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Sunday, March 3, 2024
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Don Don Donki Tiong Bahru Plaza

Don Don Donki latest branch addition see a new store opening this month at Tiong Bahru Plaza in Singapore, one is greeted by a unique Japanese street-themed store tucked away on the third floor of the heartland mall. Let’s take a walkthrough and explore of the store today.

Firstly, Don Don Donki, or Don Quijote as it is known in Japan is a popular discount chain that sells a large selection of goods. They first opened their first branch in Singapore on 2017. Their goods ranges from groceries and household items to electronics and cosmetics. In Japan, it is tad of a hypermarket, with the offerings in Singapore toned down quite a fair bit. If you are curious, you can check out my visit one such mega store in Japan previously, particularly a large Don Quijote with a ferris wheel in Osaka.

Welcome to the 18th donki branch here at Tiong Bahru.
Welcome to the 18th donki branch here at Tiong Bahru.

Wow, the 18th Donki store in Singapore

To date, Donki already has 17 branches operating in Singapore, each with a different theme and layout. Here, the branch at Tiong Bahru Plaza, which opened in January 2024, is themed after a Japanese street, with colorful signs and lanterns decorating the store. Also, this 18th store here in Tiong Bahru, the next closest branches being 100am at Tanjong Pagar or Harbourfront Center.

Moreover, this Tiong Bahru Plaza store occupies the space previously held by a popular bookstore, which vacated its premises last year for extensive renovations on the mall’s third floor, including a revamp of the adjacent Kopitiam food court. At first impressions, this Don Don Donki branch is notably smaller, making it a quick and easy exploration compared to some of the larger counterparts.

Lots of food selections freshly prepared daily.
The Bento selections here at the new Don Don Donki Tiong Bahru Plaza is pretty extensive, with food freshly prepared daily.
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Don Pen merchandise
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Quirky accessories
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Cosmetics

A Japanese sweet fest first, supermarket second

Upon entering the store, a departure from the usual Don Don Donki layout is evident. Instead of the typical supermarket entrance, visitors are greeted by a dry food section, featuring confectionery and non-food items.

Variety of Kitkat flavours previously only available in Japan.
Kitkat in variety of exotic flavours previously only available in Japan.

Also, the dry goods aisle here within boasts a variety of biscuits, sweets, and crackers. Notably, there is also an extensive selection of exotic KitKat flavors, such as matcha, sake, and strawberry cheesecake, which are usually only available for purchase in Japan.

Confectionery cakes and snacks.
Confectionery cakes and snacks, including options not commonly found in Singapore and are Japan-imported.
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Snacks and crackers
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Biscuits
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Snacks

As you walk further into the store, you will come upon Japan-imported confectionery and non-food sections. Items here include drinks, liquors, cosmetics, stationery, and other miscellaneous items. The alcohol section here is pretty extensive with a mix of canned highballs, whisky and sake to name a few.

Sake selections are quite extensive.
Sake selections are quite extensive.
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Canned alcohol
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Drinks section
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Adult zone

Additionally, there is also a quirky adult section, separated with small curtains, where you can find various naughty products, such as cosmetics, toys, and magazines. Throughout the store, adorable artwork featuring Don Pen, the blue penguin, serves as illustrations for various products on sale.

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Toy corner
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Toy section
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Children themed

Unlike larger Don Don Donki stores, the toy section is limited, featuring a small rainbow-decorated aisle with two shelves showcasing figures and Donki-specific merchandise. The store layout follows a linear fashion, with a clear entrance and exit leading to the cashier and self-checkout counters.

The toys section is interestingly themed with rainbows.
The toys section is interestingly themed with rainbows.

Also, exiting from the entrance is not uncommon to avoid backtracking through the cashier area. However, if you do that, you might miss the supermarket section, which is only accessible from the exit.

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Udon and Ramen
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Noodles and dry goods
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Supermarket and dailies.

Small curated supermarket section

Midway into the store, the supermarket section unfolds. Also, the supermarket section is the highlight of every Donki, this branch here is no exception, offering a wide range of fresh and frozen food, such as meat, fish, seafood, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and ready-to-eat meals.

The supermarket produce section.
The supermarket produce section.

Staple selections here includes shabu-shabu sliced beef and competitively priced snow crab legs at $40 per box. Also, in typical Donki fashion, the supermarket is densely packed, yet the walkways remain spacious enough for wheelchair and mobility device accessibility.

Shabu shabu sliced meats in chillers.
Shabu shabu sliced meats in chillers.

In contrast to other Don Don Donki branches, the greens and vegetable produce section is smaller, curated in response to the presence of other supermarkets in the same mall.

Vegetable chillers selling premium selections.
Vegetable chillers selling premium selections.

The selection includes seasonal and premium Japanese fruits and vegetables, like melons, leeks and mushrooms. The meat, fish, delicatessen, and daily bento food counter offers frozen selections of sliced pork and beef which you can use for a hotpot at home.

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Collagen Nabe
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Seasonal items
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Greens and produce

Impressive Bento selection

Moreover, the supermarket also has a delicatessen and a daily bento counter. Within the chilled counters, you can find freshly prepared sushi and sashimi. At a central counter with heated lamps you can find tempura, yakitori, onigiri, and other Japanese favourites quick bento meals.

The bento hot food selections are extensive.
The bento hot food selections are extensive.
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Fresh seafood
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Affordable King and snow crabs
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Checkout counters

The extensive bento section, situated towards the end of the supermarket area, offers an impressive array of options, including chicken karaage (fried chicken), grilled fish, and grilled salmon rice, reminiscent of convenience store bento sets in Japan. The selection has a great variety, probably to make up for the lack of a Donki food court here.

Deli counters with quick bites and sushi.
Deli counters with quick bites and sushi.

Moreover, the meals are reasonably priced, typically falling within the $10 range. You can either take it away or eat it at the nearby seating area. There is also an ice cream and sweet potato machine for your snacking fix.

Sweet potatoes available all-day.
Sweet potatoes available all-day and stored in heater ovens. The area here smells of sweet potato aroma.

Wrapping up

Interestingly, the exit of the supermarket leads directly into a Kopitiam food court, which is a local-style food court that serves a variety of cuisines, such as Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Western. Signs sternly warn against bringing outside food from Don Don Donki for consumption into the Kopitiam food court area.

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Store exit
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Into Kopitiam food court
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Store map

However, thankfully, you are not left high and dry here- despite not having a Japanese food court seen in most Donkis like the one at Clark Quay Central Mall, there is still a small seating area near the exit with tables and chairs for consuming Donki-purchased bento sets. A microwave is provided for reheating meals, and a Japanese store called Wagyu Kushi offers small bites like yakitori sticks and drinks as accompaniments for Donki-bought bento sets.

Wagyu Kushi store selling small bites
Wagyu Kushi store selling small bites such as yakitori sticks and drinks.

To wrap up the exploration, Don Don Donki at Tiong Bahru Plaza (located at #03-115) is open daily from 10 am to 11 pm. As Don Pen continues its unstoppable march in Singapore since its inception in 2017, the small but interesting branch captivates customers with unique offerings and innovative themes, offering a glimpse of Japanese street culture and products. It is a great place to visit if you are looking for some unique and affordable Japanese food items, or if you just want to have some fun and explore.

Other Donki branches we explored to date:

  1. Orchard central
  2. 100am mall
  3. City Square
  4. Square 2
  5. Clark Quay central
  6. JEM
  7. Harbourfront
  8. Downtown east
  9. JCube
  10. Suntec
  11. Tampines One
  12. Waterway Mall
  13. Northpoint Mall
  14. Waterway Mall
  15. Jurong Point
  16. Jewel Changi
  17. Paya Lebar Quarters
  18. Tiong Bahru Plaza

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