Tong Yuan Industrial Building (#02-01)
85 Playfair Road
T (+65) 6281 8465
Design. It’s all about design. I want beauty with practicality, functionality and form. If you, like me, want items of furniture that make you smile just to look at them, knowing that whatever you paid for them you will probably get back in thirty years – oh, and yes, they will still be functioning and beautiful in thirty years, so you probably won’t be able to bear parting with them – then look no further.
It was all I could do not to leave with an eighties braun record player, a walnut bookshelf room divider and a stunning glass table with logic defying, twisted, cherry trestle legs. I wanted to sit or sleep on everything. Each item has been carefully chosen by Nathan Yong himself (a multiple award winning furniture designer) so you can actually hold real conversations about the designs and share informed appreciation for the pieces. The whole showroom is set in the most fabulous seventies building – almost worth the trip itself if you are in to that sort of thing. (There is another outlet in Park Mall, called their ‘City Spot’; open 11am-8pm daily – see website for more details).
BTW: While you are there, check out Egg3 upstairs (see write up below) – very different but fun if you are into slightly more ‘frou frou’ replica distressed French items, funky stuff, leather and diamante chesterfields a la ‘Scarlet Hotel’, punctuated with the odd fun design or two and some really quite nice handbags!
Opening Times: 12am-6pm daily
Tong Yuan Industrial Building (#07-01)
85 Playfair Road
T: (+65) 6281 2197
Kitsch, funky, cool and sometimes a little crazy, if it is a replica Bubble chair, a white leather chesterfield or a distressed french renaissance style mirror, this is your place. It is also full of some really quite nice little people’s clothes, good pressies and a few quite interesting larger pieces, but mostly it is just fun. Over-sized replica regency chairs sprayed silver with grey velvet upholstery stand next to some really very nice aluminium french cafe style chair remakes – it is nothing if not eclectic!
They have a few outlets but this is their HQ where they also have an interiors service. They are open by appointment only during the week but go on Friday or Saturday between 10am and 6.30pm under your own steam. Make it around noon and you can go and check out the rather more elegant and accomplished designs (that come with a rather larger price tag) at Grafunkt in the same building.
Opening Times: Mon-Thu by appointment only. 10am-6.30pm Fri & Sat. Closed Sun
Keppel Workshop (#01-05/06 & 02-04/05)
43 Keppel Road
T: (+65) 6225 5261
If Chinese antiques (or we should perhaps say ‘antiques’ as anything over about 20 years old seems to be considered as antique, although we would beg to differ) are not what you are after, or you like an eclectic mix, Skanteak offers clean lines and modern designs accompanied by a reasonable price tag. All their stuff – from beds to desks and cupboards – is, as the name suggests, made of teak and, admittedly, some of it can be a bit officey looking. However, if you choose carefully and can imagine it out of the teak jungle where you are looking at it, the designs are quite zen-on-a-budget. What’s more, if you are spanking a bunch of cash all within a the same month and your cards are taking a bit of a beating, they will also – with no interest added – let you pay in installments. No brainer, even if your cash flow is healthy.
Opening Times: 12pm-9pm daily
#01-03 High Street Centre
1 North Bridge Road
T: (+65) 63387577
It might not be at the top of everyones shopping list, but recently we needed a good office chair. We went to the ubiquitous Ikea and were horrified at the prices – $350 for a remotely half decent one! We stumbled across Solos by accident – it is in a bit of no mans land by the bridge on North Bridge Road opposite the parliament buidings. Park inside the High Street Centre and this store is street facing on the ground floor. They have about 50 different office chairs to try out and choose form, starting at about $75. There is no miniumum order and you can pay them cash when they deliver, which they will for free for any spend over $100. You can also choose from a raft of different colours to make your grotty office chair slightly more bearable and change the arms to whatever shape you prefer. We are going to order one that costs less than $150, in a lovely teal colour with funky arms that will be delivered to my door within three days.
Opening Times: 9am-7.30pm Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm Sat. Closed Sun
TAYLOR B FINE DESIGN
43 Keppel Road (#03-01/02)
T: (+65) 8469 7705 / 9177 0004
E: email@example.com (they don’t have a website)
You may have moved from a flat, which had everything built in, to a house, with nothing in it at all in the way of furniture. Or maybe you’ve just arrived in Singapore. Either way, you need furniture and you need it now. Bin the idea of saving money by buying stuff from Ikea. First off, by the time you’ve factored in assembly and delivery, it’s not actually that cheap. Or certainly not as cheap as we feel it should be. Spend a little bit more, and get some proper stuff that will not only hold its value, but looks lovely and solid….and it will be made of real wood vs that unacceptable plywood our Swedish friends can’t seem to get enough of. If you are nodding in agreement, then Taylor B should be your first port of call. Owned by a Canadian and an American lady who met through their children’s school, they have a background in interior design and have lived all over the world, including China (where they source a lot of their stuff from). Staff are really helpful and one of the owners is most likely to be there when you visit. Quite hard to find (call ahead and get directions from them), park and then walk round to the back of the building where you take an enormous cargo lift up to the 2nd floor. Walking from the dingy corridor into their huge and often bustling shop/showroom is a bit like being in Alice in Wonderland and falling down a rabbit hole. In a good way.
Pieces we love from here include antique Chinese chests (around $200), Chinese style cupboards (often these are shelved as opposed to having a hanging rail – not a problem as they have an on-site handyman who can whip out some or all of the shelving and put a rail in for you.) Has the feel of an auction house but with stuff you actually want to buy (vs expat auctions which we haven’t had much luck with recently). While you are checking out Taylor B it’s worth popping in to Skanteak too – see below
Opening Times: 11am-5pm Mon-Fri; 12pm-5pm Sat & 3pm-5pm Sun. Do call ahead if you are planning a weekend visit just to double check they are open and not on a buying trip. Weekdays are safe enough.
db BISTRO MODERNE
Marina Bay Sands (#B1 The Shoppes)
T: +65 6688 8525
Found at the Galleria Level of The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sand, just across from the theatre, Daniel Boulud’s offering is a rather understated but nice spot. He does a seriously good looking burger for $22 and up to $42 if you want the signature one with foie gras. The Heirloom tomato salad was just lovely but it was the Croque Monsieur that won the day. Have it with a fried egg on top and call it a Croque Madame. Call it whatever you like – it the best damn thing we have eaten this side of Paris. They don’t do a proper latte – be warned – they do the french rather stronger, smaller version but good (though it will cost you $8, so it should be). Their frites ain’t half bad either.
Opening Times: They are open for lunch and dinner (but not in between) everyday from 12pm-2.30pm; dinner runs from 5.30pm-10.30pm. Go on the weekend though and you get the Croque Monsieur on the brunch menu from 11am.
Midview Building (#07-13)
50 Bukit Batok Street 23
T: (+65) 6269 6060
Just moved a cooker over from the UK and found out that natural gas is nothing like the same pressure as the bottled gas which we use here? Don’t panic. Call these guys who know everything about gas and ovens. They will supply you with a regulator and change all the nozzles within each gas burner. This is essential as without changing these, your oven will explode. Good to know! They have branches all over town so can usually reach you within 30 mins max.
Opening Times: 9am-7pm daily
583 Orchard Road
T: (+65) 6734 3610
This is run by Andrew who has been here for years. He is lovely and knows everything there is to know about toys, books and children’s games. If you are trying to find something specific, ask him as he can order it in sometimes. They sell all sorts of fun stuff but with a lot less tat than most toyshops out there. He is the only Galt stockist in Singapore. This is only important if you are trying to track down an elusive but utterly brilliant card paged colouring book which is an in- flight essential for your little one: fill up the pen with water and ‘colour’ all the pages in (multi coloured shapes and figures appear magically) and in 10 minutes it will have faded back to its original state of white…and you can do it all over again. Hours of fun and worth tracking down if you have a 3 year old. The shop is technically named as above, however, the majority of his signboard says Nurture Craft, so look out for this rather than Innovate Toy Centre which is in tiny letters.
Opening Times: 10.45am-7.45pm Mon-Sat; 11am-7pm Sun
7C & 9 Binjai Park
T: (+65) 6468 7116 / 6468 7119
Li Peng is great and knows pretty much everything about all of the pieces for sale here. They sell a mixture of modern and antique stuff: some ‘antique’ and some proper antique. You can usually get a discount of some sort (nothing huge) and they have a handyman who will add rails/remove shelves if you want to change the use of a piece. Definitely worth a look if on the hunt for a proper antique. Nice pizza place a few doors up for lunch, or try the Nyonya offering a few doors down which is very local and very good. Keep walking down the street and you will see a bunch of other furniture shops which are worth looking at to get your eye in over pricing. We’ve also bought from some of the other ones (Chinese Art Centre, #25) but had more luck with Art Trend.
Opening Times: 10.30am-6.30pm daily
Block 21 Ghim Moh Road (01-213)
T: (+65) 6465 1338
Who’d have though Casanova lived on Ghim Moh market square! This is only a find if you live locally to Ghim Moh market/Sixth Ave; you wouldn’t schlep all the way here if you didn’t live close by. Happily for us, it’s just down the road, so we love this for a low key Sunday sups or a mid week bite. Owned by Salvo who is, as his name suggests, a real, live Italian, we are thrilled with their good, simple pizza that comes from neither from Spizza nor La Forketta. Formerly known as Pizza Donato, this is under new ownership and boasts a chef from Oso as well as someone from Garibaldi. Not bad, although not sure exactly what he did at Garibaldi – they didn’t elaborate. Possibly took people’s coats, as if he was their head chef, it would be too good to be true – and they’d have undoubtedly mentioned it. It’s not super cheap considering the market location – expect to pay around $19 per pizza – but it is delicious and surprisingly authentic.
Opening Times: 10am-3pm; 5pm-11pm Tues-Sun. Closed Mon.
293 Holland Road
T: (+65) 9320 7802 / 8113 9158
We’ve been hunting for something like this for ages after failing to satisfactorily sharpen our own knives at home, having bought every available gadget and gizmo that purports to guarantee a razor sharp edge. None seem to work. These guys are the real deal. Prices vary according to knife size. PS: They are not a shop, but a little stall just opposite HomeFix on level 2 of JCS.
Opening Times: 10am-7pm daily, except Wed when they are closed.
Tanglin Shopping Centre (#03-48)
19 Tanglin Road
T: (+65)6733 1465 / 9863 1310
Going on a boat tour in Vietnam and need a proper life jacket for your child? This is the place to go to. They stock all sizes from child to adult (minimum kids weigh is 15lbs, although arguably, something is better than nothing if they are below this weight). They also sell rashies for adults (O’Neil and quite nice) as well as all-in-one swimmers for little people.
Opening Times: 11am-6pm Mon-Sat. Closed Sun
56 Serangoon Road
T: (+65) 6297 3231
If you want to buy fabulously priced spices from obscure (amchoor powder) to obvious (bay leaves) then this is the place to come. A bag of 12 cinnamon sticks is around $2 just to give you a bench mark against Cold Storage. Snatch up armfuls of fresh coriander while you are here as well as a few Indian mangoes for good measure. Really helpful staff will locate everything for you in a trice. On the corner of Serangoon and Campbell Lane, on the opposite side of the road to Tekka Market. (If you know you are going to be super quick, you can get away with a spot of illegal parking on a double yellow on Campbell Lane.)
Opening Times: 9am-11pm daily
38 Holland Grove Road
T: (+65) 6314 1597
You can’t miss this. It’s got a bright yellow shop and is on the corner of the crescent, facing Henry Park School. A great local find and Lewis, who owns and runs this shop alongside his wife, really knows his stuff. They sell Bollinger for $79.90 a bottle which officially makes them the cheapest supplier in Singapore. It is not always in stock though, so give him your details in order to take advantage when it is. Payment by cash or cheque will give you a further 10% discount off marked prices (off everything except Bollinger). You need to study the displayed labels carefully as he has a system: the large printed price is the supermarket price you would ordinarily be paying for the wine; the 2nd (cheaper) price is his price and provided you are paying cash, take a further 10% off it. He is very knowledgeable which makes it a pleasure to buy wine here and support him in his quest for quality and fair pricing. Also check out http://www.thelocalnose.com for more wine info and recommendations on top value for money wines in Singapore and where to buy them.
Opening Times: 12noon-6.30pm daily
5 Ridgewood Close
T(+65) 6466 8078
This is a real favourite. If you don’t already know and love it, you soon will. In
fact, would go so far as to say that it is the cheap and cheerful (and crucially, very good) Thai restaurant you have been looking for. The Thai family who run it (they own 4 E-Sarns across the island) used to run a hawker stall at Farrer Road market called ‘Neng’s Kitchen’ before becoming so popular that they branched in to the restaurant business. Neng is still very much in charge and handpicks and trains all the native Thai chefs in each venue. If you are planning on coming here, it’s worth calling ahead and reserving a table as we have been caught out before. And there is nothing worse that anticipating a heavenly pomelo salad and green chicken curry only to find out that you can’t have it because they are full. Firm favourites include the herb salad – sounds unimpressive but just try it – good old thai green prawn curry, weeping tiger and pomelo salad (the papaya salad is very disappointing, don’t bother with it but the pomelo is heavenly). Sticky mango rice for pudding or otherwise pop next door to fab Japanese waffle and ice cream parlour for a raspberry sorbet to cleans the palette. Oh – and we almost forgot, the best bit is that for a $2 corkage charge (per person), you can also bring your own wine. (There is a wine store a few doors down if you have failed to remember to bring your bottle – but be warned, they can be a bit hit and miss). If you have forgotten to chill your bottle of Cloudy to a suitable temperature, E-Sarn will also provide an ice buckets for $3.
Opening Times: 11.30am-10pm Tue-Sun. Closed Mon. See website for other outlets and their opening times
Far East Plaza (#03-05)
14 Scotts Road
T: (+65) 6733 3597
If you need a really good cobbler who can be bothered to do work that Mr Minute sayshe can’t/won’t do (as there’s not enough money in it to make it worth his while), then these guys are for you. They are so neat at mending and sticking and making good that we are forever loyal. Go and see Regina the tailor (under BUY ME FOR HER/Her Tailor) while you are here and it makes it feel like a more worthwhile trip. As their rather corny name implies, they do keys as well as shoes.
Opening Times: 11am-9pm Mon-Sat. Closed Sun