Takashimaya on Orchard Road

Takashimaya is a Japanese department store that can be found on Orchard Road, which is a well known shopping district in Singapore. I went to Takashimaya with a one goal in mind, to visit their bookstore Kinokuniya. Kinokuniya bookstores can be found in many places around the world, usually selling Japanese books. There’s one in Mitsuwa outside of Chicago in Arlington Heights. (It mostly sells stationary, gifts and Japanese books) The one in Singapore, however, is full of English books. So many that I didn’t know where to start. I’ve gotten so use to having a small selection of books in some offshoot foreign language section here in Korea that I’d kind of forgotten what it’s like to have options, (not to mention new release options) and enough space in my luggage to buy books. I ended up only getting two that I hadn’t been able to find in Korea. I could easily have spent all day wandering the stacks adding more but I resisted. It was definitely a fun spot to visit and there was even an author having a signing that we passed. (I was a bit too enthralled to pull out my camera and take pictures of the bookstore.) There are three Kinokuniya bookstores in Singapore, the one in Takshimaya however is the biggest.

The other goal while we were at Takashimaya was to sit and have a snack. We hadn’t eaten in quite awhile and were absolutely exhausted so we procured snacks from a couple of kiosks and then sat by a fountain and ate. My friend had several suggestions, including running off to buy a surprise snack from Mr. Obanyaki. I got to pick one of two and ended up with one filled with a vanilla custard. Obanyaki is a Japanese dessert usually filled with azuki (sweet red bean) that is had during festivals. It was delicious.

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We also had a pandan chiffon cake. Pandan is what makes the chiffon cake green, its a common herb that comes from the tropical padan plant, Pandan. It’s one of the ingredients used in making kaya, the jam used in the Kaya toast I had for breakfast. It was nice and airy and delicious.

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The other treat my friend decided was a must was a kueh lopes with a melakas syrup. (Spelling differs, sometimes it’s Kuih Lopes, sometimes Kue Lupis) This treat is made from rice that after being soaked and partially cooked is pressed into a triangle using banana leaves, and depending on the source, steamed/cooked more. It’s covered in shredded coconut and drizzled in palm sugar. It’s quite messy, thus the photo of it at the bottom of the bag.

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The fountain where we sat and ate, called the Egyptian Fountain is located on level B1 and is a good place to sit and have a snack. There are many areas on this floor to buy snacks however practically none of them had seating.

When we finished our snacks and our book shopping we headed outside. Out one entrance there were auditions happening and out the other was a small ice cream stand that brought utter joy to my friend. In Singapore there are these little ice cream stands that can be wheeled about, a bit like the coconut ice cream ones found in Chicago and cities on hot days,  or the yogurt ones found in Korea. But the difference is that the ice cream sold in Singapore is homemade. Or at least that’s what my friend told me, hurrying off to get us each a cone from the ice cream uncle.

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My friend didn’t get us one scoop of ice cream but instead a combination of flavors: Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and if you look closely you might spot the corn. It’s a corn flavored ice cream with actual kernels of corn in it.  For me, a person unfamiliar with corn ice cream, the flavor overpowered the simple traditional flavors. I did however enjoy it. It was a wonderful reprieve from the heat. Another popular option we did not get is in rainbow bread. This is a Singapore ice cream sandwich, though much more accurate in the idea of a sandwich then what can be found in other countries. It seems to be a scoop or slab of ice cream on a slice of bread. You can get a piece of white bread if you want, but why do that when you could get a colorful one made with padan? I’m very curious as to how it tastes and what the bread has to offer and how the texture works. It definitely seems like a fun option.

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Walking around Orchard road is quite fun. There’s plenty of shops to look at and tons of people around. We ran into people giving out free samples of new flavors of popular soda, carrying the soda on their backs with little hoses so people could pick which flavor they wanted to try. There were also tons of restaurants. I can see why it’s a popular area to visit.

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