How Singapore has missed thee and your well-stocked shelves, Mustafa Centre.
After it emerged in early April that Mustafa Centre was a cluster for Covid-19 cases, the 24-hour megamall was shut for more than a month for professional disinfection. While most supermarkets did roaring business as shoppers stocked up on essentials and groceries, Mustafa – known as the mecca for coveted baking ingredients as well as vegetarian staples – was forced to sit out on the biggest nationwide grocery run of all time.
Channel News Asia reported that as of May 3, there have been 124 cases linked to the Mustafa cluster. Mustafa has reopened its supermarket since May 6, but are you wondering whether it is safe to shop there? Is the current selection of goods enticing enough to make a trip there worth your while?
We paid a visit on Friday (May 15) and here’s what we found out.
Yes, there’s instant yeast here, but no Philly cream cheese
Let’s cut to the chase. You’d probably want to know if there’s dry instant yeast, Philadelphia cream cheese, and Bob’s Red Mill organic flours. The answer is yes, no, and yes/no.
At 8pm on May 15, there was no sign of Bake King Instant Yeast; Saf-Instant Dry Baker’s Yeast was sold out; but if you don’t mind trying an unfamiliar brand, you can buy 500g of Yowe Instant Dry Yeast for only $4.30.
There was no Philadelphia cream cheese in the fridge, sorry to disappoint. But other than that, all other dairy and cheese products, including the vegan options, were in stock.
Bakers would also be wondering if their favourite Bob’s Red Mill flours were available. Sadly, only the pastry flours were found on the shelves, and the bread flours and all-purpose flour were nowhere to be seen.
So, what is available at Mustafa Supermarket?
In stock: Basmati rice, spices, tinned tomatoes, canned food
Obviously, shoppers have returned to Mustafa Supermarket in droves to buy popular essentials. So what else is there left to buy? Plenty.
There are sacks of basmati rice, Indian stoneground wheat flour (that you can use for baking bread and fermenting sourdough starter), tinned tomatoes, the full selection of McCormick’s dried spices, all manner of canned food (even the good sardines), UHT milk, and of course, given the Ramadan season: dates.
The confectionery section is also open and freshly baked breads and cream cakes are available. Mustafa is probably one of the few rare places in Singapore where you can buy an emergency cream cake past 10pm. Oh by the way, Mustafa’s new opening hours are from 11am to 11.30pm nowadays.
Oh yes, you can also get face masks and infrared thermometers here. Bulk price is available.
But is it safe to visit?
When Mustafa announced that it would reopen, it naturally would have received clearance from the authorities, including the National Environment Agency and the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force.
Only the supermarket on level 2 and level 3 (new wing) is open and all other sections have been cordoned off. Shoppers can only access the mall via Entrance/Exit 3, which faces Verdun Road and is on the same side of the street as the Mustafa travel agency (now temporarily closed). Before entering, shoppers must log in to Safe Entry and go through an infrared scan. At the door, each shopper is given a pair of disposable plastic gloves to wear. Needless to say, face masks must be worn at all times. When you exit, you must check out of Mustafa via Safe Entry again.
When Alvinology.com visited on Friday night, two social distancing ambassadors were stationed at the entrance while a couple more were seen patrolling the aisles.
Mustafa Centre had not undergone any renovation during the month-long hiatus, but the interiors looked drastically different because every surface was squeaky clean, and the aisles were free of clutter. All the fresh produce from before the closure had obviously been tossed out, and their receptacles thoroughly cleaned.
The section of the supermarket (the space which connects the old wing to the new one) used to display dried dates is usually cluttered with stacks and stacks of dates at this time of year, but not this time. All shelf space is utilised to the max and some of the stock of Medjool dates have been moved to the shelves near the fish.
Do note that both the basement carpark and the multistorey carpark of Mustafa Centre are closed. If you are driving there, you will need to park in a street parking lot. There are plenty of parallel parking lots in the adjacent streets like Sam Leong Road and Syed Alwi Road.
If you are headed there by taxi or private hire car, direct the driver to the Verdun Road entrance. If taking MRT, get off at Farrer Park station and walk in the direction of PARKROYAL Hotel for the fastest way to get to the current entrance of Mustafa Centre.
Also, please take note that its new opening hours are now from 11am to 11.30pm.
What did you manage to find at Mustafa Supermarket? Tell us in the comments!