bookporn #38: the food edition, or, how I am a sucker for gimmicks

I am not generally a complete sucker for gimmicks. BUT.

Food Republic @ Suntec City

In Suntec City, a colossal, scrupulously modern shopping complex in Singapore, there lie the fruits of the labour of sheer genius. Behold, the Food Republic: a Singaporean hawker center made to look like a library.

Food Republic @ Suntec City

This is clearly a ploy: it is a pernicious, utterly unholy conspiracy to make me spend all my time and money eating there, despite the fact that it is 45 minutes by bus from where I live, on the other side of the island, and despite the fact that everything selling there is about 20% more expensive than your standard hawker fare.

Food Republic @ Suntec

Authentic library lamps!!!!! 1 bazillion points for effort. The only thing that arrests my irrational lust, which mingles uncertainly with my more general lust for hawker food, is that the books are, alas, not real:

Food Republic @ Suntec City

even when they are, in fact, three dimensional —

Food Republic @ Suntec City

Still, is it too much to ask that more restaurants cater in similarly imaginative ways to the violently rapturous bibliophiles among us? If you live in Singapore, I exhort you to go. If you visit Singapore, I will escort you myself. Any excuse.

NB: This is a largely aesthetic experience. The food is not the best you can get in Singapore, but that’s not saying much, since it is, after all, Singapore. If you want real food, you want to visit Kuala Lumpur.


7 responses to “bookporn #38: the food edition, or, how I am a sucker for gimmicks

  • Tim

    This is clearly a stroke of genius wedded to a missed opportunity. Why not sell magazines and books? You buy a book, eat lunch, read, and pick up groceries before you go home. Add a laundromat and movie theater and there would be little reason to go anywhere else, ever.

    My friends often talk about opening a bookstore bar — a bookstore grocery store with a cafe and books for sale is likewise pure genius.

  • Robin

    “Toast Box!”

    Makes you realize, doesn’t it, how so much of the appeal of a library or bookstore is the simple texture of it — the rows of similar-but-different things. I wonder if you could abstract it even further to make a space that didn’t even pretend to be full of books, but somehow gave you the same feeling…

    @Tim: Haha, I don’t know. Indie bookstores and indie coffee shops are two of the toughest businesses to keep going these days. Somehow I feel like combining them would not halve the difficult, but rather square it.

  • Belle

    Add in a wine bar, and I’m yours. As long as there are good tables, decent reading lights and comfortable chairs. I don’t ask much.

    Rachel, you’ve actually made me want to go back to S’pore! I didn’t know that was possible.

  • Rachel

    @ Tim & Robin: I was at a place in Yale that was sort of like that — food/cafe appended on to a bookshop and bakery (though no grocery) — it was quite wonderful. There are also two cafes/bars in Cambridge that are filled with books and board games, so it isn’t impossible (though admittedly, the books aren’t actually for sale: they’re aesthetic, and contentwise, kind of bad). MORE PLEASE

    @ Belle: There is in fact a place like what you’ve described, in Singapore; alas, so very upmarket & mostly unaffordable for the income challenged

  • yuen ming

    hehe ya, the food is not so great, altho the indian stall is not bad considering, I like to get teh tarik and murtabak there!

    thanks for the interesting writings on history, not much of that sort of thing here in singapore, hard to believe your singaporean

    keep up the gd work!

  • Anthony

    and like the food republic on orchard, you’ll get whisked off your bum before you reach the bottom of your bubbletea barrel, all because the brisk trade of conference-goers and downtown socialites leaves little time to ponder and much time to hover — hover, hover, ah – a table has just become free. bring a book next time and you’re guaranteed at least one scowl.

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