Move aside, Daiso. The stampede of Singapore customers has moved from the famous $2 discount store to a new retailer in town-Don Quijote, better known as Don Don Donki.
Ever since the Japanese retailer opened its first discount store at Orchard Central late last year, Singaporeans have been buying up the entire shop, while enduring the earworm that is their theme song.
It's gotten so bad that half of their items are now sold out. If you're after any of the following products, you'll have to wait till they replenish their stock.
CALPIS MELON FLAVOUR 470ML BOTTLE
Calpis is one of Japan's most popular, yet most elusive (in Singapore, anyway) drinks, usually only available at authentic Japanese restaurants and shops. While the popular diet version has recently been restocked, if you're looking for something other than regular Calpis, you'll have to wait for them to restock Calpis melon flavor.
Where else to buy it: Redmart carries Calpis Concentrated Grape Flavor-not quite the same thing, AND more expensive at a whopping $7.50 for 470ml.
HIKARI MISO 750G
Miso soup is an essential part of most Japanese home-cooked meals. And judging by the fact that virtually all the miso products at Don Don Donki, including their Hikari miso paste, are sold out, it looks like Singaporeans are eager to follow suit.
Where else to buy it: NTUC FairPrice carries Hikari organic miso paste at $5.95 for 500g. The packaging may look different, but it is indeed from the same brand.
NISSIN INSTANT TSUKEMEN NOODLES (SEAFOOD AND SOY SAUCE) 103G X 5 PACK
The Singapore economy's secret ingredient is instant noodles, without which half the nation would starve. So of course Nissin's instant ramen noodles have been a hit, with their hard-to-find tsukemen seafood and soy sauce flavour selling out.
Where else to buy: You can find Nissin ramen noodles at most supermarkets like FairPrice and Giant. But if you want the rare flavours usually available only in Japan, your best bet would be a Japanese supermarket like Meidi-Ya.
LOTTE KOALA'S MARCH 50G
This ubiquitous snack is as common as Kit Kat, but it's flown off the shelves at Don Don Donki despite being priced similarly at other supermarkets. Go figure.
Where else to buy: You can these these koala-shaped, chocolate-filled tidbits anywhere, from ordinary supermarkets to online grocers like HonestBee (where you can buy 10x195g for just $5.60).
BIHADA SNAIL FACE MASK (50 SHEETS)
This beauty product might sound bizarre, but it's actually just a peel-off moisturising face mask. Despite the fact that the words on the packaging are incomprehensible to most Singaporeans, this product has sold out, indicating Singaporeans' trust in the quality of Japanese beauty products.
Where else to buy: While you might not be able to find the same brand elsewhere, you can buy similar face masks at Korean skincare shops like Innisfree and Etude House. For brandless Japanese masks, head to good old Daiso.
ITO-EN GREEN TEA BAGS 2G X 20 BAGS (40G)
While green tea is available at just about every supermarket in Singapore, the Japanese-only text on Ito-en's packaging make it look that much more legit, which is why their green tea bags are sold out at the moment.
Where else to buy it: Turns out regular supermarkets also carry Ito-en green tea-just that they're more expensive in comparison. FairPrice sells Ito-En matcha green tea bags at $5.95 for 20 tea bags (30g).
HELLO KITTY FEVER COOLING GEL (6 PIECES)
Down with a fever? You can always call on Hello Kitty to bring down your temperature… or raise it, depending on how you see the mouthless cat. While these cutesy fever cooling gel packs have flown off the shelves, the Anpanman ones have not, even though they are way cheaper, at $5.90 for 16 sheets!
Where else to buy it: Just buy the Anpanman ones at Don Don Donki instead!
CARAMEL CORN ALMOND CARAMEL FLAVOUR
Caramel corn is every Daiso customer's favourite snack. But since Don Don Donki is selling them at 30 cents less, they keep selling out spectacularly. Fortunately, they're back in stock as of this writing, but the almond caramel flavored ones are still sold out.
Where else to buy it: Daiso, at 30 cents more.
SATO MOCHI (400G)
Mochi is yet another very distinctly Japanese snack that's flown off the shelves, and surely a more impressive tidbit to offer guests than Calbee potato chips.
Where else to buy it: Meidi-Ya sells the exact same item for $12.30.
JYONETSU KAKAKU DUST CLOTH (10 SHEETS)
With the annual haze, construction left right and centre and the air becoming heavy with incense during the hungry ghost festival, getting rid of dust is an ongoing battle in Singapore households. Which is probably why these micro-fibre dust cloths have been a hit.
Where else to buy it: You can find similar dust cloths at Daiso.