Sunday, May 07, 2006

Plug: Sia Huat and Lau Choy Seng

Someone once told me that you can buy anything in Singapore provided you know where to look.

When it comes to professional kitchen equipment, one need look no further than Chinatown. While it may seem an odd place to begin furnishing a kitchen, there are actually two shops there that specialise in kitchen equipment and tableware.

Sia Huat facade

Sia Huat occupies three shop spaces along Temple Street, and supplies top-grade kitchen tools to restaurants and hotels. Everything from Cole and Mason to KitchenAid can be found here.

Sia Huat kitchenware

Walls are lined with racks containing ladles, whisks, knives, pots and pans, as well as numerous other things I couldn't name (think of those gizmos you use to whizz soups).

Sia Huat tableware

There's even a second floor that provides tableware, from fine bone china to frosted glass plates and crockery.

As to pricing, I doubt you'd be able to find steep discounts here, though it's probably cheaper to buy your KitchenAid mixer here than at Robinson's or Tang's (it's still a hefty $900+ though). It is possible to bulk order directly from them for a trade discount, but I assume that's only if you're looking to open a resaurant. Depending on what you're looking for though, it is possible to pick up some bargains. Things like souffle ramekins, mixing bowls, baking moulds, thermometers and scales are probably cheaper here than many other stores.

Sia Huat Pte Ltd
7, 9 & 11 Temple Street
Tel: 6223 1732

Just two doors down from Sia Huat is Lau Choy Seng, also a specialist in kitchen equipment and tableware.

Unlike Sia Huat, Lau Choy Seng is less upmarket - you won't find any Staub or Miele products here. Items are also laid out much more haphazardly, compared to Sia Huat's comparmentalised organisation, Lau Choy Seng is messy and confusing.

Lau Choy Seng

However, while Lau Choy Seng can't match industrial Sia Huat in terms of layout and product range, it's got a certain old-world charm, as if it were one big shophouse (in fact, many of Lau Choy Seng's workers are Chinese, not Singaporeans like Sia Huat's).

If that still doesn't convince you, service is also better at Lau Choy Seng, with no less than three people asking me if I needed help in the ten minutes I was there, compared to no assistance at all despite being in Sia Huat for half an hour.

If you still require more persuasion, prices at Lau Choy Seng are considerably lower than Sia Huat. Many of the smaller items such as plates and bowls can be found at two-thirds or less the prices quoted at Sia Huat.

Lau Choy Seng
23, 25 Temple Street
Tel: 6223 5486

So there you have it, the two-stop answer to all your baking and cooking needs.

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