We have been a bit slack recently and not posted much, but here’s some good stuff we hope more than makes up for it:
40 Jalan Hang Tuah
37 Taman Skudai Baru
T: (018) 6019 7133 639
Jackson and his wife have run their picture framing business from here (their home) for 18 years and they are brilliant. If you are sick of paying Holland Village prices or have a heap of framing that you need to get done and want something that is even better value (and better finished) that our much loved and pretty reasonably priced Star Framers off Farer Road, then hop over to Johor Bahru and go and see him. While you are there, it could only be called good use of time to do some shopping (great fakes in Holiday Plaza but you’ve got to be prepared to hunt around for them) and eating (try the Peking duck in the Chinese restaurant on the 2nd floor of the Mutiara Hotel, handily right next door to Holiday Plaza). Jackson speaks Malay and Chinese fluently as well as a bit of English. To be sure he’ll be around when you are, the best idea is to send him a simple email (in English) to this address: email@example.com. Or get your friend who speaks Malay or Chinese to call him and book you in (thank you Carla & Angel). Once you are there and face to face with each other, communication in English is easy. Plus you can physically see what frames and mountings you are choosing, so it’s all quite straight forward. Jackson is very professional and can make helpful suggestions in terms of the colours mounts should be etc…when you are framing 33 pictures in a oner, you need this as a sanity check. He has a good choice of frames and quite a few samples and examples to look at. Quick turn around time too. Ours was 2 weeks, which is impressive.
BTW: Jackson is slightly out of town in a leafy suburb, about a 10 minute drive from the centre of Johor Baru. Our GPS failed us and couldn’t recognise Jackson’s street name, so we just hailed a cab in JB and followed behind it all the way to his house. Worth doing rather than map reading and cost 20RM (just under $10). Also, if you are crossing the Causeway from SG to JB on a weekend, make sure you go early as traffic can be murder. You can then kill time with a buffet brek at the very smart – no, really, it is – Thistle Hotel (formerly the Hyatt) right in the centre of town. Far more civilised than queuing in traffic…and they will even let you use their pool, post breakfast.
Opening Times: By appointment
T: (+65) 9654 5731
This little gem of a jewellery find is strictly word of mouth and is run by Angel Carew-Jones who is super talented and under prices her fabulous, fun jewellery. Majoring in earrings there are also bracelets and necklaces. She does private sales only (she was a leading light in Retail Therapy’s Wheelock store), just SMS or call for an appointment. She will also make bespoke creations upon request. Names of pieces are playful – like her designs: Bubble Gum (pictured on the left), Me & Mrs M, Skeleton in the Closet, Jolly Bolly. Think classic components assembled with a sometimes witty twist: pearl, jade, glass, crystal and more. We love! Prices start from $28 and go up to around $200+.
Opening Times: By appointment only
Pacific Plaza (#03-02)
9 Scotts Road
T: (+65) 6235 0286
I am a Brazilian. Where it counts, anyway. An addictive beauty must, at Honeypot they are friendly and brilliant. It was one of the early ‘all off’ wax joints before Strip took its grip on the island and it does a great job without reducing waxing styles to an overhead Starbucks style menu with an endless and annoying choice of wax. Take a package out and its only $52 a session (vs regular $63). Hot wax is used here vs strip wax and it really is pretty painless. They say that if you go one week either side of your time of the month, it hurts even less. They have a slightly outdated and annoying sexy kitty décor thing going on but actually, all that does is reinforce the fact that these guys are good…as they’ve obviously been here for years (5 in fact). Oh, and there is a strict no double dipping policy, so sticks only go in to the wax once before being thrown away – very clean and a lot less chance of the dreaded red bumps because of this. They have 2 other outlets including one in Taka – see website for more details. Eldyn in the Pacific Plaza outlet (just a hop, skip and an overpass away from Far East Plaza) is matter of fact and motherly.
Opening Times: 11am-8pm Mon- Sat; 11am-7pm Sun
Ask for: Eldyn
93 Arab Street
T: (+65) 6392 0253
A great place to take visitors to and brilliant if you are after tasteful (as well as not so tasteful) printed Indian cotton tablecloths and napkins. Everything in the shop slightly reminds me of the wall hangings I used to have at university but some designs are really quite OK and work well on an outside table. Avoid the blue elephant design on a white background (just too predictably expat but totally allowed if you are visiting Singapore and live in England). They also sell lovely hand painted papier mache eggs that are great to hang on gnarled hazel branches at Easter time. Go and stock up before they run out. They had one woman come in the day before I did and buy 100.
Opening Times: 9.30am-6pm Mon-Sat, 2pm-6pm Sun
#01-183 Block 21 Ghim Moh Road
T: (+65) 9108 5418
This has a ridiculous name and a tricky sounding address, but it’s really very easy to find and sells really rather decent copy handbags (as well as a bunch of other things which are fab kids goody bag fillers). Park at Ghim Moh market and then walk down the left hand side of the market (as you are looking at it). There are a row of shops also to your left, all facing towards the wet market (there is a pizza place – actually quite good – an optician etc). AG is at the very end of this row with a blue awning. OK, so the quality is not ‘triple A’ but its not at all bad and most definitely worth a look. Cath Kidson is his speciality and they are pretty pass-off-able. Around $13 for a tote. He has Longchamps too which are equally good and vary in size, so if you want a classic sized bag, be lucky as they are not always in stock. Cute Marc Jacobs clutches/make up bags too. Go for lunch at Ghim Moh market afterwards (see Eat Me, Drink Me Local for Ghim Moh market hawker loves). He also has great value ‘character’ rucksacks for kids (Dora etc) as well as other 3-5 year old stuff that they all adore.
Opening Times: 7.30am-6.30pm daily
Orchard Parade Hotel (#01-01)
1 Tanglin Road
T: (+65) 6732 1866
We are: Proper Japanese with price tags to rival restos in Tokyo
Where: Orchard end of Tanglin Road
We’re: Full of Japanese people who know about good food
Wear: Something sleek and stylish; everyone looks at you when you walk in
Best described as a little piece of Japan. Once you have been here once, it will become a firm favourite. A great place to take (or even better, be taken to by) visitors, there is just the right dose of drama, seasoning, exquisite food and good sake (we insist on hot). No prices, so just close your eyes and go for it; you sit around a marketplace array of refrigerated fresh produce that has just arrived from Japan and simply order with your eyes – i.e. point at what looks good and it will be cooked for you. Must tries are the kobe beef skewers which are melt in your mouth deliciousness as well as the ginko nuts, cooked and served with just the perfect amount of salt added to them. There are three sections to the restaurant, each with an identical display of food and with two chefs to each station. The food is cooked in front of you and delivered to diners via a wooden paddle.
Opening Times: 6.30pm-1am (last orders 12.30pm)
ZERO TO HERO
Holland Village Shopping Centre (#02-26B)
211 Holland Avenue
T: (+65) 6466 0722
We love this toy shop. It’s small, quite basic and sells great books; but what we can’t get enough of is their Alex rag dolls. Made from shiny, wipe clean white fabric, they come with a set of washable felt tip pens and will keep little people quiet for hours. Once they have finished ‘styling’ them, just dip in to water, dry, and you are ready to go again. We can’t fly without it. Other varieties include a doodle poodle, pony or ted. Priced at $26.90. (Holland V SC can sometimes be a bit of a maze – just take the escalator up to the 2nd floor, turn left – away from Lims – and beyond the linen store you will find Zero to Hero, on the right hand side).
Opening Times: 10.30am-7pm daily
#B2-06/10 Ngee Ann City
391 Orchard Road
T: (+65) 6735 4936
This is the most massive pharmacy on the whole island. If you are looking for something elusive and want to cut out the smaller and medium branches, with their varying and area dependent stock, this is the big mamma. What’s even better is that on the off chance it doesn’t have what you want, pop next door to a regular sized GUARDIAN (#B2-05) which will. Either that, or it is not for sale in Spore.
BTW: If you want a pharmacy that is open before 9am, try the GUARDIAN in Holland Village, which is open from 8am, and is almost next door to the 24 hour Cold Storage (or just go to Cold Storage). It’s just a regualr sized pharmacy though – nothing like the monolith listed above – but we were thrilled with a before 9 opening time.
Opening Times: 10am-10pm daily