The OutPost Reviews: L32 Handmade Noodles. Best Banmian in Singapore?

Just steps away from our front door lies the immensely popular L32 Kopitiam, specialising in Ban Mian.

L32 Kopitiam is at 588 Geylang Road (@ Lorong 32)
L32 Kopitiam is at 558 Geylang Road (@ Lorong 32)

The place is open daily (except Mondays) from 11:30am till 10:30pm. There’s a constant queue, for good reasons!

You can choose from either flat noodles or egg noodles, and prepared either dry or with soup (the usual serving method).  You then choose what meat or fish you’d like – pork, chicken, fish balls, meat balls, prawns, sliced fish, clams, or a combination. An egg is normally added to the mixture, too.

L32 Kopitiam - handmade noodles menu
L32 Kopitiam – handmade noodles menu

The garnishes are also super fresh, adding a special touch to your ban mian with crunchy ikan bilis (dried whole fish) and a good dose of their homemade chili sauce. The chilis for their sauce are freshly chopped daily. It’s wonderful, fresh, potent and non oily.

L32 Ban Mian - dry noodles with chicken
L32 Ban Mian – dry egg noodles with chicken, garnished with ikan bilis and fresh chili sauce
L32 banmian - dry flat noodles with pork
L32 banmian – dry flat noodles with pork

While the waiting time is typically 15 minutes, you’ll be rewarded with an ultra-fresh bowl of tasty handmade noodles. They charge an additional 20 cents for takeaway (mainly to defray the cost of the plastic packaging).

My noodles being prepared at L32. Long queue!
My noodles being prepared at L32. Long queue!

Highly recommended!

L32 is at the corner of Geylang Road and Lorong 32 (558 Geylang Road).

Orchard Road Department Stores

View of Orchard Road, Singapore, showing Isetan, Takashimaya, Robinsons, TANGS and METRO department stores
View of Orchard Road, Singapore, showing Isetan, Takashimaya, Robinsons, TANGS and METRO department stores

Orchard Road in Singapore is the traditional shopping mecca for this city state. While most of the top fashion brands like Prada, Dior, Chanel, Burberry, Paul Smith, Abercrombie & Fitch and H&M have monobrand stores on Orchard Road, the street has long been anchored by several large department stores. Here we profile the main Orchard Road department stores and their chief distinguishing characteristics.

Takashimaya

Japanese-owned Takashimaya Department Store (“Taka’s”) is perhaps the Orchard Road department store with the largest foot traffic and, at 375,000 square feet, the largest floor space of the bunch.

Takashimaya Department Store on Orchard Road, Singapore
Takashimaya Department Store on Orchard Road, Singapore

The store occupies one of the twin towers of the Ngee Ann City shopping centre, one of the most imposing structures on Orchard Road with an enviable collection of luxury boutiques including Chanel, Tiffany, Dior, Cartier, La Duree, etc. The red granite buildings evoke the image of a mausoleum, paying homage to Orchard Road’s former use as a cemetary. Ngee Ann City also features a spacious central courtyard (the semi-circular “Civic Plaza”), a wide sidewalk, and an indoor atrium (“Takashimaya Square”).

Ngee Ann City, Orchard Road, Singapore - view from atrium
Takashimaya Square, Ngee Ann City, Orchard Road, Singapore

Takashimaya operates as a department store in its own right and also offers dedicated areas for luxury brands such as Ferragamo, Tod’s, Dior, etc. which are within the boundaries of the department store.

TANGS

C.K. Tang (“TANGS”) is the pride of Singapore department stores. Locally owned and operated since 1932, it occupies a prime location at the corner of Orchard and Scotts Roads, on the same corner as the Marriott Hotel (also developed by C.K. Tang).

Tangs Department Store with Marriott Hotel in Background
Tangs Department Store with Marriott Hotel in Background

The green-tiled roof and facade were designed to emulate the Imperial Palace of the Forbidden City in Beijing. This, TANGS’ flagship store, comprises a retail area of approximately 160,000 square feet.

TANGS Department Store Singapore - view from Orchard Road
TANGS Department Store – view from Orchard Road

 

TANGS Department Store - corner of Orchard and Scotts Roads
TANGS Department Store – corner of Orchard and Scotts Roads

TANGS also has a branch at the VivoCity Shopping Centre (85,000 square feet) and has expanded to Malaysia too.

TANGS is also arguably the farthest along of all the old-school Orchard Road department stores in terms of its online presence. They have an active fashion and lifestyle blog, a mobile app, and are also active on social media (Facebook – 95000 followers, Instagram – 4400 followers).

Isetan

Japanese-owned Isetan has 6 branches in Singapore, including 2 on the Orchard Road strip.

Their traditional clientele is somewhat older, and their stores in Orchard Road are somewhat less prominent than rivals such as Tangs and Takashimaya.

Isetan’s flagship location is in Shaw House. Located at the prime crossroads of Orchard and Scotts Roads, Shaw House completed extensive renovations at the end of 2014. Isetan operates a large and very popular supermarket in the basement.

The company is also in the process of reassessing its Wisma Atria location, with the intent of leasing out the entire space to other retailers and taking on merely a facilities-management role.

 

Isetan at Orchard and Scotts, Singapore
Isetan at Shaw Centre, Orchard and Scotts Roads, Singapore

 

Isetan at Wisma Atria, Orchard Road, Singapore
Isetan at Wisma Atria, Orchard Road, Singapore

Robinsons

Founded in Singapore in 1858, Robinsons (originally, Spicer & Robinson) has 3 branches of its eponymous department store brand in Singapore. The newest and most prominent Robinsons store is in The Heeren mall on Orchard Road, opened in 2013 and comprising 180,000 square feet. The Robinsons store in Raffles City is also quite central and comprises 85,000 square feet.

Robinsons at The Heeren, Singapore
Robinsons at The Heeren, Singapore

 

Robinsons at The Heeren, Singapore
Robinsons at The Heeren, Singapore

In addition to Robinsons department store, the company operates the John Little and Marks & Spencer brands in Singapore.

Robinsons is now owned by the Dubai-based Al-Futtaim Group, a global retail giant with over 20,000 employees.

Metro

Locally-owned METRO has been in business since 1957 and operates 5 branches throughout Singapore, including 2 on Orchard Road. Their flagship is in the Paragon Shopping Mall and their second location on Orchard is in The Centrepoint Mall, a space comprising 130,000 square feet which the company took over from Robinsons in 2014.

METRO at Centrepoint, Orchard Road, Singapore
METRO at Centrepoint, Orchard Road, Singapore
METRO at Paragon, Orchard Road
METRO at Paragon, Orchard Road

METRO has a focus on soft goods and has more of an orientation towards local shoppers with a value orientation.

Countdown to The OutPost’s Launch!

These are exciting times at The OutPost. We’re busy setting up the co-working space and getting ready to become operational on 1st February. So far, everything’s on track. According to MyRepublic (a Singapore ISP), our Internet should be connected on 30th January so that’s the real operational milestone!

Food heaven in Sims / Geylang!

We’re also busy exploring our new neighborhood and have discovered a number of cool restaurants and hangouts which appeal to a broad spectrum of tastes. There’s everything from a renowned ban mian (noodles) hawker stall at L32 Kopitiam, to fresh seafood at No Signboard (specialties include Singapore’s famous chili crab), to 24-hour dim sum, to gourmet twists on perennial favourite char siew (barbecued pork) at Char.

char siew

We’re also within walking distance to The Tuckshop bar and to Brawn & Brains Coffee (although the coffee we’ll be brewing at The OutPost will be top-notch too). We’re working on a foodie map of the neighborhood 🙂

And in another piece of good news, SG Magazine recently named our Sims neighborhood as “Singapore’s next hot neighborhood“.

Stay tuned for news of our opening party!

The Inexorable Decline of East Asia

Further to the shifting economic momentum between ASEAN and the East Asian economies, Gordon Chang has just written an interesting blog post about the impact of low fertility on the future prospects of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and even China. Chang points out that all of these economies have fertility rates below what is needed to simply replace the population.

In particular, Chang contends that China’s low fertility will have profound implications for the country’s future economic prospects. Indeed, it is forecast that India will overtake China in total population within the next 10 years.

Full blog post:

East Asia’s Population ‘Death Spiral’

The Economist Highlights the “On-Demand Economy”

The 3-January-2015 print edition of The Economist contains an article about the on-demand economy, citing the profound impact of this evolution in the economy’s structure and the challenges being faced by middle-aged service industry professionals in adapting to these new realities.

These pressures have been encountered in the IT sector for many years now, with overseas companies and workers able to deliver professional results at very competitive costs. Outsourcing of IT services is now more the norm than the exception.

Taking such trends to the next level, the article discusses companies like Uber, Handy and SpoonRocket which are dis-assembling local service companies such as taxis, cleaners and takeway meals. Through technology, these companies are arranging on-demand services via a mobile, independent workforce. Companies leveraging the “sharing economy” are also offering professional services such as doctors, lawyers and consultants.

Of course, the downside of this “revolution” is the uncertainty imposed on the workforce and the loss of broadly-based subsidised benefits such as a social safety net. Public policy needs to respond to this shift by dismissing the assumption of a stable employer and career, on which social programmes have been designed.

Full article:

Workers on tap [The Economist]

Understanding the Southeast Asian Economies

Overview of ASEAN

ASEAN Member States map

Southeast Asia is already an economic bloc of global importance and the future looks bright.

The 10 countries comprising the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have a total population of over 625 million and are estimated to have attained a total GDP of about $2.4 trillion in 2013, placing the group within the top 10 global economies ranked by Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).

However, looking at ASEAN as a cohesive economic bloc is misleading. There are widely disparate populations, population densities and incomes, both between the nations and within them.

This post will look at each of the countries in somewhat more depth, to assist companies new to the region to gain a high level understanding of each country’s relative strengths and weaknesses.

Here’s a highly subjective grouping of the ASEAN countries in terms of their populations and annual per-capita GDPs (figures from 2013, GDP at PPP).

High GDP per capita, low population states

  • Singapore (5.4 million population, US$65,064 GDP per capita)
  • Brunei (406 thousand population, US$53,017 GDP per capita)

Middle GDP per capita, medium population states

  • Malaysia (30 million population,US$17,541 GDP per capita)
  • Thailand (68.3 million population, US$9,873 GDP per capita)

High population, low GDP per capita states

  • Indonesia (248.8 million population, US$5,133 GDP per capita)
  • Philippines (99.4 million population, US$4,546 GDP per capita)
  • Viet Nam (89.7 million population, US$4,026 GDP per capita)
  • Myanmar (61.6 million population, US$1,835 GDP per capita)

Low population, low GDP per capita states

  • Cambodia (15 million population, US$2,653 GDP per capita)
  • Lao PDR (6.6 million population, US$3,127 GDP per capita)

Some observations on ASEAN economic dynamism

The outliers here are clearing Singapore, a city-state with GDP per-capita easily outpacing all of the G8 countries and ahead of even smaller countries such as Switzerland and Norway. It’s easy to understand why Singapore is the destination of choice for companies new to the region. The infrastructure and general comfort level make it an easy place for foreigners to assimilate. At the same time, it’s far removed from the economic and social realities of the rest of ASEAN.

On the other hand, Indonesia is the 4th most populous country in the world and represents an enormous consumer economic opportunity.

In terms of potential, Myanmar is the last large country to have liberalized its economy and there is currently a virtual feeding frenzy, especially from the other ASEAN countries.

ASEAN Five

One of the most profound shifts in economic leadership is the emergence of the “ASEAN Five” economies of Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Viet Nam. Together, they are poised to surpass the total GDP of the four “Asian Tiger” economies of South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong.

As recently as 10 years ago, the ASEAN Five comprised less than half of the GDP of the four Asian Tigers.

This is the biggest shift in Asia’s economic rankings since China’s GDP overtook Japan’s about 4 years ago.

Indian Businesses Prefer Singapore

A recent article in India’s The Economic Times quotes top managers from several large Indian business groups on why they see significant advantages in basing their international operations out of Singapore, not just for Asian business but as a focal point for all of their international activities.

In addition to the ease of accessing capital markets via Singapore to finance their growing businesses, wealthy Indian families are also setting up family offices in Singapore to take advantage of tax preferences.

The article also discusses why Indian companies prefer Singapore over Hong Kong, which was historically a more popular centre for pan-Asian business.

It’s impressive to learn that over 6000 Indian businesses are registered in Singapore (of which 2000 maintain active operations here).

Click the link below to access the full article:

How Singapore is turning into India Inc’s gateway to the world [The Economic Times]

The Sharing Economy and MBAs

Came across a good article about major shifts in the working environment for millenial professionals.

This discusses MBAs specifically, but the trends are similar for many business professionals. Co-working feeds directly into this evolution of the optimal workplace. These types of flexible arrangements are increasingly preferred from both the organisation’s and consultant’s perspective.

Even larger companies are clueing into the benefits of allying with these startup communities – they are establishing satellite offices to tap into the ideas and energy coming from new companies.

MBAs Predict The Future: Sharing Economy Drives Freelance Consulting