV. Qisahn.com is also another shop to visit for anything gaming-related. Think consoles, video games, and peripherals, all sold at competitive prices.
Address: 545 Orchard Road, Singapore 238882
Opening hours: 8am-10pm, Daily
Contact: 6732 1608 | Far East Shopping Centre website
Most people have passed by Midpoint Orchard at least once in their lifetime, but by the shabby-looking structure and blinding buzz of white-fluorescent lights, it doesn’t seem like an attractive hangout spot at all. But looks can be deceiving – Midpoint Orchard has its own hidden easter egg that’ll make your visit worthwhile.
Image credit: @jtowncafe via Instagram
Satisfy your Jakarta street food cravings during your lunch break in the heart of town. The queues are long during lunch, but you simply can’t pass up JTown Cafe’s Bakmie Ayam (from $6.90). So grab a bowl or 2 while you’re there – the dieting can wait.
If you’re looking for an activity to do post-lunch, just make your way upstairs to Games @ PI, one of the largest board game shops in Singapore. They’ve got a wide selection of family-friendly board games like Exploding Kittens and Catan, to more obscure ones like Exit and Dune.
Those that only know how to play Monopoly but want to expand their knowledge of playing board games can also sit in at their board game cafe.
If you get tired of playing games, learn to paint miniature figurines instead. You’ll be surprised at how much entertainment you’ll get, all at a grand price of $0.
Address: 220 Orchard Road, Singapore 238852
Opening hours: 7am-10pm, Daily
Contact: 6732 1718 | Midpoint Orchard website
Peninsula Plaza is one of those unassuming malls around the CBD that’s overshadowed by other megamalls such as ION Orchard and Suntec CIty. However, once you step past its doors you’ll know at once you’ve been missing out.
Apart from restaurants serving up authentic Burmese bites, they’ve got tons of shops that cater to the most fervent of hobbyists. If you love vinyls, then For the Record is your jam. From The Beatles to an $8,000 original 1971 UK Decca pressing of Leaf Hound’s Growers of Mushroom, rock and jazz fans of the ‘60s and ‘70s will be in paradise.
Tip: If you’re looking for a record, just ask Giri or his brother, Sree, to help you. They’re the only ones who can navigate the beautiful mess in their shop and get you the exact press you’re looking for.
Address: 3 Coleman Street, Singapore 179804
Opening hours: 8am-10pm, Daily
Contact: 6416 1146 | Peninsula Plaza website
Image credit: Google Street View via Google Maps
Although Golden Mile Complex has ceased operation since May 2023, some of the shops have shifted not too far from home. New Udon Thai Food and Chiang Mai Thai Seafood Restaurant, for example, have moved to Lavender Street.
Diandin Leluk Thai Restaurant and Fin Music Bar have moved a tad further down Beach Road and now reside in City Gate, a mere 8-minute walk from Golden Mile Complex.
So take some time off, give these old timers a chance, and go easter egg hunting. You never know – you might find something you’ll like even better than jostling in the weekend Orchard crowd.
For more mall-related activities:
Cover image adapted from: @michellemichiru via Instagram
Originally published on 3rd October 2016. Last updated by Khoo Yong Hao on 27th September 2023.
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