When Ion Mall first opened downtown I took a look through it. Well, it wasn’t exactly when it opened, but it was close. Maybe a week later. I came in from the ground level and went up a few floors and poked around a bit, but I wasn’t that impressed. Most of the stores are high end like Giorgio Armani, and other crap that I don’t care to know the name of. In other words, it was sterile and just like almost every other mall on Orchard Road. I didn’t stay long on that trip either. Besides my lack of interest in what was available, most of the stores were still closed. They opened the mall to shoppers long before the place was full.
The one thing I did see that interested me while I was walking around was a dragon dance for a store opening. After I stood around and watched that for a while, I got bored and left. I was hungry and didn’t see a food court so I was in a bit of a hurry to get to Tampines. I had a craving for beef pepper rice!
Yesterday (Friday night) I had the chance to go back through Ion, and I was actually a bit impressed. The place is a lot bigger than I expected and the food court was impressive!
I guess the most impressive thing about the mall is its size. The first time I went there I was in a bit of hurry and gave the place the brush off after a cursory walk through. I think part of the problem is that I entered the place from the ground level. I had no idea just what was lurking below!
This time around my wife and I were coming from Shaw Center so we used the tunnels underground to get into Ion. We almost got lost but then we saw a sign pointing towards “Jewelry Street” for Ion. I think that was the name. We followed it and sure enough it was lined with jewelry stores. It passed around the turn-styles for the MRT and brought us into Ion Mall itself… on the 4th basement I believe.
Ion is huge underground. I didn’t even realize we were in a basement at first. We kept walking and walking and we kept going up more and more escalators and then I realized I saw doors and we were on the ground level. It was a bit disorienting at first. By the time we got to the ground floor we’d seen so much that we were ready to leave.
My initial assessment about what type of stores the place has didn’t change. It’s mostly high end stuff that’s nice to look at, but isn’t really worth buying. Not in my opinion anyway. Not to mention that most of what we saw seemed to be overpriced. I imagine part of that huge gap in prices was due to the rent the stores are paying for those locations but we saw a skin care product that costs 19 USD being sold for 68 SGD. It would be cheaper to have two of them bought for us in the US and shipped to us than it would be to buy one in Singapore. Crazy! So, Ion is nice to spend time in for sightseeing purposes, but I don’t think I’ll do any real shopping there any time soon.
What I was impressed with was the food court. We were in the mood for some kopi, so I kept an eye out for signs to the food court. When we found it, we were pleasantly surprised with how classy the place looks given that it’s just a food court. That’s something I’ve noticed about Singapore though. They really do food courts right here when it comes to setting a nice atmosphere. My favorites are the Food Republic at Vivocity, which looks like a street out of a stereotypical back alley ‘Chinatown’ and the Food Republic at the SunTec Convention Center, which looks like a library. Very cool! This one had it’s own unique charm though and, as you can see in the photo above, is called the Food Opera. (Geek moment: The first thing I thought of is the Opera web browser when I saw this sign).
Here are some photos of the place:
I wasn’t really expecting to see deer heads mounted on walls anywhere in Singapore, let alone in a posh mall’s food court. Hey, thanks! It reminded me of home.
The food was displayed quite nicely in the stalls. I love the whole hanging piglet. That really adds a nice touch!
The seating area is nice. There are the standard tables and long bench type seats. The chandeliers were fun!
Scattered around the seating area were various statues of animals. Kids were playing with them and I saw a few other people posing to have photos taken with them, or taking photos of the statues alone. Kinda lame when you think about it, but on the other hand I don’t recall ever seeing anything like this in the US. Not at a food court anyway.
Me playing with the goat.
While we were there we only had kopi. I had mine iced and my wife took hers hot. It was pretty good. It wasn’t too strong or too mild. We’d already eaten or I’d have tried some of the food there. I think we’ll go back just for that. I didn’t see her but while I was in line to get the drinks my wife spotted a lady pushing a cart around selling food items. She said the lady had chicken feet.
It reminded me of some Chinese restaurants I’d been to in New York City’s Chinatown where a server will come around with a cart and you take what you want from it. I don’t recall if there was a menu to order from but if you just take from the carts you pay by how many plates you have when you leave. I can’t remember the name of the place but it was under a bridge I think. That was about 18 years ago. Heck, it might not even be there anymore.
In the end, I wasn’t overly impressed with the mall itself, but I’m always happy when I find another set of eating establishments to feast at.