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Jul 28, 2009 01:46 AM

Singapore - Any good food at Ion Orchard?

Finally that huge new mall, Ion Orchard, is open and looked fabulous from the outside. I read somewhere that it's got 80 food outlets in there but I don't know where to start. Anyone has any idea what's good?

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  1. waiting for xex to open, the food court - scotts beef noodles( juz there to eat the cartilage and stuff, i still like pho)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lucil

      Do u mean the beef noodle at the food court from the demolished Scotts Shopping Centre move to Ion? What is the name of the stall? In the food court?

    2. Very crowded now, layout is not that good, walk path is narrow, food court seem messy. I have not tried anything there...

      1. I'm just back from the US over the weekend, so no chance to try ION Orchard restaurants yet. But these 2 restaurants should be okay, as they are branches of well-established restaurants:

        1. Taste Paradise on 4th floor of ION Orchard - original outlet in Mosque St Chinatown has great modern-Cantonese food, and perhaps the most superb fried carrot cake in Singapore (elevated from street food standards) by the very talented chef there - hope he's now in the new ION outlet;

        2. Canton-i on 3rd floor of ION Orchard - this is the latest outlet from a very popular Hong Kong-Malaysian restaurant chain. They have at least a dozen outlets in KL & Penang under the Dragon-i (Shanghainese cuisine) and Canton-i (Cantonese cuisine) branding, but this must be their first Singapore outlet. If their Malaysian outlets are anything to go by, the Cantonese food there should be very good.

        I heard from foodie friends that the B4 food court has some gems to be discovered, e.g.
        - Arinco King, bakery from Japan offering supermoist, soft Swiss rolls filled with fresh creme. They come in 3 flavors: Salty Caramel, Matcha green tea and Vanilla. Don't miss the salty caramel one;

        - Ginza Bairin (Est. 1927) tonkatsu place. Their katsudon can rival Tonkichi's at Shaw House;

        - R Burger - steamed mantou, with fresh beef patty, avocado & cheese. Interesting, though service is a bit slow: teething problems at new outlet.

        Cassis at the Grand Hyatt
        3300 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta, GA 30305

        22 Replies
        1. re: klyeoh

          Thank you very much for the dining tips. I was at ION this morning, just before the crowds packed in at lunch. Yes, the beef noodles were from Scotts Picnic - I was never a big fan of theirs, my favourite beef noodles are from Taiwan.

          3rd Generation laksa was not too bad, but not too good either. Like all other food court stalls, all the food are pre-cooked way before and then re-heated upon order. The hard-boiled egg & sliced fishcake tasted cold still. Yucks! The laksa soup was too milky-rich, and much too salty!

          There was a long queue for Gindaco takoyaki (octopus-filled balls topped with mayo & some Japanese barbecue sauce0. One of my girlfriends joined the queue and bought some. Frankly, we all ended up wondering what all the big fuss was about - the takoyaki were not any different from those one would find anywhere else. We attribute the long queues to simple Singaporean "kiasuism", ie what others have, I also must have!

          The Taiyaki stall next to Gindaco was a bit more interesting: instead of red bean/anpan filling, they offer innovative savoury ones - we tried a German-potato taiyaki and a ham-and-egg taiyaki. Both were quite good, but would have been tastier if they'd been freshly made.

          Another extremely popular stall was Modern Peking Duck. Yet another of my girlfriends (mahjong friend!) queued for it. The Peking duck, pre-wrapped in egg crepe, was not very good at all. We didn't try any part of the "Big Pig", a large whole-roasted hog-beast which took centrestage at the stall.

          All in all, the ION food experience was pretty "meh". In fact, the only saving grace was Arinco King (thanks, KLyeoh!), the cakes there, sold by a beautiful Japanese couple who looked more like elegant socialites than serious bakers were absolutely delicious!! The cakes were just so very moist. We shared 2 pieces of choc sand cake and 2 pieces of caramel sand cakes (amongst 6 of us) and they were singularly the best-tasting items we had there all morning. We also bought a Swiss roll (Salty Caramel flavour) for S$18 to try and it was utterly delicious. So we ended up buying one roll each to bring home for our husbands & children :)

          1. re: M_Gomez

            By the way, It looks like the Salty Caramel roll by Arinco King is now the hottest thing in Singapore! I couldn't get any the last 3 times I was there, it was perpetually sold out, and we now have to book ahead?!!!! Looks like its fame spread by word of mouth faster than a Greek bush fire.

            1. re: M_Gomez

              It's so VERY Singaporean: to flock en masse to the flavor of the day. Remember that donut place in Raffles City with its perpetual 2-3 hour queues a couple of years back? Now, no one's interested anymore!

              Arinco King, on the other hand, is experiencing this mad rush of new fans. Sigh!

              1. re: klyeoh

                ha yes i remember that donut place ... last week i was looking for it to see the line and i didn't see one. i think they expanded.
                currently also there's a japanese restaurant in the 2nd floor from the bottom to burger king ... i see a line everyday there about 20 people deep. i looked at the menu and it didn't look inspiring.

                1. re: klyeoh

                  Arinco King at ION closed shop last week!! Apparently, high rentals at ION was a killer, besides the fact that Arinco's parent bakery in Tokyo just opened 3 new outlets back in Japan, and their production lines couldn't cope with the new demand.

            2. re: klyeoh

              Update on Canton-i: I had dinner there this evening & the food was pretty disappointing:

              - their signature HK-style wanton noodles was a big let-down: the soup was extremely bland & tepid. The noodles were quite springy, and the prawn wantons juicy & fresh. But still, a bland soup stock is a real travesty to this iconic HK dish!
              - stewed beef tendons & beef shank with squash fared much better. Tasty but not exceptional. The portion was real generous though;
              - the stir-fried lotus root, lily buds, black fungus, carrots, celery & macadamia was simply the WORST rendition of the dish I've ever had in Singapore! This was supposedly my favorite Chinese vegetable dish - but I absolutely hated it at Canton-i: undercooked, undersauced, simply indescribably bad!

              The menu lists dim sum items but neglect to say that these are available only for lunch. Service is very polite, polished & faultless. But the cooks - oh, the cooks, they really need to get their act together - fast!

              1. re: klyeoh

                Oh, oh, we're booked for lunch there tomorrow. Anyway, we'll stick to dim sum & see how it goes.

                1. re: M_Gomez

                  Dim sum in Canton-i is quite good - large shrimps, very fresh.
                  Wanton noodles is very bad!
                  Stewed beef & tendon is best dish by far - soft & full of flavour.
                  Stir-fried XO carrot cake with beansprouts is also very good - fragrant & tasty.
                  Stir-fried kai lan vegetables and fish is awful. The chefs are not very good in stirfrying.
                  Durian wrapped in crepes is okay, not outstanding.

                  Don't think I'll be going back tho.

                  1. re: M_Gomez

                    Guess what, I take back what I said, I ended up going back to Canton-i. It's just that my sister & nieces & a family friend from Macau are in town and they only wanted dim sum for lunch! These people, they didn't even want to touch laksa or any "exotic" stuff - huh?

                    Surprisingly, my sis & party think Canton-I's har gow and siew mai were, in their words mind you, "better than Crystal Jade Palace's". Not sure if I agree with their tastes. Maybe I'd been in Singapore too long, maybe I'm used to Singapore tastes. But I must admit the har gow in Canton-i was very generous though - two fresh extra-large shrimps in each har gow - like those you get in Sydney's Marigold or East Ocean restaurants.

                2. re: klyeoh

                  Update on ION Orchard eating places:

                  THE Good:
                  - Lau Dai Hwa minced pork noodles (mee pok) at B4 food court: this is one of the best renditions of the dish in Singapore. Just the right balance of chilli sauce, vinegar, soy, pork broth. Yummy!
                  - Rempah ayam from SG Kueh: Nyonya-style blue-tinged glutinous rice filled with coconutty minced spiced chicken, wrapped in banana leaves & grilled - absolutely fabulous!!
                  - Stir-fried Hakka abacus beads from Mei Zhen stall: the taste grows on you. By the time I'm halfway thru the dish, I was hooked!

                  THE Not-so-good:
                  - Freddie's Burger: the "Perth" & the "Victoria" burgers were pretty average. Something your 5-year-old can whip up at home. Freddie purportedly offers "Aussie-style" burgers. I'm not sure if slapping a slice of pineapple on top of your burger meat patties make them any more "Aussie". If they'd used beetroot slices, maybe they'd be "warmer"?
                  - The Japanese Patiscream No. 2 Mont Blanc dessert from the Creamery stall. Typical Japanese dessert: light, airy but neither fresh creamy-rich nor strongly-flavored enough, as compared to Italian/French-style dessert places.

                  1. re: klyeoh

                    The rempah ayam was divine!!

                    BTW, Luk Yu dim sum stall's Gou Bu Li fried buns were nice - light & fresh.

                    I tried Sergeant's Scissors Cut Curry Rice. It's very good, too!

                    I am beginning to have my shortlist of places to eat in ION Orchard, and places to avoid. Thanks for all your feedback!

                    1. re: M_Gomez

                      This is of course very personal - also, I did not try the Gou Bu Li fried buns - but my experience with Luk Yu was not good.
                      Another reason to read my comments with a grain of salt is that I just traveled to Guangzhou and had dim sum in Tao Tao Ju. I know it's not entirely fair to put Luk Yu against a famed restaurant of that caliber but I couldn't resist ...
                      My recently "snob-ized" attitude first noticed that they did not start my whole dining process with the "what tea" question. And then, there was no condiment on the table. I asked for chili sauce (said "la jiao" in Chinese) and they gave me sweet chili sauce. Strike two. Shark fin soup dumpling came without a small dish of vinegar. strike three ... :-) And then I tried the dumplings, it actually tasted good but it's not the right taste. It didn't have the "hai mei" taste. So I didn't bother to ask for the vinegar.
                      For a stall in the food court, I think having the dim sum option was already a blessing so I can't really be too harsh.
                      Tried Lau Tai Hua Bak Chor mee in the same food court and it was OK. I was not sure why the stall had visibly fewer people.

                      1. re: tt1688

                        I just realized that this Luk Yu is the branch of Hong Kong's Luk Yu - then I wasn't harsh at all It should be compared at the same level of Tao Tao Ju, even it's only a branch. I doubt if they are keeping it up with the headquarter! As someone who's never been to the original Luk Yu, this food court stall would not serve as the best motivator for me to try.

                        1. re: tt1688

                          Frankly, my dear, I don' think ION's Luk Yu is actually related to HK's at all! The stall is too "bleah" to claim any relationship to the legendary HK dim sum landmark. Besides, "Luk Yu" is the name of a Tang dynasty poet who wrote about tea, so it's really quite generic.

                          In Kuala Lumpur's upscale Starhill Gallery mall, I believe Luk Yu HK has a legitimate branch - it's well-advertised as an offshoot of the HK parent outlet, and is a gorgeous set-up.

                          1. re: M_Gomez

                            Oh really? I learned about this Singaporean 'Luk Yu' through a Japanese website, where they described it as a Singaporean branch of Hong Kong Luk Yu. Perhaps they were wrong?

                            Anyway, thanks for your info., M_Gomez.

                            1. re: kosmose7

                              I wish it was true, my dear. I love Luk Yu in HK very much. But the ION Singapore was just too pedestrian! Impossible to be associated in any way to Luk Yu HK, unless the S'pore owner was a long-time admirer.

                              1. re: M_Gomez

                                I see. :) But honestly, I am not a big fan of HK Luk Yu, except its ambience. I much prefer Dim Sum in Happy Valley.

                                1. re: kosmose7

                                  "pedestrian"? Man you are bad... :-)
                                  To me it'd be odd if the two were really related. There are just about 300+ Yung Kee around the world so I would not be too surprised the owner at ION was simply borrowing the name.
                                  Ambiance in Luk Yu IS great, which probably make it harder to believe that their "branch" would serve Shark fin soup dumpling without vinegar (yeah, I still can't get over that).

                      2. re: M_Gomez

                        Oh dear, I think SG Kueh must be the first outlet in ION's food court to actually close down!! I was down there yesterday & the spot was vacant!!!

                        1. re: M_Gomez

                          Update: SG Kueh which sold those delicious rempah ayam had closed down. So, too, Freddie's Burger.
                          So, the glitzy ION mall's food court is turning out to be a graveyard for many a food stall, seeing that Arinco King, Tokyo Crepe & the Potato Croquette stalls had also closed shop!

                          1. re: klyeoh

                            Shocked to find that marvellous Taiyaki shop (next to Gindaco) had also closed down when I was there last weekend! Their crisp, fresh taiyaki were the best I'd tried anywhere in town, and I particularly liked their German potato-cheese-ham and chocolate-banana ones.

                            The only place I still liked in ION's basement/"graveyard-to-eateries" are Noo's Thai and Bonchon (Korean-by-way-of-New York) fried chicken wings place. Oh, and also Ginza Bairin for their crisp tonkatsu. If these eateries should also go bust, I'm NOT going back to ION again ever!

                            P.S. - Noo's Gai Pad Gaprow - a popular/common Thai lunch plate of stir-fried minced chicken with basil/onions/chillis/fish sauce & a sunny-side-up egg is correctly done & absolutely yummy. I liked the fact that they fry the egg only after you placed your order - a rarity in Singapore food stalls, sadly. Oh, and I also really liked their green curry, studded with pea-eggplant (ma kheu phuong) and sweet, tender pumpkin cubes.

                    2. re: klyeoh

                      I tried Taste Paradise last night. It was so difficult getting a table there. I liked the sharksfin soup in stonepot. The long, thin spring roll filled with chives(?) to dip into the sharksfin seem more like a novelty than adding a dimension.

                      Also had a strange combination trio which had a laksa-infused prawn on watermelon (spicy, good!), mini-kurobuta burger (very small) and cheesy-bacon (eww! Gross!).

                      The chilled whole tomato covered with sweet-mustard sauce is interesting, I must try to make it at home one day.
                      Pan-fried carrot cake with XO sauce, which I loved in Taste Paradise outlet in Chinatown, seem not so good here in ION. Too bad.
                      Not sure if I'll come back - at least $100 per person means I;m paying as much in Taste Paradise for up-graded cze-char! I'm put ting up some photos here to share - sorry, I;m a bad photgrapher.

                    3. Tried 2 recently-opened outlets in ION:

                      1. Marmalade Pantry, which moved here (and closed its Palais Renaissance outlet). The food & service standards, unfortunately, seemed to have taken a steep dive in the move. What happened?!!

                      2. Nautilus Project (by the same folks behind Prime Society, Dempsey Hill). Ultra-cool decor & spectacular views from ION out to the Orchard/Scotts Road intersection. Service is pretty shakey - they had precisely TWO good waiters - the other wait-staff were nervous & inexperienced: imagine, a waiter walked past our table, looking at our empty plates with cutleries placed together at 5 o-clock position indicating we're finished - and he simply turned & walked away like he's seen nothing to chat with another waiter at the oyster bar!

                      Food is EXPENSIVE: S$38 (make that S$44.46 after compulsory service charge/taxes) for a bowl of seafood soup (crab, salmon, mussels, pipis, prawns in bland tomato-based "Mediterranean" broth)!! Tastewise: Okay, but not outstanding. Is it worth the price? NO!!
                      I think Nautilus has great potential (great location - centre of Orchard Road!) - but they really need to tweak their prices and up their service. Photos of Nautilus:

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: klyeoh

                        marmalade pantry has one of the most uninspiring menus in singapore.

                        freddie's burger is a fast food joint .... but yes i agree average at best.....
                        (berg's is a half decent burger at far east plaza)

                        R burger is disgusting.

                        and yes every place there is mad over priced. i know the apartments i think are selling for $4,000 sq ft.

                        1. re: Hot Chocolate

                          You were absolutely right, Hot Chocolate - Marmalade Pantry was simply a big disappointment. After all the hoopla about it being a spot for people-watching, it's got really awful food. Not going back again. And the famous cupcakes aren't that good either.

                        2. re: klyeoh

                          Walked past this location last Saturday - Nautilus Project's closed! Its spot will be taken over by Imperial Treasure Steamboat. Seems like ION Orchard, with its high-rent & low pedestrian traffic, is fast turning out to be a graveyard for eateries there!

                        3. ginza bairan was tasty but i don't think it's one of those places i'll crave to back to.

                          there's a tonkatsu place at the food hall in b2 of ngee ann / taka ...their sandwich is delicious.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Hot Chocolate

                            You hit the nail right on the head, HC! I thought the same about Ginza Bairin, too - nice, but I won't make a trip back there just for it.
                            Oh, that tonkatsu place in Taka B2 is Romankan Yokohama - my sons & daughter who seem to regard themselves to be some Japan food experts of sorts all thought Romankan has the best tonkatsu in town, and I find their sandwich is (like you said) absolutely gorgeous!