Friday, July 20, 2012

Awesome Town Centres Part 3: Hougang Central Town Centre

In the last installment of the Awesome Town Centres series, I will talk about the town centre that is located in Hougang called Hougang Central Town Centre. If you don't know, Hougang is a big neighbourhood and there are different town centres in the area. There's the Kovan City Town Centre in Hougang St 21, Hougang Neighbourhood 6 Town Centre in Hougang Ave 8, Hougang Central Town Centre in Hougang Central and many more. If you see this article for the first time and don't know what the heck is a town centre, don't worry because you can refer to the first Awesome Town Centres article here where I'll explain what is a town centre. Without further ado, let me give you a short tour of this town centre.

Getting to Hougang Central Town Centre is easy. Just right opposite the town centre is the Hougang Central Bus Interchange and Hougang MRT Station. All you have to do is to cross the road at the traffic junction provided and there, you have reached the town centre.

The Hougang Central Town Centre also has a personality on its own. It's slightly smaller than Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh Town Centres and I realised that there's no central place where there's a big walkway in the middle and two low rise HDB flats are surrounding it. However, there are still a wide array of shops located at the void deck of the low rise flats. The array of shops include a store selling bed sheets and foldable beds, a new and used phone shop, several coffee shops, convenience stores, bakeries and so much more. There are so many shops where you can buy stuff at a very cheap price.

I still remembered this part of the town centre. This town centre used to house a Malay-Muslim coffee shop and my mother always used to buy me porridge right over here. I can't remember which year was that. I think it was when I was still in kindergarten. That was such a long time ago. Now, the coffee shop is no longer there although there are various coffeeshops around the town centre if you're looking for something affordable to eat.


Another unique thing about Hougang Central is this open field. Okay, sure open fields aren't interesting and they're just a giant patch of grass. However, this open field near the junction of Hougang Ave 5, Upper Serangoon Road and Hougang Central used to house a full-fledged bus interchage. It was actually the old Hougang Central Bus Interchange before it moved to its current premises further up Hougang Central. It used to be integrated with the nearby Hougang Plaza shopping centre but now, it's integrated directly with Hougang MRT Station. Also back then, the old Hougang Central Bus Interchange used to have lots of bus services. Most of them don't terminate here anymore and most have been withdrawn. There are still some in the current interchange right now. If you want to see how it looks like, there are plenty of pictures of the old interchange on the internet.

It's great that even though the town centre has low rise HDB flats, they still have some space to fit in a multi-storey carpark. Something that Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio Town Centres do not have. The design of the HDB flats look simple and looks a little bit like a regular HDB flat.

Remember the shopping mall that I mentioned just now and used to be integrated with the old bus interchange? This is the one. It's called Hougang Plaza and it's located right next to the secondary school known as Holy Innocents' High. It's a basic and relatively quiet shopping mall with a food court, an Indian-Muslim coffeeshop, public massage chairs, Shop N Save Supermarket and so much more. Not a lot of people were there and unlike regular shopping malls, most of the shops are located outside and there's no air-con.

I do like how the mall looks like and I think, it should be upgraded to bring in more customers. It seriously needs a makeover but I think the exterior should remain as it is. Do give your support to this mall if you happen to live near it.

Moving on, I continued my tour around the low-rise flats that surround the Hougang Central Town Centre. More shops selling affordable stuff can be found. There was also a mini shopping mall located adjacent to the existing Hougang Mall called Kang Kar Mall. I'm not really sure what Kang Kar means but I do know that it's a mall with two levels and its tenants include NTUC FairPrice and Kopitiam. It's quite weird considering that there's already another NTUC supermarket in Hougang Mall and that there's another Kopitiam coffeeshop in Hougang Plaza. However, there are some small shops located outside the building selling stuff like snacks, bubble tea and fruit juices. I like the design of the mini shopping mall.

Right after the Kang Kar Mall, there's one big sheltered open space mainly used for events called Hougang Central Hub. When there are no events taking place, the general public use this as a giant shelter to get to Hougang MRT Station while teens sit on the stage with their friends and have casual conversations among each other. Just right behind Hougang Central Hub is a small market selling all kinds of produce. One of the stall sells durians which are fruits that Singaporeans love and enjoy. However, there one was one durian stall selling tiny durians at S$1 each in a dirty basket. Not sure if it's a suitable thing to buy. I rather pay more for a bigger and better durian.

Okay, I was wrong. There is actually a central place in the town centre which is this. It's just next to the traffic junction that leads to the bus interchange and MRT station. Although, the central place is quite small compared to the ones at Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh. Plenty of seats can be found although I don't recommend you to sit here as it's very noisy due to the market next to it. There is also a Cheers convenience store right over here for your convenience.

If you're tired of looking and exploring around the town centre, there is Hougang Mall. Hougang Mall is a popular mall among Hougang residents and just like regular malls, there are a wide range of shops, restaurants, food establishments and so much more in an air-conditioned environment. I stumbled upon the play area at the top most level of the mall and caught great views of the Hougang Ave 10 and 6 area. The play area was also fun although it's more appropriate for younger children. Fortunately, it didn't break when I tried to play with the equipments at the play area.

The mall is a very lovely mall with a great interior design. The mall's interior did not really change that much ever since I was a child. I still remembered there was a huge array of CRT television sets at the first level of the mall and an extension to NTUC FairPrice at the 2nd level of the mall where Subway is located right now. Surprisingly, the Cheng San Public Library still looks the same except for some minor design differences.

Like many Singaporeans, I love durians. The moment I sink my teeth into the durian fruit flesh, I can't get enough of its sweet and custard-y texture. At the basement right outside the NTUC Supermarket is a durian stall called Durian Mpire selling all kinds of durian pastries like pancakes, crepes, cakes and so much more. It's too bad nobody patronised the stall so I decided to give them some business by ordering 3 Durian Pancakes at S$2 each.

Durian Mpire Durian Pancake S$2

Their Durian Pancake to be honest, didn't really taste nice. The durian filling was too custard-y and the pancake itself was too soft until some of the filling came out easily. It was very difficult for me to eat them. I didn't really like the pancake itself but I do like the filling because I could still taste the authentic durian flesh flavour. I would like the pancake to be fluffier if possible next time. If you want a Durian Pancake, I recommend you to get it from somewhere else. On the other hand, I would like to try their other pastries like the Durian Crepe so you should give it a try and let me know what you think. If Durian's your thing, do patronise this stall, I highly recommend it. Just don't get the pancake. However, as of December 2012, Durian Mpire at Hougang Mall closed down and replaced with another foodstall.

It was time to leave Hougang Central Town Centre and before I left for the bus stop, I took this amazing sight of the sunset. It's nice isn't it? I think if I were I to have a DSLR right now, I could probably take a better photo of this scenery.

That is all for my tour of Hougang Central Town Centre. The town centre is located in the heart of Hougang and it's the place to get cheap goods like food, clothes, hardware and so much more. Like other town centres, there are plenty of coffeeshops to choose from if you're hungry and want something to eat. It's easily accessible using the Hougang Central Bus Interchange and Hougang MRT Station which are directly opposite the town centre. Thankfully, I live near the town centre. However, it's still quite far from where I live. The Kovan City Town Centre is the nearest to my house. Do drop by Hougang Central Town Centre if you have the time. I can assure you that you will enjoy your visit to the town centre. This is the last entry to the Awesome Town Centres series. Do check out my previous entries to the series and see if you live near the town centres. Town centres are great alternatives to mainstream shopping malls and they sell much cheaper items than in shopping malls.

Durian Mpire at Hougang Mall is HALAL certified

Update: Durian Mpire at Hougang Mall has closed as of December 2012

The Awesome Town Centres Series 

Part 1: Ang Mo Kio Town Centre 

Part 2: Toa Payoh Town Centre 

Part 4: Bukit Merah Town Centre

Getting Here 

Bus services available: Bus services from Hougang Central Bus Interchange

Nearest MRT Station: NE14 Hougang MRT Station (North East Line)


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