Led by the new Orchard Gateway mall, the Somerset stretch of Orchard Road has seen the opening of new food and beverage brands. The malls - Orchard Gateway, 313@Somerset and Orchard Central - are seamlessly connected to the Somerset MRT station and could become the new dining hot spots in town.
New-to-market brands include Australian franchise Spanish Doughnuts, selling gourmet churros, and Milagro Spanish Restaurant at Orchard Central; dessert concepts Dulce & Sucre and Criollo Cocoa at Orchard Gateway; as well as ramen joint Chabuton at 313@Somerset.
Those bringing in the new brands are looking to lure crowds of shoppers and gain wider exposure.
Mr Kester Zhang, 31, managing director of Soon Teck Foods, which is the master franchisor of churros outlet Spanish Doughnuts, opened the Australia brand's first cafe at Orchard Central. Its other overseas outlets operate from kiosks.
He says: "Unlike many big brands, we're not so well-known and people will not recognise our name immediately. Opening in Orchard Road, which has lots of tourists and locals, will help us gain exposure.
"We also opened the cafe as we noticed that people like to chill out after work."
The cafe specialises in gourmet churros that are made only when ordered and it also has premium churros which are glazed and have fillings. Mr Zhang is looking to introduce savoury churros that come with nacho cheese, tartare sauce and Mexican salsa dips. Milagro Spanish Restaurant opened two months ago.
Even though the 64-seat restaurant is tucked away in a corner on the eighth storey of Orchard Central, owner Raymond Chong, 27, says: "I like the view and even though it's slightly off Orchard Road, the mall is still accessible and a convenient location for people who do not drive. I've seen many repeat customers already."
The TungLok Group is also introducing a new noodle restaurant called Noodle Stories at Orchard Central, as well as a second TungLok XiHe Peking Duck outlet.
On curating the food and beverage tenant mix at Orchard Central, Ms Mavis Seow, chief operating officer of Far East Organisation's retail business group, says: "These new-to-market concepts work as a strong point of differentiation for mall owners and operators when it comes to retail offerings along Orchard Road.
"In contrast to massmarket brands, these concepts reinforce Orchard Central's positioning to feature a critical mass of unique retail offerings."
Over at Orchard Gateway, modern Italian trattoria Supply & Demand opened its second outlet two weeks ago.
To cater to Orchard Road diners, owner Samdy Kan, 31, offers more tea and brunch options, on top of Italian dishes with South-east Asian influences.
His first outlet at Esplanade Mall, which has a rooftop bar, caters more to the drinking crowd and theatre-goers.
He says: "I think Orchard Road doesn't have the same lure as it did five years ago as many diners now head to areas such as Dempsey, Duxton and Keong Saik as there are many hip restaurants there.
"We hope to cater to that niche group and bring them back to Orchard Road."
He chose central locations as he recalls the hassle of travelling from one part of Singapore to another, when he was previously a food consultant with the Ministry Of Food restaurant group.
He is looking to open a modern Asian restaurant and bar with an alfresco section by the end of the year, preferably in the town area as well.
Other new food offerings include Criollo Cocoa cafe and Korean restaurant Dae Ssik Sin at Orchard Gateway; and popular ramen joint Saboten at 313@Somerset.
Ms Cheryl Goh, 313@Somerset's general manager, says: "We constantly seek out new F&B concepts that will appeal to our shoppers and enhance the variety within the mall, such as with Hai Di Lao and Saboten."
The mall has an app called Tring 313, which markets exclusive offers from the mall's retailers using location-based technology. Ms Goh adds that it is a popular platform for F&B tenants to push dining promotions to shoppers.
App users will get alerts when they are in the mall's vicinity.
Other malls in the area include TripleOne Somerset, across the road from 313@Somerset, and The Centrepoint, which is linked to Orchard Central via an underpass.
TripleOne Somerset's latest restaurant opening is Seasons Bistro, with a menu inspired by the cuisines of the Americas.
Mr Thomas Leclercq, managing partner at Belgasia Singapore, which is the holding company for Seasons Bistro, says: "I think there is a lack of good and interesting dining options in Orchard Road.
"Most are part of big chains and may not offer the same unique experience that we aim to provide. We wanted a location that has enough visibility and a healthy lunch crowd. There are many offices located near us and that keeps us very busy during lunch hours." Mr Derrick Hung, senior manager of business solutions at Chesterton Singapore, notes that rents in the Somerset area malls are "typically about 30 per cent lower than that in prime space at Ion Orchard".
He says: "New entrants to the Singapore market would typically seek shop space in Orchard Road prior to foraying into the suburban malls. This is because Orchard Road is deemed to have a wider catchment catering to both tourists and Singaporeans.
"To survive in Orchard Road, the business owner will need to ensure that the top rental paid for a higher-traffic shopfront is translated into higher sales receipts. The business owners must keep their offerings interesting to cater to the everchanging tastebuds of consumers.
"Food outlets must capitalise on the higher footfall to generate more sales, instead of having a few caffeine drinkers nursing a cuppa for a few hours."
Diners are welcoming the new entrants to Orchard Road.
Undergraduate Pamela Lim, 23, says: "As I don't drive, Orchard Road is more accessible than a lot of the hipster cafes in far-flung places. It would be great if more of them could open in the town area."
Florist Genevieve Lim, 35, says: "I don't frequent Orchard Road as often as before because it's mostly the same brands and many of the popular restaurants are always crowded. Plus many of the suburban malls have good options too.
"But with these new outlets in Orchard Road, I don't mind checking them out, especially the Spanish Doughnuts cafe."
Where: 277 Orchard Road
Supply & Demand (02-13/14)
What: While its first outlet at the Esplanade Mall caters to the drinking crowd and theatregoers, Supply & Demand's offshoot at Orchard Gateway is geared towards hungry shoppers.
The restaurant's menu features a range of Italian dishes with South-east Asian influences.
These include spicy pork with Thai basil pasta ($19); Malaysian spicy otak-otak fingers ($10), deep-fried otah served with tomato relish; and pandan panna cotta ($12) served with salted caramel and fruit.
Brunch items include steak and eggs ($25) and Tartine Salumi ($14) with homemade pumpkin batard topped with cheddar, mozarella, tomato relish, beef pepperoni, spicy pork salami and parma ham.
The restaurant features a selection of teas ($9.90 a pot), with flavours such as Peach Brulee and Chocolate Rose black teas, as well as Tangerine Rosemary and White Ginger Pear white teas.
Its Esplanade Mall outlet, which has a rooftop bar, features cocktails instead.
In conjunction with its opening, get 50 per cent off your second main course at the Orchard Gateway outlet this month.
Open: 11.30am to 10.30pm daily, 11.30am to 5pm (weekend brunch menu)
Info: Call 6702-6218 or go to www.facebook.com/supplydemandsin
Dulce & Sucre (B1-01)
What: Going beyond their Twelve Cupcakes brand, celebrity couple Daniel Ong and Jaime Teo's latest brand is dessert parlour Dulce & Sucre.
The cafe, which also sells their popular cupcakes, serves a range of sweet treats such as whoopie pies ($3.50 each) with flavours including salted caramel banana, Rocky Road and chocolate strawberry cheesecake. There are also mini dessert cake loaves ($5.60 each) such as caramel pecan and banana walnut; and cookies ($5.20 a packet), with cinnamon pecan, earl grey and rose flavours.
Open: 10am to 10pm daily
Glacier Yogurt Cafe (B2-09)
What: Head to Glacier Yogurt Cafe for your yogurt fix, which is priced at $3.30 for 100g and from 70 cents for one topping. Waffles are available (from $3.50) and you can add a yogurt scoop of your choice. The cafe also serves coffee, tea, chocolate drinks and smoothies.
Open: 10am to 10.30pm daily
Info: Call 6702-6123 or go to www.facebook.com/glacieryogurt
Noodle Place Restaurant (01-17)
What: Famous for its noodle dishes, especially its wonton noodles (from $8, right), Prima Group's Noodle Place Restaurant has moved from The Centrepoint to Orchard Gateway.
It is located on the ground floor in between Orchard Gateway and 313@Somserset. Besides its signature items, new dishes include garoupa belly with capsicum in black bean sauce ($16); deep-fried pork chops with salt and pepper ($14); pork ribs hor fun in black bean sauce ($12) and Hokkien fried rice ($14).
Open: 10am to 10pm daily
Info: Call 6733-3171
Where: 313 Orchard Road
Tsujiri Tea House (B3)
What: The Japanese tea house features matcha in all its glory. Highlights include the O-maccha milk ice blended ($5.50 or $6.50), yuzu citron ice blended ($6.80) and red bean ice blended ($5 or $6). Desserts include a moist O-maccha roll cake ($4.80), Tsujiri parfait ($7.50) with creamy soft-serve green-tea ice cream, cornflakes and red beans, and Tsujiri Shaved Ice ($7.80).
Open:11.30am to 10pm daily
What: Expect more ramen coming your way with the first Chabuton ramen outlet opening next month at 313@Somerset. Its signature ramen features a rich and creamy pork bone soup topped with roast pork and Japanese leek. Other soup bases include shio (salt) and miso.
What: Tonkatsu chain Saboten opens next month at 313@Somerset. The Japanese restaurant chain, which recently closed one outlet at Parco in Millenia Walk, also has a branch at IMM mall in Jurong East.
Hai Di Lao (Level 4)
What: The popular Sichuan steamboat restaurant from Clarke Quay will open its second outlet by the end of this month. Soup bases include spicy Sichuan, tomato soup and mushroom soup, as well as a variety of hotpot ingredients such as thinly sliced beef (below) and lamb.
Average spending a person is about $30 to $60.
What: Frozen yogurt outlet Llaollao (say yowyow), which originated in Spain, has opened at 313@Somerset's basement food section. Prices start at $4.90 for yogurt with one topping. Other yogurt treats include Sanum ($6.90), which is a yogurt dessert layered with fresh fruit, honey and muesli, and smoothies topped with frozen yogurt ($6.90).
Open: 10am to 11pm daily
Info: Go to www.facebook.com/llaollaoSingapore
Where: 181 Orchard Road
Spanish Doughnuts (05-51/52)
What: Australian franchise Spanish Doughnuts is taking churros, the fried dough dessert, to a new level. The premium ones ($4.30 each, $12 for three, $21.60 for six) are not only filled but also glazed, and some even have toppings, just like a fancy doughnut.
Flavours include Salted Caramel Brulee, with a caramel filling and caramelised sugar; Creme Brulee, with a custard filling and caramelised sugar; Cookies & Cream, with a caramel filling, coated in milk chocolate and topped with cookie crumbs; and Hazelnut Dream, with a hazelnut filling, milk chocolate coating and topped with chopped hazelnuts.
If you prefer plain churros, get the made-to-order Choco Churritos ($9.90), which comes with white, milk and dark chocolate dips. This is the brand's first cafe. Its other outlets in Australia, South Korea and China only operate from kiosks.
Open: 11am to 10pm daily, while stocks last
Milagro Spanish Restaurant (08-06/07)
What: Spanish cuisine may be making waves in the dining scene here, but Milagro's owner Raymond Chong, 27, is looking to introduce a more affordable menu for diners who want to try a variety of dishes from different Spanish regions.
Menu highlights include gazpacho Andaluz ($6); padron peppers ($11); a variety of cheese and cold cuts (from $7); octopus a la Gallega ($17), which is Galician boiled octopus drizzled with olive oil, paprika and sea salt; and paella de marisco ($59, right), with a medley of seafood including soft-shell crab, squid, mussels and prawns.
Lunch specials include creamy jamon pasta ($10); pisto manchego ($9), which is a Spanish interpretation of ratatouille; and Black Angus ribeye ($19), with sauteed peppers, mini truffle patatas and sundried cherry tomatoes.
There is no service charge or GST.
Open: Noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 10pm daily
Info: Call 6238-6248 or go to www.facebook. com/milagro.spanish
What: After its recent closure at Parco in Millenia Walk, popular ramen joint Nantsuttei has found its new home at Orchard Central. Fans of the ramen joint can look forward to its rich and creamy tonkotsu soup with tender chashu.
Open: Next Sunday
TungLok XiHe Peking Duck (07-07/08/09)
What: The second outlet of the TungLok Group's restaurant specialising in Peking Duck that is sliced at the table and served in three ways - wafer-thin slices of skin, thinly sliced meat from the legs and thighs, and larger pieces of sliced breast meat.
A whole duck costs $78. Set menus start from $188++ for two people.
Open: 11.30am to 3pm, 6 to 10.30pm daily
Info: Call 6736-0006
Noodle Stories (07-14/15)
What: The TungLok Group's new noodle concept specialises in northern Chinese cuisine featuring a variety of noodle dishes such as biang biang noodles, dumplings and soup. Average spending a person is $15.
Open: 11.30am to 10.30pm (Monday to Saturday), 10.30am to 10.30pm (Sunday)
Info: Call 6509-1878
This article was first published on June 8, 2014.
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