A string of new gourmet grocers has popped up in Singapore to whet the appetite of increasingly discerning consumers, joining the more than 20 niche grocers that have set up shop here in the last four years, selling everything from Korean produce to meat and seafood from Europe and Japan.
Major supermarket chains here, such as FairPrice and Cold Storage, have stepped up their game too, stocking their shelves with organic produce and international goods to satisfy posh palates.
Get French jams and dairy goodies from Secrets Fine Food in Tiong Bahru; Australian fruits and dips from Little Farms at Valley Point Shopping Centre; and Japanese soups, snacks and sauces from Midtown Mart in Marina Square; and the Gyomu & Megumi no Sato section at Big Box's Hypermart in Jurong East.
Many niche grocers stay competitive by working directly with suppliers and farmers so as to cut out the middle man.
For instance, Little Farms' chief executive Fred Moujalli, 41, maintains close ties with suppliers in his home country of Australia. He used to be the produce-buying manager for gourmet grocery chain Thomas Dux Grocer in Victoria and New South Wales, and was the head of buying and procurement for Australian home delivery service My Food Bag.
Here are 5 gourmet grocers you should check out.
1. Secrets Fine Food
Opened last November, the shop in Tiong Bahru offers restaurant-quality produce mainly from France.
Products include cheese from acclaimed French cheesemonger Herve Mons (prices start at $9 for 100g of French cheese Gabietou from Pyrenees). You could also pick up artisanal jams ($19 each for a 220g jar) with flavours such as raspberry, blood orange and strawberry from French jam maker Christine Ferber.
There is also Bordier butter by French butter craftsman Jean-Yves Bordier in flavours such as espelette chilli pepper ($8.50, 125g), seaweed ($8.50, 125g) and smoked salt ($6.80, 125g).
A range of Bordier yogurt ($4.50, 125g), produced by a farmer in Brittany, with flavours such as coconut, raspberry, blueberry and lime, is available too.
Do not miss the range of cold cuts, which include coppa ham ($19 for 100g) and vuletta pork cheek ($19 for 100g) from the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
There is also a range of Il Borgo del Balsamico balsamic vinegars and condiments by Italian sisters Cristina and Silvia Crotti.
Prices start from $14 for a 250ml bottle of balsamic vinegar cream.
Online shopping and home delivery are available.
Block 55 Tiong Poh Rd, #01-02, Singapore 160055
11am-8pm Tues-Fri, 10am-8pm Sat-Sun, closed Mon
2. Little Farms
Specialising in Australian produce, the two-month-old Little Farms grocer carries a wide fruit selection, along with a variety of dips, snacks and sauces.
Think large Panama passionfruits, sweet Ladyfinger bananas and creamy Shepard avocadoes.
Party-worthy snack condiments include gluten-free dips ($8.98) from Aussie brand Roza's, which come in flavours such as beetroot, walnut and pomegranate; artichoke and garlic; and chargrilled capsicum.
You can also find Turkish dips ($10.80 each) from Mediterranean restaurant Efendy in Sydney. Options include eggplant baba ghanoush dip with pepita (Spanish for pumpkin seed); and pomegranate and sumac hummus.
Other highlights include soda ($19.98) from New Zealand soda company Six Barrel Soda Co and pasta sauces ($13.98) from Sydney- based Italian chef Luca Ciano.
Little Farms will start its online platform and home delivery service by June.
Valley Point Shopping Centre, 491 River Valley Rd, #01-20, Singapore 248371
3. Gyomu & Megumi no Sato
The hypermart in Big Box in Jurong East now has a section for Japanese produce. This new partnership comes under BB & G-7 Retails, a subsidiary of TT Group, which operates Big Box.
Currently, Megumi no Sato - a chain that focuses on agricultural products - has 21 outlets in Japan and the branch in Big Box is its first overseas venture. Gyomu is a supermarket chain with more than 700 stores in Japan that caters to wholesale and bulk-buy purchases.
Prices for Japanese produce are kept affordable. For example, prices for Fuji apples start from $5 for three. At the Isetan supermarket in Westgate mall, a Fuji apple costs $6.90 each.
Other produce includes Kumamoto tomatoes ($6 for three) and kidney beans from Okinawa ($3 for 80g). You can also buy groceries, such as bonito flakes ($19.60 for 500g) and a litre of Caesar salad sauce ($9.70) in bulk.
Big Box Hypermart, 1 Venture Avenue, Level 1, Singapore 608521
10am-10pm Sun-Thurs, 10am-11pm Fri-Sat
4. Midtown Mart
It may not be as big as Japanese food hall Emporium Shokuhin in the same mall, but Midtown Mart still packs plenty of Japanese products, from confectionery items and snacks to household goods.
A collaboration between Japanese restaurant chain Tampopo and the Japan External Trade Organization here, the store opened in January. The chain is called Daikoku in Japan and operates more than 80 supermarkets. This is its first overseas venture.
New products are brought in every week, such as Hikari six-grain and vegetable soup ($6 for a pack of four) and seaweed soup ($2.50 for a pack of three). There is also a wide selection of coffee and tea from Japan, such as Tsujiri matcha milk ($9.80).
Midtown Mart carries exclusive products that are handmade or produced in Kyoto too. Visit the shop on Tuesday for the latest shipment from Japan.
Marina Square, 6 Raffles Boulevard, #03-130A, Singapore 039594
5. Eat Organic
This one-stop grocer and lifestyle store is the oldest organic store in Singapore.
The store’s first floor bursts with a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. You’ll also find an extensive range of grocery items including gluten and allergen-free products, dairy produce, eggs, frozen meat, poultry, wild caught fish and deli-style meats.
The second floor brims with organic baby food and eco-friendly baby products, health supplements, homeopathic remedies, cosmetics and personal care, ecological household products and lots more.
With a vision to inculcate a general awareness towards healthy and wholesome living, the quality organic products at Eat Organic boast competitive prices.
619H Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 269728
10am-7pm Mon-Sat, 11am-4pm Sun & PH
By Eunice Quek, The Straits Times, 10 April 2016
Additional reporting by Pinky Chng (last updated October 2016)