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Lucky Plaza

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Situated right in the heart of the Orchard Road shopping district, Lucky Plaza is the unofficial hub for the Filipino diaspora in Singapore.

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From the exterior, Lucky Plaza looks dated, but step inside this mini-Manila and you’ll be surprised at some of the treasures you’ll find. While it doesn’t have the swank of Ngee Ann City or Ion<, if you’re in downtown Orchard, stop by and check out how the Pinoys shop.


Lucky Plaza isn’t the most swanky of malls, but finds its niche on Orchard Road.

The interior of the mall is bright and shiny with glass lifts and a central open space. No Gucci here, but you’ll find Asian-branded casual wear. There are thrift stores aplenty and make sure to check out the top-floor flea market, which has a lost in time feel to it. You’ll be surprised to find family-owned, neighbourhood-style grocery stores selling imported produce from the Philippines such as fresh and dried mangoes, cheese snacks and chicharrones (deep-fried crispy pork rinds).

Common finds at a Lucky Plaza grocery store - fresh mangoes from the Philippines, cheese snacks, pork rinds hanging from a hook and prepaid mobile SIM cards for the diaspora working in Singapore.

Fresh mangoes from the Philippines, deep-fried pork hanging and prepaid mobile SIM cards.

In the mix are hair and beauty salons named after the likes of Iloilo, a province in the Philippines from which many domestic helpers hail and some pubs and dodgy-looking spas (skip the latter).

You may not have heard of Sarah Geronimo, but she's a Filipino singing sensation.

You may not have heard of Sarah Geronimo, but she’s a Filipino singing sensation.

Given the downtown location, there are the usual tourist traps selling electronic gadgets targeting foreign visitors and several moneychangers as well, while you’ll see queues at various remittance houses where overseas Filipinos send money home.

No Gucci, Pradas and Dior here - but you'll be assured of budget finds.

No Gucci, Prada and Dior here – but you’ll be assured of budget finds.

It’s the food that steals the show at Lucky Plaza, with a high concentration of eateries with excellent options at low prices. The Lucky Plaza food court offers Filipino favourites and a meal can easily be found for S$3.50. Singaporeans in the know will check out stalwarts such as Alison Eating House, which serves up delicious duck and roast meat dishes. Nearby, banquet distributor Rabbit Brand has set meals featuring products such as abalone and bird’s nest at a steal. You’ll find long queues at excellent bakery Inasal, which sells coconut-based desserts and Spanish-influenced pastries; order the ubiquitous Spanish flan here for a sweet treat. Other excellent non-Filipino food options include Ayam Penyet Ria, a range of local Chinese food joints and fast food outlets.

Alison's is an institution serving up excellent Chinese roast meat noodles  - and Singaporeans in the know weave through the Filipino stores in Lucky Plaza to find it.

Alison’s is an institution serving up excellent Chinese roast meat noodles.

On the top floor lies a Filipino insitution that must not be missed, if it’s not a Sunday and the queue is tolerable. Jollibee, a fast food restaurant from the Philippines, serves up dishes not found in most other fast food places. With rice meals, many kids options and hamburger sticks, there always seems to be a queue out the door. Head to the smaller outlet in the basement food court for quicker service.

Jollibee is a Filipino institution - look at the queues.

A Filipino institution — look at the queue!

A word of caution: the Sunday crowds can be overwhelming as this is traditionally the day off for domestic workers.

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