Thai Supermarket opens at Aperia Mall in Singapore in first week of June
After almost 40 years at Golden Mile Complex, Thai Supermarket will open at its new home, Aperia Mall in Kallang, in the first week of June.
Gone are the harsh lighting and provision-store vibe. In its place, a modern supermarket with new products and services.
The supermarket and many Thai restaurants and businesses had to move out of Singapore’s Little Thailand, Golden Mile Complex in Beach Road, following a successful $700 million collective sale in May 2022. The food businesses have scattered all over Singapore, and the supermarket is taking up a chunk of Aperia’s ground floor.
Mr Loh Yuen Seng, 59, who owns the supermarket with his brothers, says the relocation proved “way more complex than we imagined”, given that aside from the supermarket, there are also two stalls with kitchens, takeaway food kiosks and retail services.
He adds: “There are a lot of permits, restrictions and regulations when it comes to operating in a mall.”
Although a necessity, the move marks the next stage in the evolution of the business, which started in 1987.
Mr Loh was already doing business in Golden Mile Complex in 1985, selling trousers. The supermarket grew in size over the years.
At one point, the brothers even ran a cinema in the building, showing the latest Thai movies.
In 2020, when the pandemic hit and people were wary of being out and about, he took the supermarket online. Later, there was a mini facelift, with new chillers to display the Thai herbs and other products the store sells.
At Aperia, customers can shop for groceries in the 6,000 sq ft supermarket, and also eat in a separate 64-seat dining area.
Folks Collective, which runs a Thai restaurant at Cross Street Exchange, will operate two stalls. One will serve salads with marinated seafood, as well as grilled meat and seafood, curries and wok-fried dishes.
At lunchtime, customers can create their Thai lunch bowls, with choices for a rice or vegetable base, protein, toppings and sauces. Prices start at $9.
From late afternoon, the stand will also serve alcoholic drinks.
It will sell noodles from the other stall, including boat noodles and pad thai priced from $10.90; snacks such as prawn cakes, Isaan sausages and pork skewers; and Thai tea and herbal drinks.
There will also be four kiosks offering takeaway food, with three tenants confirmed.
Yung Yung, a bubble tea and bread brand with outlets in Bishan and Jurong, will sell its signature Thai-style Yaowarat Buns with fillings such as pandan kaya, Speculoos and melted chocolate, as well as new Thai-inspired flavours. It will also sell drinks such as milk tea and smoothies.
Customers will be able to get their fried banana fix at Talad Thai Banana, which will offer banana fritters, sweet potato balls and taro chips with prices starting at $3, and drinks.
There will also be two kiosks taken up by a nail and a hair salon.
Parked at the entrance of the supermarket is a tuk-tuk, an auto-rickshaw similar to the ones that ply the streets of Thailand. On the licence plate are the numbers 5001 – which, for Mr Loh, connects old and new. The street address for Golden Mile Complex, soon to be gone, is 5001 Beach Road.
Thai Supermarket opens at 01-20 Aperia Mall in the first week of June. Opening hours are 10 am to 10 pm daily.
The Straits Times went shopping at the new Thai Supermarket. Here are some good buys:
Sunturi noodle kits & sauces
This Thai brand bills itself as keto-friendly, but its products will appeal to anyone looking to cut down on sugar, whether following a ketogenic lifestyle or not.
Look at the ingredients on the label of most sauce or condiment bottles and you will see that sugar and all its variations are front and centre. Sauces in this range are sweetened with stevia and erythritol, and the range includes Thai cooking and dipping sauces such as suki, pad thai, and tom yum and seafood; and Asian offerings such as oyster, teriyaki, kimchi and mala sauces.
They are priced at $6.90 for a 150ml bottle. The taste of artificial sweeteners is dampened by spices and other flavourings.
The brand’s keto kits ($7.90 for a 256g box) make it easy to make pad thai, Thai boat and tom yum noodles. Each kit comes with a pouch of what it calls zero-carb noodles, made with soya protein and marine algae extract, and pouches of sauce and dried herbs.
Do they taste like they were made from scratch? No. But with almost zero effort, it is possible to make a filling meal with fewer than 500 calories, depending on the kind of protein and how much of it you add to the pot. A squeeze of fresh lime juice also makes a world of difference to all three noodle varieties.
Taltai palm and coconut sugar
Palm sugar is used in Thai cooking for sauces, marinades and salad dressings. Many brands include a percentage of white sugar in the mix, with some adding as much as 40 per cent white sugar.
Why bother seeking palm sugar for its flavour when almost half the taste comes from white sugar? Get the real deal.
This brand of palm and coconut sugar ($2.90 for a 250g tub) is unadulterated.
Lay’s Thailand potato chips
Japanese flavour engineers might rule supermarket snack aisles, but the ones in Thailand are fast catching up. Just look at the fantastical and precise flavours of potato chips put out by Lay’s Thailand.
The latest ones to hit the shelf at Thai Supermarket are Fried Chicken Wings & Sriracha Sauce Flavor, Boat Noodles Flavor and Stir Fried Shrimp With Chili And Garlic Flavor ($1.90 each).
Go for the shrimp-flavoured one, which packs a garlicky chilli punch and nails the flavour of shrimp heads. The Boat Noodles version is eerily convincing, right down to the sugary sweetness of the real thing.
Little Farm crispy bread
The supermarket has new flavours from this popular brand of bread chips, shaped like little slices of toast.
The Pizza and Black Pepper (both $3.50 a pack) flavours are generic and too sweet to be truly savoury. What makes my eyes pop is the spiciness of the Tom Yum ($3.50 a bag) version.
If spicy and tart are what you crave in a snack, this fits the bill perfectly.
Chua Hah Seng chilli paste spread
If peanut butter and jam are not your things for spreading on toast, try this chilli paste spread ($2.80 for a 150g tube). It tastes a little like nasi lemak chilli in a tube and the potential applications go way beyond spreading on toast.
Mix some with mayonnaise to spice up tuna filling for a sandwich, squeeze some over breakfast eggs, and instead of using a sugar-cinnamon filling for bread rolls, use this with a sprinkling of chicken floss to make savoury rolls.
Thaweephan rice cracker
These rice crackers ($4.90 for a 100g can), a traditional Thai snack, are phenomenally crisp. This is what keeps me reaching into the canister. The supermarket carries other flavours under the same brand, but the Tom Yum version is the best.
Lobo Thai curries & soups
My spirit is willing but the will is weak when it comes to making things like Thai green curry paste from scratch.
Sure, I will make the effort for tom yum soup or Thai meat marinades or dipping sauces because these are easy to throw together. But I would have to be very motivated to get the mortar and pestle out and wrestle with a shopping list the length of my arm.
I have always been a fan of Maepranom pastes and condiments, but there are other good quality brands, as I have discovered. Lobo’s Yellow Curry kit, I find, makes a delicious – and quick – meal.
The $9.50 box contains three packs of yellow curry paste for fried rice and noodles or for a curry made without coconut milk. The two packs of stir-fried curry sauce come in handy for cooking squid, prawns or crab. And the two packs of paste with coconut milk make cooking chicken curry very easy.
I like how the instructions say to “fry” the paste with water. Including cooking time, my curry in a hurry took no longer than 20 minutes, and there were no oil splatters to clean up.
The other box contains four packs of what the brand calls Thai “best seller” curry and soup pastes ($9.50 a box): tom yum and tom ka soups, and green and massaman curry pastes. They come already mixed with coconut cream.
While I am very happy to make the soups from scratch, I value their versatility in paste form.
I can rub the soup pastes, unadulterated of course, over meat or seafood as a marinade before grilling, or use as a base for pasta sauces, thinned out with a little water. The curry pastes can also be used this way.
Play More candy
Thailand knows all about unrelenting heat. These are burning times in Singapore, and Play More’s sugar-free Grape & Menthol Duo Candy ($1.70 for a 22g canister) will have a permanent place in my bag.
Two seconds after I pop one, the effect of menthol does its job of cooling my hot head. The Cooling Watermelon Gummy ($2.50 for a 55g bag) is, alas, not sugar-free, but does its cooling job admirably.
Mistine Ice Cooling Powder
Another product that will live rent-free in my bag is Mistine’s Ice Cooling Powder ($3.90 for a 100g canister).
A few seconds after the powder hits my fevered skin, the cooling sensation starts spreading all over. Priceless.
I usually have a packet of cooling wipes in my bag, but the alcohol in them dries out my skin. This might be a better bet on super hot days. For it to work properly, you will need to wipe perspiration off the skin first.
Where, I wonder, has Bangkok Balm ($14.90 for a 70g jar) been all my life? This multipurpose cream has a minty cooling effect and can soothe insect bites and other skin irritations.
I rub some on my temples to get rid of a headache, or when I am hit with a sudden attack of vertigo. Best of all, it does not smell aggressively medicinal.
Tan Hsueh Yun
The Straits Times
Asia News Network