Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ) – including Singpost Centre and Paya Lebar Square – is now a hub of transport and shopping in the east coast where many of us prefer to shop in the convenience of chain stores to get our clothes, food, and accessories. With all this convenience, it’s easy to miss out on the older strata-titled malls nearby – simply cross the road and you’ll find three older malls that make it seem as if you’ve stepped into a time warp.
A strata mall consists of a collection of individually-owned units within a complex, rather than malls which are owned by one entity (like PLQ) and often contain chain stores.
City Plaza, Tanjong Katong Complex, and Grandlink Square are just a stone’s throw away from PLQ, and each of them has a unique identity and mixed collection of shops. Many are small businesses in traditional trades like tailoring/fashion, F&B, TCM/massage, and accessories. So what’s the difference between these three malls?
This 18-storey high-rise was completed in 1972, and was popular in the 80s and 90s. While it looks run-down on the outside, the inside is bustling with plenty of fashion shops, beauty salons, accessories stores, and photo stores. City Plaza is especially popular for fashion – especially wholesale fashion and pre-loved fashion; almost every floor is full of clothes. This is also a rare place where you can actually bargain for wholesale clothes.
It’s also got a food court, as well as the popular fast food chain Arnold’s Fried Chicken. The ground floor is where you’ll find a plethora of currency exchange booths and ATMs, as well as a wide variety of mobile phone shops and two mahjong retailers.
Tanjong Katong Complex
Tanjong Katong Complex is known for its wide array of traditional Malay clothing and textiles – plenty of stalls will have baju kurung, jubah, and hijab of all colours and patterns (it’s also got a number of wedding outfit specialists). In terms of dining, there are 2 massive dining/banquet halls – one for Malay weddings, the other for Chinese food.
There’s also a mix of other shops selling things like household electronics to carpets and jewellery. One store that stands out is Synwin, a music instrument store where you can get everything from violins and guitars to Chinese instruments. However, its lease expires in 2022, and its fate remains uncertain.
Grandlink Square is a bit of a strange mall – it houses a wide variety of shops, ranging from small TCM practitioners and beauty salons to a huge banquet hall and a spa. This isn’t the kind of mall you simply come to go window shopping.
However, the stores located on the outside of the mall consist of a number of popular restaurants that line the riverside, including Little Vietnam and Don Lechon (known for its Filipino roasted suckling pig). Honey Night is also very popular, serving Korean bar food and drinks. These restaurants all open in the evening.
More places to explore
Of course the area around Paya Lebar MRT has more than just PLQ and these strata malls. There’s also the newer Kinex Mall, which is home to a number of gyms and Kpop dance schools in addition to popular eateries like Kith, Fatburger’s, and Hoshino’s Coffee.
A little further away is Wisma Geylang Serai, which is an airy mall lined with restaurants – like the popular Marrybrown – as well as a community centre and a number of small shops.
If you do make your way down to Paya Lebar, do check these places out!