When I heard that there was a wholesale market on the third level of the Albert Centre Market and Food Centre, I felt really gutted for not knowing about it earlier. I had been to this part of Bugis umpteen times and often had meals in the vicinity too but yet I didn’t know a dried goods market actually existed here. Really had that 相逢恨晚 feeling! But it’s better late than never because this place is pretty cool, lol.
Why is it so? The moment I stepped out from the lift, I was greeted by this busy festive atmosphere.
It was a weekday evening and the market was still so noisy and crowded with customers.
Most of the tenants there were dried goods suppliers or dried seafood/tonic product shops. And outside every shop, there would be a display of different products in plastic bags. For those items that are sold by weight, people would just dip their hands into the bags and grab samples to try and the shopkeepers would not stop anyone from doing it. I was at one particular shop and I wasn’t quite sure if I could try the various dried cuttlefish there but one lady customer was telling me that I could try whatever I want before I buy and indeed, she was right. Even if I didn’t want to try, someone would just gesture to me and ask me to sample some of their products. I guess it’s because there are so many shops that are selling the same stuffs so there is some kind of stiff competition going on and everyone is just being so friendly and welcoming and expects customers to sample freely. Honestly, I felt spoilt while shopping there, lol.
Besides being a nuts haven and seeds paradise, there were plenty of Chinese New Year candies, jellies, tidbits, snacks and goodies on sale too. Saw a lot of keropok and crisps as well.
And this was the dried fish snack section where I took my first samples. The lady boss I met took time to explain the different types of these dried fish – cod fish, threadfin, octopus and cuttlefish. The cod fish (white colour) and the threadfin (brown colour) tasted exactly like the usual cuttlefish. I was told that the sliced ones (in the foreground) that resembled ginger slices were made from scallop and cuttlefish but I remembered one shop at Victoria Wholesale Centre (VWS) mentioned that it was made from octopus. Anyway, the price for this scallop/cuttlefish or octopus snack is about $5 per kg cheaper here than VWS.
There were the usual dried provisions like various beans, dried shrimps, mushrooms, scallops, various nuts, dried sea cucumber and so much more.
I bought dried whole apricots at $6/500g, dried threadfin shreds ($5.50/300g) and dried octopus slices ($10/300g). Do note the more you buy, the cheaper the price. For example, 100g of octopus slices was $3.50 for 100g, $10 for 300g and $30 for 1kg.
I didn’t realise until later that the shops do use nicer looking plastic packaging (with their brand logo on it and then properly sealed too) so if you’re buying something as a gift, do request for the more presentable packaging like below.
I also bought pecans at $22/kg, almonds at $22/kg and cashews at $18/kg. This lot wasn’t the cheapest I saw at the market because for almost every type of nut, there could be different grades and origins. The cheapest I saw for almonds was $15/kg if I recalled correctly. I suggest that you sample everything first and then decide which to go for because a more expensive one doesn’t mean it’s more tasty than a cheaper one. Also, since there are so many shops selling the same stuffs in the market, it’s always good to look around first before zooming in on specific shops if you have the time to spare.
I couldn’t find figs in the first few shops I went but managed to find them in a shop at a quiet corner. These were going at $6 for 500g. What a deal!
I really liked this wholesale market not just for its variety of products but because the prices are really competitive (at least 20-40% cheaper than supermarket retail price). The items are all so fresh like newly arrived stock. As I was able to sample the products before purchasing, there wasn’t a need to worry that the quality or taste was inferior because they were all good.
This place is also so much more accessible than VWS and it has a lively atmosphere which is so much more welcoming and fun. The husband said we should come back once a month to stock up on nuts, lol. I often do overnight oats for our breakfast, that’s why we want an assortment of nuts and seeds to go with it.
Anyway I’m going back in a week’s time to stock up on CNY tidbits and will share a follow up post about it. I want more of that cashew nuts I bought. They were so good, they were gone in 2 days! Can’t wait!
Happy shopping, folks!
Albert Centre Wholesale Market (3rd floor)
270 Queen Street
Opening hours: 8.00am to 8.30pm daily
Interested in more wholesale shopping? Read my post on Victoria Wholesale Centre that has a trove of Chinese New Year tidbits & snacks, dried provisions, party supplies and more. Free shuttle bus service from Kallang MRT is now available for the CNY season till 16 February 2015.
Found another gem on Hong Kong Street too that sells not just frozen seafood, canned products and traditional Chinese food stuffs, there’s a good selection of dried fruits, nuts and seeds too. Check out my post on Wholesale Nuts & Seeds from Teck Sang.