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To catch the year-end buzz of hungry shoppers, various existing malls have launched their revamped food spaces while eateries are popping up in new malls.
Those who have upped the ante with new food offerings are Millenia Walk, Ion Orchard's basement four food hall and Plaza Singapura's Atrium@Orchard.
New malls that have a strong focus on new brands include 100AM next to Amara Hotel and The Star Vista in Buona Vista.
Millenia Walk's new entrants include a range of chic food and beverage options; from Patisserie G to Taiwan-inspired dessert cafe Bing Bian.
On the tenant mix, a mall spokesman says: "We do not just add F&B outlets blindly but look at the quality of the tenants and pick those with a passion to curate their concepts. Each of them has a unique selling point for our savvy and discerning crowd."
Over at Plaza Singapura's Atrium@ Orchard, the mall completed a $150 million makeover to house about 80 stores in the new wing, to target young working adults and the PMEB crowd.
The mall's general manager Pauline Yeh notes that the food and beverage component has "increased from 17 per cent to the current 20 per cent".
In the heart of town, Ion Orchard also revamped its food hall to introduce fresh ideas for shoppers.
Where: Plaza Singapura, 60 Orchard Road
Percentage of F&B: 20 per cent
What's new: The most buzzing outlet now is flamboyant Malaysian chef Wan's 1 Market (04-45 to 49, tel: 6341-9159). The buffet restaurant is fully booked for the year, but walk-ins are welcome if you are willing to queue. The 450-seater features a wide spread of hearty dishes from satay and rojak to grilled items. Prices start at $21.80++ for the weekday buffet lunch.
Other new eateries drawing queues are Hoshino Coffee (03-84, tel: 6338-3277), which specialises in coffee, souffles and pancakes; Japanese casual eatery Hifumi (04-68, tel: 6338-4712); and Tsukada Nojo (03-81, tel: 6336-5003), for its collagen hotpot, with stock made from organic and free-range chickens from Miyazaki prefecture.
Info: Call 6332-9298 or go to www.plazasingapura.com.sg
Diner's say: Undergraduate Chris George, 22, says: "I like that there are many cafes to chill out with my friends at the new wing of Plaza Singapura. My family and I are also looking forward to trying out Chef Wan's buffet concept as we've heard good reviews of it so far."
THE STAR VISTA
Where: 1 Vista Exchange Green
Percentage of F&B: More than 50 per cent
What's new: The Star Vista is a new foodie haven for people living in the west. The mall boasts everything from American diner Morganfield's (02-23, tel: 6694-3635) which specialises in barbecued ribs, to Taiwanese eatery Lee's Taiwan (02-08) and Korean restaurant Bornga (02-24, tel: 6694 -4696).
Other new concepts include Boston's Seafood Shack (01-46, tel: 6694-3984), Colombian restaurant La Barra (02-21, tel: 6694-2495) and District 10's Bar and Tapas Restaurant (01-42/K3, tel: 6694-2884).
For a quick bite, head to Korean snack joint NeNe Chicken (01-24, tel: 6694-5489), brought in by the Royal T Group, which also owns the Gong Cha bubble tea chain. NeNe serves Korean fried chicken (from $7.90 for four pieces with pickled radish and a drink). Beware the Freaking Hot chicken, which is as spicy as the name claims.
Info: Call 6694-3111 or go to www.the starvista.com
Diner's say: Technician Kenneth Chng, 35, says: "The Star Vista's new food concepts are quite different from the other existing malls. So far, I like NeNe Chicken and Morganfield's. My colleagues and I make it a point to try a new brand every week."
Where: 9 Raffles Boulevard
Percentage of F&B: 30 per cent
What's New: For tea break, head to three-week-old Patisserie G (01-04, www.patisserieG.com), owned by Cordon Bleu-trained Gwen Lim. The place, with furniture by Japanese lifestyle retailer Atomi, features dainty desserts such as the Saint Honore ($8, for dine-in only) which is chantilly cream filled choux puffs.
Other cakes, macarons ($3), madeleines (from $3 a piece), rum and raisin loaf ($28) are also available. If you need an alcohol buzz, there is also champagnes, red and white wines.
Bing Bian (01-105, tel: 6337-1391, www.bingbian.com.sg), is a Taiwan-inspired dessert cafe with a wide variety of ice sets filled with taro balls, sweet potato balls, red bean and pearls.
The fruity series features calamansi, with dried cranberries, jelly and almond flakes; mango and sugar cane. Prices start at $4.90 a bowl.
Another option is Francisca Dessert Parlour (Parco, P2-35/36, tel: 6333-4847), for gelato ($5 to $8), macarons ($2.50 each) and cupcakes ($4).
Order the tea set which includes a cupcake, macaron and truffle. Or chill out at Commune Cafe (02-50, tel: 6337-1038), with its menu of cafe latte ($5), red velvet cake ($3.50), carrot cake ($3.50) and sea-salt caramel brownie ($3.50).
Tea joints include Arteastiq Tea Bone China (02-19/20, tel: 6333-5115) which features ginger ginseng tea ($12) and dang gui bak kut teh soup with 100 per cent grass-fed beef striploin slices ($19.80).
Info: Call 6883-1122 or go to www.millenia walk.com
Diner's say: Accountant Eileen Wee, 30, says: "I like the food concepts in Millenia Walk as you don't necessarily find them anywhere else.
"Also, the mall is not overcrowded and it's nice to take a break and read a book in the cafes."
Where: 100 Tras Street, next to Amara Hotel
Percentage of F&B: Almost 40 per cent
What's new: Japanese brands in the mall include Okada Coffee (03-23) and tea cafe Tsujiri (01-14B) which specialises in Japanese green tea beverages.
Ramen fans can head to Ramen Keisuke Tori King (03-15), sister outlet to the popular Keisuke Tonkotsu King at Orchid Hotel, but be prepared to queue for the hearty chicken-based ramen.
Other new restaurants include House Of Dimpas (01-09, tel: 6222-2129, www.houseofdimpas.com), which serves Asian tapas and roast meats, while The Oyster And Crab Restaurant (01-08) serves oysters, king crab and hairy crab from Hokkaido specially flown in every week.
Info: Call 6879-2565 or go to www.100am.com.sg
Diner's say: Business analyst Gabriel Lim, 39, says: "The more new food places to check out, the merrier for us in the Central Business District.
"However, I do hope that there will be more halal options for my Muslim colleagues. I wouldn't mind more food courts too, for more affordable dining under $10 once in a while."
Where: Basement 4, 2 Orchard Turn
Percentage of F&B: About 20 per cent
What's new: First Love Patisserie (tel: 6238-8006, www.facebook.com/firstlovecake) is a brand from Jakarta that specialises in mille crepe cakes using a Japanese recipe. Two flavours, original and Oreo, are available now and others such as strawberry and blueberry will be available later. The cakes, priced at $6.50 a slice, should be stored for three days only.
Pezzo (www.pezzo.com.sg), a pizza takeaway counter which sells pizzas by the slice at $4.50 each, is a pitstop for a quick meal. Flavours include the classic Hawaiian and Hot Chick, which is a spicy chicken pizza.
They join other new stalls such as Taiwan fried chicken outlet Hot Star Large Fried Chicken; Ama Soy which sells soya beancurd pudding; and fries outlet Sofries, by the people behind Sogurt.
Slated to open by this month is Australian burger joint Charlie & Co, and salad cafe Toss & Turn by Cedele. Australian food emporium jones the grocer will open next month, on the mall's fourth floor.
Info: Call 6238-8228 or go to www.ionorchard.com
Diner's say: Engineer Damien Tan, 29, says: "I'm looking forward to Charlie & Co opening as I was hoping for more new food concepts in the food hall. After the revamp, each shop has more space now, instead of it being too cluttered before."
New brands include First Love Patisserie from Jakarta and local pizza takeaway stand, Pezzo.
A spokesman for Pezzo says it chose Ion Orchard for the mix of shoppers who head to the mall.
"Opening at Ion is a good association for a new brand like ours. We are looking to open in the heartland next."
At least 40 per cent of The Star Vista and 100AM, both new malls, are filled with dining options.
The Star Vista's general manager Billy Chua says: "In line with its positioning as a lifestyle mall, The Star Vista has more than 50 per cent of its 163,000 sq ft net lettable area set aside for dining outlets.
"Many offer alfresco chill-out options where diners can enjoy a meal or drink amid lush greenery. One in four concepts at The Star Vista is new-to-market."
These new concepts include rib restaurant Morganfield's, Korean fried chicken outlet NeNe Chicken, and Taiwanese restaurant Lee's Taiwan.
Mr Rodney Tang, managing director of the Royal T Group, which owns NeNe Chicken and the Gong Cha bubble tea chain, says: "Star Vista is the biggest mall in the West and is surrounded by campuses and offices. There is also a large Korean community in the area too."
The target crowd for 100AM is the corporate diner in the Central Business District.
A spokesman says: "Dining out is the favourite past-time of Singaporeans. With the plethora of choices in the market, new concepts will capture their attention and entice them to visit 100AM."
Arteastiq Tea Bone China at 100AM
To keep up with the competition, older malls are also undergoing major revamps to satiate diners' appetites.
Level 5 of Causeway Point in Woodlands now houses a variety of Asian restaurants as part of its "enhancement works" to revitalise the mall, says a spokesman.
The new eateries include Japanese restaurants Ichiban Boshi and Watami, as well as new shabu shabu buffet restaurant Shabu Sai. Other restaurants slated to open soon include Bali Thai and Crystal Jade Kitchen.
Various parts of Suntec City Mall are boarded up for renovation.
While the mall management declines to reveal what new eateries will open there, SundayLife! understands that the Deliciae Hospitality Management has secured a space in the mall, and Giant hypermarket will be opening a Giant Hyperfresh outlet in basement 1 of the mall next year.
In addition, food court chain Food Republic will open a new food court by Christmas Eve at the Fountain of Wealth. The food arena features 18 stalls and three mini restaurants, and the space will have a contemporary European look.
Neighbouring Marina Square started renovations in the third quarter of this year to carve out a "new gourmet precinct called The Dining Edition".
A spokesman for the mall says: "The Dining Edition will offer a mix of mid-tier to more upscale market restaurants over 50,000 sq ft, with a new external facade facing Raffles Boulevard."
It is slated for completion in the second quarter of next year.
Weighing in on the competitive mall dining scene, Dr Michael Chiam, senior lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic's School of Business and Accountancy, says: "There's a focus on F&B outlets as it draws traffic to malls.
"After all, you can patronise eateries for the most part of the week but not necessarily retail outlets every day. If there are too many dining options, the competition will be too intense. About 30 per cent of the mall is a safe percentage for F&B outlets.
"We still have a lot of mass produced brands dominated by big chains, which has become the model for many malls. So it's good that many are trying to import new brands for people to try."
Business development manager Lydia Ng, 39, says: "I generally dine out at malls since they are conveniently located near MRT stations, so much of my meal planning revolves around which shopping centre has the best food.
"Now, we're quite spoilt for choice but I hope that mall operators don't focus only on those in town, but in the heartland as well."
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on December 16, 2012. For similar stories, go
to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.
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