Far East Flora is redefining how we shop for floral and gardening items. Gone are the days of parking indiscriminately along Thomson Road and navigating the multiple florists and gardening stalls. At times it was hot and uncomfortable and hence it was usually packed in the evenings when patrons would find it cooler to visit. If it was raining, a visit would be difficult. Cue Far East Flora. They have built an 11-storey mall along Clementi Road right next to the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). Although I counted 10 storeys as the Sky Garden was one level above the Speciality Gardening… I am assuming they considered basement as a level.
This is a big change. Sheltered, air-conditioned, with ample parking and a cafe to boot. Although the cafe F’east is really a huge letdown. Ok, let’s first deal with what is NOT GOOD at Far East Flora.
The creative name of the cafe, a play on Far East’s name, serves run-of-the-mill items which you would most likely find at any cafe if you were dining at an airport and waiting for your flight. You do not remember the restaurant or cafe which you patronised at the airport because that is not what you are there for. Perhaps this was the thinking behind F’east. You visit the cafe to eat but please do not remember this as the reason you visited Far East Flora’s Mall. If this was their goal, they successfully achieved it.
Well here are their timings. There is a gap in the afternoon when the kitchen is closed so please take note.
In conclusion before getting into the details, this cafe is not good. I fail to find an alternate adjective to describe the cafe as plain words are sufficient to express my abject disappointment.
For starters, the menu though seemingly extensive, was surprisingly underwhelming.
I am vegetarian and the only option for me that was not sold out was the mushroom soup which costs $8 before GST.
Our creative director Wilber went for the Fish and Chips while we ordered 2 cakes.
Total damage? $38.56.
Considering that the only person at the table who had a meal was Wilber, this was not the cheapest option. Especially considering the quality and quantity of the food.
If I had to use one word to describe these cakes, it would be edible. Adding GST into their individual $8.90 price and you get very close to $10 per slice of cake. Do note that there is a Starbucks outlet right next door at SUSS where you can get cheaper and most probably better cakes.
Aesthetically this looks fine. Price: Almost $20 after GST.
What else is there? I did not try their muffins or bread from their bakery.
I think the small saving grace was perhaps the ambience. It was clean and bright although I personally think that this looked more like a cafe that you will find at a local university or polytechnic.
And to be frank, I spent more time looking at this than the food on display…
Ok now to move on to the good stuff.
This place is such a huge change to how I used to shop for floral and gardening items. I have always wondered why such large set ups could not operate out of a huge shopping mall rather than have clients cramp under what looks like makeshift tents. As someone who is always reminiscing about past architecture and lamenting how waves of en bloc have taken away parts of Singapore history, I do think that there is nothing historical to keep about the makeshift tents. This is the way I want to shop for floral and gardening items.
The basement was titled “Lifestyle Gardening”
Here you can find plants like orchids and roses. I believe these should be more sensitive plants and hence they are displayed indoors under a very cool and controlled environment. The place was not very crowded on a Friday afternoon but there were patrons roaming around making purchases.
Level 1 was labeled “Gardening and Accessories”. It still had plants on offer.
Cactus never looked this pretty…
All this was in a comfortable, air-conditioned setting.
Level 2 houses the wholesale market.
The fruits were very reasonably priced. There were some good deals. These fruits were in a cold room.
There were cut fruits on offer as well.
Wholesale flowers were similarly affordably priced.
There was a Ryan’s Grocer and Pet Lovers’ Centre on the same level as well.
Level 3 to 8 are offices and car parks.
Level 9 is titled “Speciality Gardening”
This area is not airconditioned and you can find things like outdoor landscaping items, barbeque sets and aquarium sets.
This is the Sky Garden on level 10.
Here you can find outdoor plants and trees.
In conclusion, this place replaces all other nurseries for me. If I am looking for floral and gardening items I will visit Far East Flora Mall. I just need to remember to have my meal before heading down.