The Hidden Gems of Joo Chiat Complex

Live around Joo Chiat/ Haig Road/ Geylang Serai/ Eunos? You may have passed by this place called Joo Chiat Complex many times but could be clueless about what’s inside – except for a big 2 storeys NTUC FairPrice supermarket. Well, that was the case for me until today. Today, I finally took a proper look at what this mall in my neighbourhood has to offer.

Being just days before Hari Raya Puasa, this mall (and the whole area of Geylang Serai) was bustling with people since early in the morning and this should be the busiest time of the year for this mall. The whole area felt so vibrant and energetic.


1. “Chapalang” kitchenware shops

Sorry, I do not have a proper term for this – but this colloquially refers to shops which sells EVERYTHING! There are a few of such shops within this complex and more located at neighbouring shop houses.

“Chapalang shops” are common everywhere, you know, the sort which sells lithium batteries, fly swats and air fresheners, but chapalang kitchenware shops are far less common. Being part of Geylang Serai, an area known to be culturally rich especially for Malay culture, you can expect to find everything you need for Singaporean cooking or baking in Geylang Serai because culture loving people tend to cook or bake local snacks at home to preserve tradition (or because store bought ones simply cannot make it and is not worth the calories, at least that was the case for me).

But how to make your own when you don’t have the traditional equipment, you wonder?

At “chapalang” kitchenware shops like this one, you can find appliances to make local kuehs (eg. Love letters aka egg rolls or kueh bulu for festive seasons like Chinese New Year or Hari Raya) which are slowly becoming endangered in Singapore because times have changed and people opt for conveniently buying them off the shelves (but seriously they don’t taste anywhere close to homemade ones).

You can also get the containers with red lids to store your freshly baked New Year goodies right here (at a bargain too, comparing to baking supply stores). You may not find such items in town anymore, but in Joo Chiat Complex, you’ll definitely get what you need for your home baking. You have no excuse to avoid home baking your New Year cookies now that you know where to get the supplies from.

You can also find everything else you need in your kitchen like sieves, kitchen scissors, bread bins, cake stands, cake mixer, rice cooker etc. You name it, they have it. And it’s definitely not overpriced too.

As a baker myself, I am super happy to know that I have access to all these right in my neighbourhood! #lucky. There was one time I was baking halfway and realised I needed an electric scale urgently for my baking. I quickly made my way down and randomly found one for just $15 (lowest I could find was $59 at famous baking shop)! It worked really well with different units like Oz, g, kg and precise to decimal points.

New home owners (with a tight budget too, most likely) looking to stock up their kitchen supplies from scratch can start here. Don’t be ripped off somewhere else in town!


2. Fabric

We all know that Chinatown, Arab Street or this particular international shop in a mall in Orchard Road are the places to go for fabric. I do not make my own clothes regularly (no time for that) but there were instances when I actually went down to Chinatown to get cloth for some project I was working on. Today I discovered that Joo Chiat Complex has plenty of textile shops with huge varieties and low prices!

Just look at this! People living in the east will really benefit from this mall because you can now get nearer access to textiles. I am no expert in this field but at a glance I see organza, lace and batik (I’m sure the international shop doesn’t have this!). That orange batik is SO lovely. I will go back someday when I figure out I can make with this! (Fun fact: I love sewing as a hobby!)


3. Curtains and cushion covers

This mall has plenty of shops selling household necessities like curtains, cushion covers, bed sheets and rugs.

You can find these items anywhere in Singapore, but at Joo Chiat Complex you’ll get a bigger variety to select from.

Heading over to Block 2 now…


4. NTUC FairPrice Supermarket

Located in Block 2, this is everybody’s favourite shop and it needs no introduction. This particular store has 2 storeys and is well stocked. Because this area is Geylang Serai, you can definitely find ingredients required for Malay cooking on top of the usual selection. They have salmon and avocado here and I conveniently bought some back to prepare my dinner!

By now you should realise that I made no mention about FOOD. “Where’s the food!?” you’re asking? Yes, they have no food establishments. In a way, this is a good thing because it keeps the whole complex cleaner.

But of course, I won’t leave you guys hungry or settle for less when you actually go all the way to Joo Chiat Complex after your shopping. There are 2 markets (Haig Road Market and Geylang Serai New Market) and a famous coffeeshop right next to this complex so you can hop over conveniently for a meal when you’re done shopping there.

You can find all sorts of Malay food here since this area is the famous Malay enclave. My personal favourites are Putu Piring and Malay Satay (get the mutton!). These stalls are too good. Wherever you hail from (Jurong Tampines or Antarctica alike), you MUST come to this area at least once in your life (err no actually, you’d want to come here more than once in your life after trying) to try these.

So no worries about going hungry after getting your supplies from Joo Chiat Complex. Good food is less than 400m away.

Joo Chiat Complex is located between Paya Lebar and Eunos MRT Stations, and if you do not wish to walk, here are the bus services serving this mall. 24, 28 and 154 will bring you to Paya Lebar Station in a flash. It isn’t considered ulu (inaccessible) in my opinion! Non-residents of Geylang Serai or Joo Chiat can easily check it out too.

For those driving, there’s a multi-storey carpark attached to the complex.

For those taking taxi, this complex is at the corner of Geylang Road and Joo Chiat Road, both busy roads with plenty of taxis. This is definitely not one of those ulu heartland places where you’ll feel stranded with no way to get out once you alight from your taxi there.


The year of 2015 is Singapore’s Jubilee year and HDB Shopping Centres’ committee has planned out a series of event in celebration.

If you happen to visit Joo Chiat Complex or any other HDB Shopping Centres, you can:

1. Vote for your Top 50 shops

HDB will be rewarding these neighbourly retailers this year with a decal and commemorative plaque for display in their shops as testament of their popularity. Starting from 1 July 2015 till 31 October 2015, shoppers can nominate and vote for their favourite online via app [launched 1 July 2015] and stand a chance to win prizes in the Top 50 Favourite Shops contest.

Scan the following QR code to download the Voting Application and let your favourite shop top the chart! For Android Devices:

The iOS version will be available soon.

2. #myfavHDBmall Photography Competition

Everybody has a smartphone nowadays so why not snap some pictures while you’re there and participate! This competition aims to collect these precious moments that captured by at the 24 HDB Shopping Centres and you stand a chance to win attractive prizes! The winning entries will also be exhibited at 888 Plaza in 14 November 2015.

To participate:

1) Snap a picture of your favourite moment at one of the HDB Shopping Centres.
2) Convert your entries to JPEG format (maximum of 3), not exceeding 5MB each with your name and the HDB Mall’s name to be used as filename. E.g. Lionel Lim_888 Plaza (01)
* Please refer to Submission Requirements for more details.
3) Click here to submit your entries now!


31 October 2015, 2359Hrs
* Terms and Conditions for Participation


c. Enter the Book of Records

To mark the momentous year, an attempt is underway to create the largest SG50 logo made from stamps to set a new record in the Singapore Book of Records. Starting from May till end October, residents can play their part and donate their used and unused stamps for this record-breaking initiative and stand a chance to win attractive shopping vouchers.

For more info, please visit


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