Wednesday, May 13, 2009

STI: Malls go big on the nosh

May 10, 2009

Malls go big on the nosh

With three malls in Orchard Road opening soon, foodies will have a varied menu with more food outlets

By Rebecca Lynne Tan and Huang Lijie 


Three new malls are opening in Orchard Road soon and this is good news to not just shoppers.


Foodies, too, can look forward to the launches as the malls are devoting a large portion of rental space to food and beverage outlets.


Orchard Central opens next month, ION Orchard in July and 313@Somerset in November. Orchard Central has about 35 per cent of rental space dedicated to F&B while 313@Somerset has allotted just over 30 per cent.


Ms Susan Leng, retail management director of Far East Organization, which runs Orchard Central, says other malls typically set aside only 20 to 25 per cent of space for F&B.


'We see an opportunity to offer shoppers in the Somerset area a wide range of food and beverage options which will appeal to various taste buds and pockets,' she adds.


Many of the food outlets in the three malls will be new concepts, flagships or first-time restaurant entrants into Singapore's dining scene.


The group behind mid-priced food chain The Asian Kitchen, which has seven outlets islandwide, will be opening two new concept restaurants in Orchard Road. They will be the group's first eateries in the area.


The first is an all-day Taiwanese street-food eatery in ION Orchard and the second is a Japanese yakitori and shochu bar in 313 @Somerset.


Says one of the group's partners, Mr Cary Gee, 33: 'Opening another Asian Kitchen would be pretty boring.'


The malls' premium rental rates have not deterred the operators from setting up shop there, such as new mid-ranged Japanese chain entrant Watami, which will open in ION Orchard in July.


Watami Singapore's brand communications manager Bae Soh Young, 33, says: 'Rent is higher, but we believe that's where our target consumers will head to.'


Indeed, operators say that just being located along the Orchard Road stretch is an asset.


Many told LifeStyle that opening in Orchard Road was always on the cards - it was just a matter of finding an opportunity.


The Marakana Group, a 10-year-old F&B company which has four restaurants under its portfolio, including Thai restaurant Table 108 and La Cave Wine Bar and Restaurant in Chijmes, has been wanting to set up shop in Orchard Road for some time.


'We had an opportunity in 2004, but it did not materialise,' says its group general manager, Mr Bob Khan, 37.


The group will be opening casual street-food eatery Central Thai in Orchard Central. It will serve authentic Thai dishes and also those with a twist, such as tom yam seafood and green curry pizzas.


Restaurateurs say penetrating the Orchard Road bloc was no easy feat.


Mr Eldwin Chua, 31, managing director of Paradise Group Holdings, which will be opening its third casual Chinese eatery Paradise Inn in 313@Somerset, says: 'We courted the mall and worked very hard to secure the space.'


He says they succeeded only after rounds of 'presentations, proposals and food tasting with the (mall's) management'.


Foodies and mall-goers alike cannot wait for a taste of what is to come.


Civil servant Wu Zhining, 27, has not been eating at Orchard Road for a while because she finds the food offerings there rather boring.


'But I am also looking forward to new shops such as Uniqlo at ION Orchard, so I would definitely check out the food and beverage outlets there too.'



Where: 313 Orchard Road

Nearest MRT: Somerset

Opens: November


The mall will have three unique dining clusters. The food hall in basement three, which is one floor below the linkway to the MRT, will offer a range of casual restaurants and takeaway options to cater to commuters, office workers on the go and residents in the area. On the first level, the Discovery Walk, an open-air pedestrian stretch built over the Stamford Canal, will feature cafes and restaurants with a relaxed ambience. The walkway will have a glass canopy overhead, air conditioning to cool the area as well as landscaping and an interactive water feature. The fifth floor will boast the largest Food Republic outlet to date.


Basement Three



This seafood and meat casual restaurant by the Fish & Co. group will have a similar menu to its first outlet in Tampines 1, which opened recently, but its modern interior design will set it apart.


Hot Tomato Cafe & Grill

This new 100-seat casual eatery with two sister outlets - Hot Tomato Express in Plaza Singapura and Hot Tomato Coffeehouse in Republic Plaza - will offer grilled meats and seafood such as sirloin steak, US prime rib and Norwegian salmon.


Japanese restaurant by Creative Food Concepts

Expect a new restaurant brand by Mr Takaaki Takagi, owner of four popular Japanese eateries including Japanese restaurant Tampopo in Liang Court.


Le Grenier a Pain

The second branch of this bakery from France will focus on more authentic French breads as well as increase its variety of French pastries, cakes and tarts. It will also offer freshly made French sandwiches.


Paradise Inn

This 150-seat Chinese eatery, unlike its two other outlets in West Coast Plaza and Funan Digitalife Mall, will have a look that is more chic. Its menu will also have items exclusive to the store.



The fourth outlet of this speciality hotdog joint will introduce a breakfast menu of pancakes with flavours such as banana walnut to cater to the morning crowd of commuters and office workers. The 80-seat eatery will also introduce items with premium ingredients such as wagyu burger.


The Muthu's Flavours

This will be the flagship Indian restaurant by the owners of Muthu's Curry in Race Course Road. This outlet will spearhead its rebranding exercise and name change to reflect its push towards a modern look and feel. Its fish head curry, however, remains the signature dish at the restaurant, which will seat about 150 people.


Level One


Central Chatterbox

Opened by the owners of Hong Kong cafe chain Central, this new outlet, while still a Hong Kong cafe, will boast a revamped menu with newer creations including a beefed-up drinks and desserts section. Copies of the latest editions of Hong Kong gossip magazines will also be available in the outlet for diners to peruse.


Flying Chillis

This new Thai restaurant, which costs more than $1.5 million to set up, is by Silverwell, a Malaysia-based restaurant group. It will offer authentic Thai fare whipped up by a team of Thai cooks and its signature items include green curry chicken and tom yam river prawn.



The largest-to-date Marche outlet here. Customers will be greeted by Marche Natural Bakery, a standalone bakery selling breads made on the premises. The baked goods are available for takeaway. The outlet is connected to its restaurant one level below. The 400-seat restaurant will introduce made-to-order wood-fired pizzas as well as new pasta, soup and rotisserie offerings.



This soup, salad and sandwich cafe will sport a more upmarket look than its two other stores in Suntec City and OUB Centre. The menu will also be expanded to include tapas items and main courses to cater to late-night diners.


The Amino Bar

This new protein shake bar has on its menu protein supplements, protein bars as well as healthy sandwiches and meat dishes, all for takeaway.


Yakitori Grill & Shochu Bar

To be opened by The Asian Kitchen restaurant group, this is the first Japanese eatery concept it is rolling out. Besides serving yakitori (Japanese grilled meat skewers), diners can also opt for soba and sashimi. A selection of shochu (Japanese distilled spirits) is also available.


Level five


Food Republic

The largest Food Republic outlet to date. More than 70 per cent of its hawkers will be new to the food court brand.



Where: 2, Orchard Turn. Corner of Paterson and Orchard roads

Nearest MRT: Orchard

Opens: July


Taste Paradise

This will be the flagship outlet for Taste Paradise, which already has an outlet in Mosque Street. It will be a mid-to high-end imperial-themed restaurant offering all-day dim sum and roast meats alongside its signature dishes such as braised superior shark's fin in supreme broth (above) and crispy spring roll.



It will serve Japanese-style Western cuisine and authentic Japanese fare. Watami also has a long list of mocktails and cocktails to choose from. Expect to spend from $15 for lunch and from $25 for dinner.


Sho Teppan

A new concept by established food and beverage company Creative Eateries, Sho Teppan will be a casual do-it-yourself teppanyaki eatery. Diners sit at cosy bar counters and cook their food in non-stick pots over induction heaters. It will be open all day and cost from $15 per head.


Lu Gang Xiao Zhen

From the group that brought you the casual Chinese eatery The Asian Kitchen, this new concept will serve Taiwanese street cuisine throughout the day. From $4 a dish. Expect to spend from $8 to $18 per person.


The Nautilus Project

This all-day dining Western seafood restaurant comes from the same owners of steakhouse Prime Society in Dempsey Hill. It will also feature an oyster bar. Prime Society's corporate executive chef New Zealander Jason Dell will be creating the new restaurant's menu. Expect to spend about $32 for lunch and $65 for dinner.


Aoba Ramen

Speciality third- generation Japanese ramen store which serves shoyu (soya sauce-base, left), tontoro (fatty pork neck) and shio (salt-based) ramen.



Where: 181, Orchard Road (opposite Centrepoint)

Nearest MRT: Somerset

Opens: Next month


Fruit Paradise

Fruit tarts are all the rage in Japan right now. These immaculately decorated tarts come in flavours such as strawberry chocolate and caramel chocolate and banana. From $7.50 a slice or $75 for a whole tart.


Central Thai

A relaxed and casual Thai street-food restaurant which will also serve interesting fusion-style dishes such as tom yam seafood pizza and green curry chicken pizza. Starters cost from $7.80 and mains below $20.


Duo Le

A Chinese restaurant from China's Shaanxi province, it will serve cuisines from Guangdong, Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces. Signature dishes include Shaanxi dumplings and noodles, and other delicacies such as pig's trotters in fragrant vinegar.


Nolboo Hangari Galbi

This is Nolboo's first outlet in Singapore, serving authentic Korean cuisine with all-time favourites such as bibimbab and barbecue dishes. The restaurant uses a unique cooking method of marinating meats in traditional Korean earthen-ware.



This flagship outlet will serve home-style Japanese cuisine with family recipes and favourites such as katsudon (above). The Japanese chain has 235 outlets in Japan, and more in Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia. Expect to spend about $20 per person.


The Mussel Guys

Family-friendly Australian surf-and-turf restaurant with seafood such as mussels, prawns and calamari, and meats such as chicken and steak.



Opened by Japanese restaurateur Koji Imai, who owns 30 restaurants in Japan under the Maimon-chain and one in New York called Megu. Patrons will be able to watch chefs at work from the outlet's radial seating design.

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