On earlier visits to Singapore I had breezed through ION Orchard as part of the Orchard Road experience. But something was missing. I was yet to experience the wonder that is Food Opera, the very upmarket hawker-style food court in the ION Orchard basement. Time to rectify that.
For those who haven’t been to Singapore, Orchard Road is THE premier district for shopping malls; mainly upmarket but with some budget-friendly, old school surprises lurking amongst the almost spage-age architectural statements.
ION Orchard is arguably the best of the best. 66,000 square metres in size, with 4 levels above ground and 4 levels below, ION offers over 300 retail, food & beverage and entertainment options.
The luxury brands are all there: Louis Vuitton, Dior, Prada, Miu Miu etc, as well as mid-range favourites like Topshop, Zara and Uniqlo. (Yes, I confess, i *may* have made some purchases here).
ION offers fine dining as well as food chain outlets, delis and confectioners, cafes and bars, mostly on the basement floors but also on the floors above.
It is the ION food hall on Basement level 4 that I gravitate towards, and the outlets here are outstanding. Old Chang Kee, Punggol Nasi Padang and the Wang San Yang Tea Pavilion nestle alongside Ginza Bairin and 4 Fingers Crispy Chicken!
Food Opera is the primary one, offering 22 stalls and 4 mini-restaurants in the hawker style. Aesthetically there is an immediately appealing sense of history and homeliness, as well as luxury and whimsy. Modern design trends, such as animal heads on the walls and large sculptures are everywhere, including animal sculptures such as deer, pigs, giraffe and even golden dragonflies and insects. Uber-glamorous chandeliers illuminate the space, throwing the beautiful gilt ceiling mouldings into sharp relief. Yep, you sure feel like you’re somewhere swanky!
But enough of me telling you about it; take a look for yourself:
Peacocks and stag/deer heads look down on Hainan Chicken Rice & BBQ Seafood outlets
A large golden dragonfly looks down from the Draft Beer stall; an ornate ceiling at Ah Wok restaurant makes looking up worthwhile
I tell you, I walked around for AAAGES trying to decide what to eat. As I am very fond of the flavours of Malay, Indonesian and Peranakan cuisine, it is no wonder that I finally decided upon Padang Padang for my lunchtime repast.
Padang Padang (so good they named it twice!)
Food Republic, which owns Food Opera, had this to say about Padang:
Padang cuisine is the traditional food of ‘Urang Minang’ (Minang people) who inhabit West Sumatera, Indonesia. The key to Padang cuisine’s rich flavour and mouth-watering aroma is the correct blend of spices. Padang Padang is owned by Mrs Wahyuningsilh and the recipes are inspired by her grandmother – a 3rd generation Peranakan in Indonesia. At Padang Padang, they are committed to using only natural ingredients and processing them traditionally to retain their original taste and health benefits.
Signature Dishes: Nasi Kuning Ayam Merah, Rendang Sapi (Beef Rendang), Ayam Goreng Bumbu (Padang Fried Chicken with Spices), Ikan Asam Pedras (Spicy & Sour Fish), Gado-Gado Padang (Padang Mixed Vegetables), Cabe Merah /Hijau Padang (Special Red/Green Padang Chilli)
Padang Padang was crowned one of the top 3 Hawker Kings at Food Republic.
As for me, I ordered the Nasi Kuning with Ayam Merah, which is yellow rice with chicken in a red gravy largely comprised of tomato, turmeric, garlic, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, chilli and soy. YUMMERS!!
The chicken was still still just a little crispy from having been fried first, and the sauce was extremely tasty without being burn-your-mouth-out hot. There was a beautiful balance of salty, sweet and chilli. I also could have chosen a multi-dish from their many meat and vegetable options (as you can see in the photo above). Next time I think I just might!
In need of some freshening up before I hit the street again, I encountered the splendour that is the ION Orchard ladies toilets! Honestly, how glamorous are these? And as I left the modern mall, I couldn’t help but laugh at these fantastic coloured sculptures of shoppers, seen at the front of ION Orchard:
So whether for the shopping or the food, ION Orchard is definitely worth perusing next time you’re in Singapore.
Have you already been? What are your fave shops or food outlets?
Food Opera @ ION Orchard
#B4-03/04 Ion Orchard
2 Orchard Turn
Tel: +65 6509 9118
10am to 10pm
8am to 10pm Monday – Thursday
8am to 11pm Friday, Saturday, Eve of Public Holidays
10am to 10pm Sunday