Club Street, Robertson Quay and Ann Siang may be the hip spots where new restaurants seem to open every week, but the malls on Orchard Road have not lost their appeal among savvy restaurateurs.
New-to-market brands are entering the scene, including Thai restaurant Nara Thai at Ion Orchard, hot dog joint The Mustard Incident at Tangs Orchard, Arossa Wine & Grill at Scotts Square, and Sushi Kuu at Palais Renaissance.
The Heeren, which is undergoing a revamp and will have department store Robinsons as its anchor tenant, is slated to re-open by the second quarter of next year. Both are tightlipped about their plans.
Chef-owner Mervin Goh of the Akashi Group will be opening two new concepts there - Gyoza Ya, which specialises in Japanese dumplings, and sushi shop Sushi Goshin.
On the location, Mr Goh says: "Robinsons is one of the reasons we decided to open at The Heeren. It is a key anchor tenant that will attract high traffic to the mall."
While plans for the dining options at Shaw Centre have not been confirmed, SundayLife! understands that the iconic steakhouse The Ship will return to the mall, and there will be a food court in the basement.
Current eateries there include Dome cafe and Japanese restaurant Tonkichi, as well as restaurants under the Les Amis Group.
Older brands that have been eyeing Orchard Road as a prime location have also started to branch out into the heart of town.
For example, Vietnamese restaurant Wrap & Roll, which opened first at The Star Vista, opened at Ion Orchard this month.
A spokesman for the restaurant says: "After the good response at The Star Vista from Singaporeans, it affirmed the potential of Vietnamese cuisine. Ion Orchard is an iconic mall that is in a central location and attracts a wider shopping audience from young to old."
It plans to open at least 10 outlets islandwide, noting that the dining scene is "saturated" with Japanese and Chinese restaurants.
Also looking to highlight authentic cuisine in town is Nara Thai, which serves authentic Thai food.
Mr John Wangwanitkul, one of the managing directors of Nara Thai Cuisine Singapore, says: "I think the Ion management has got it right by revamping the area (on Basement 3) into a casual Asian dining area. The tenant mix right now compared to six months ago is much stronger."
Other new outlets at Ion Orchard include Just Like It, an ice-cream shop that uses liquid nitrogen as a freezing agent for the dessert, Indonesian eatery Indobox and candy store Sophisca from Taiwan, which will launch next month.
Over at Tangs Orchard, new eats include the much-anticipated doughnut chain Krispy Kreme, slated to open on Oct 12, while the other eateries will open by November.
They include the popular popiah brand in Joo Chiat, Kway Guan Huat, and Peranakan restaurant PeraMakan will set up a deli there.
PeraMakan's owner Kelvin Lee, says: "We were invited to open by Tangs' chief executive officer as he is a regular diner at PeraMakan. He likes that our pastries have been 'Peranakan-ised'. For example, we have a ngoh hiang roll instead of sausage roll, as well as babi pongteh pies."
A spokesman for hotdog shop The Mustard Incident says: "Tangs Orchard was chosen as our flagship shop because the basement one level was known for its popular food and beverage corner.
"With their renewed commitment to bring a vibrant and diverse 'foodie marketplace' into Tangs Orchard, we believe it will be bustling with diners young and old."
313@Somerset recently completed the revamp of its basement levels last month to house new eateries including Thai steamboat outlet MK Restaurants, Japanese restaurants Yayoiken and Sushi Express, as well as coffee and toast shop Coffee Kaki.
Coffee chain Costa Coffee is also slated to open on the mall's first floor late next month.
In addition, the mall has added more seating space to the basement food hall and jazzed up the design with neon lights to "reflect the bustling vibe of downtown Tokyo and Hong Kong", says a mall spokesman.
Another mall to watch is Orchard Gateway, which is under construction and is slated to open next year.
So far, outlets opening there include Italian-Peruvian restaurant Supply & Demand, as well as lifestyle store Crate & Barrel.
Looking forward to the boom of new eats is retail executive Edna Lim, 29, who works in the shopping belt. She says: "My colleagues and I will have more cuisine options to choose from. Sometimes I pack my own lunch because I'm tired of eating the same thing.
"Probably the malls are feeling the pressure from the hip eateries that are opening in other parts of Singapore. I hope that there will be more pocket-friendly restaurants too, because it can be expensive to eat out every day in town."
Gyoza Ya and Sushi Goshin
Where: The Heeren, Basement 1 (in Robinsons)
Opens: By second quarter of next year
What: The Akashi Group's chef-owner Mervin Goh, 40, will open two casual eateries at The Heeren - Gyoza Ya, which specialises in Japanese dumplings, and sushi shop Sushi Goshin.
This adds to a string of openings, which includes the debut of Sushi Goshin at the newly revamped Suntec City. At the restaurant, diners order sushi via iPads.
Mr Goh likens Gyoza Ya to a "Japanese version of Din Tai Fung", where the gyoza is the star item. The menu will also feature a new type of dry ramen called ja ja men, which he tried in Tokyo.
He says: "The noodles are springy and served with a special miso and minced pork sauce with cucumber garnish. After you finish your noodles, the water used to cook the noodles is then poured into the bowl, an egg is cracked in it and you drink the soup.
"The ramen scene here is too crowded, so I think this will work well here."
Prices for Gyoza Ya are likely to be about $15 a person for a set meal, while the noodles will not cost more than $8 a bowl.
Arossa Wine & Grill
Where: Scotts Square, 6 Scotts Road, 02-01
Open: 11.30am to 10.30pm daily
Info: Call 6636-2951 or go to arossa.com.sg
What: The latest addition to Scotts Square, this 2,100 sq ft restaurant is headed by Japanese chef Chiaki Watanabe. It specialises in grilled food and wine sourced from Australia and New Zealand, as well as fresh seafood.
On the a la carte menu, appetisers include freshly shucked oysters with lemon or champagne vinegar (from $38 for six), mussels steamed in white wine (from $14 for 300g), fresh fish carpaccio of the day ($24) and pan-seared Hokkaido scallop with oyster mushroom and broccoli ($24).
Grilled items include Australian 400-day grain fed F1 wagyu tenderloin ($72 for 150g), Australian lamb rack ($38 for 200g) and a seafood platter ($88).
The weekly lunch menu features a three-course pasta lunch ($25++) and prix-fixe lunch ($38++), while the dinner set menus start at $60++.
Just Like It
Where: Ion Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, B4-35; three other outlets at Resorts World Sentosa, Ang Mo Kio Hub and Tampines 1
Open: 10am to 10pm daily
What: Go mad scientist at this new ice-cream shop that uses liquid nitrogen as the freezing agent to solidify the puree used to create each dessert that is served in a metal bowl.
Its newest flavour and bestseller is Durian Durian, while the red wine flavour is exclusive to the Ion Orchard outlet.
Prices start at $6.90 for a regular serving.
Founded in Australia, the brand is also available in Malaysia, Indonesia, Macau and Taiwan.
Supply & Demand
Where: Orchard Gateway
What: This Italian-Peruvian restaurant, which has Singapore owners, is set to debut its first outlet this month at the Esplanade Mall (01-13), and its second at the new Orchard Gateway mall.
The five owners include chefs who trained at culinary school At-Sunrice and worked at Italian restaurants. One of them spent six months in Peru and is looking to recreate its cuisine here.
The menu will feature Peruvian classics and salads. There will also be Italian food such as pastas, risottos and a variety of seafood.
"Like" its Facebook page for a chance to attend its first kitchen tasting with the chefs in a monthly Chef's Table session.
The Mustard Incident
Where: Tangs Orchard, Basement 1, 310 Orchard Road
Opens: By November this year
What: This new hot dog joint will serve gourmet hot dogs priced between $8 and $10, made with fresh produce sourced locally.
Think classics such as The Coney Dog and Chicago Dog, as well as four speciality flavours such as the Frankenstein, which has two types of sausages held together with a piece of streaky bacon; and Duck Can Fit, a duck sausage which plays on the popular duck confit dish.
Come Christmas, the local partners of the home-grown brand - one of whom previously ran another now-defunct hot dog joint Purple Mustard - also intends to roll out The Rudolf, which will have turkey sausage, honey baked ham and a cranberry dressing.
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