Holistic living at Mahota Commune’s new space

Mahota Commune houses a supermarket selling health food and organic produce, and a restaurant and a cafe serving organic fare.
Mahota Commune houses a supermarket selling health food and organic produce, and a restaurant and a cafe serving organic fare.ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI
Mahota Commune houses a supermarket selling health food and organic produce, and a restaurant and a cafe serving organic fare.
Mahota Commune houses a supermarket selling health food and organic produce, and a restaurant and a cafe serving organic fare.ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

Attend a meditation class, have a healthy meal and pick up organic groceries at a new multi-concept wellness store in Jalan Besar

Jalan Besar is home to hip coffee joints and cool restaurants. Now, Mahota Commune, a multi-concept wellness store, has opened in the neighbourhood.

It occupies a 20,000 sq ft space – the entire third floor of Kitchener Complex in French Road – that boasts a market stocking organic produce and health food, a restaurant and cafe using organic ingredients, and a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) clinic.

There is also an activity space hosting meditation classes and a rotating list of pop-up stalls promoting everything from fair- trade coffee to bicycles.

Mahota Commune is owned by Prime Group International, which owns Prime Supermarket. A stone’s throw from Lavender MRT station, the store officially opens today, though it has been welcoming customers since May 28.

When The Straits Times visited earlier this week, the place was teeming with customers shopping for groceries and people taking part in a meditation class.

Mahota Commune prides itself on its promotion of healthy living.

The Mahota Kitchen, which serves mainly Italian fare, has an organic hot-pot dish featuring its own organically grown produce. The chicken served is lacto chicken – reared without antibiotics or hormones – and the organic beef is from a sustainable source in Blackwood Valley in Western Australia.

All ingredients used in the kitchen can be purchased at the market.

Similarly at Mahota Pantry cafe, breads are made with unbleached, wholemeal flour and cold-pressed juices are made fresh each morning.

Mr Yongshao Tan, 35, a co-creator of Mahota Commune, says being growers themselves, the creators are big on providing good produce all year round.

He says: “We began looking for farming land in Singapore many years ago, but the leasing policy for agricultural land is not favourable for long-term investment.”

So they looked to China and started an organic farm in Shanghai four years ago, practising sustainable agriculture. The set-up has since grown to a supply chain that includes trading firms set up in Australia and Japan.

Mahota Market imports seasonal produce from the Mahota Farm in Shanghai twice a week.

Ms Valerie Tan, another co-creator, says: “Each time a customer comes to the store, different items will be on display.”

This week, for instance, there are three varieties of sweet potato.

The market also boasts a wine section housing one of Singapore’s largest collections of organic and biodynamic wines from Australia, France and Italy, as well as wines from Mahota’s vineyard in Penglai in China’s Shandong province.

But while produce originating from China has developed a reputation for being fake or pesticide-laden, Mr Tan is confident and proud of the group’s practices and sourcing methods.

He says: “All the farms are personally visited by our international sourcing teams. For China, in particular, we further reduce any risk of malpractice by importing only from our own organic farms.”

He adds that the Shanghai farm and Penglai vineyard are open to the public for tours and visits.

“We believe accountability and transparency have to go hand in hand,” he says.

To promote holistic living further, Mahota Commune hosts free meditation sessions on weekdays and paid yoga classes twice a week. The TCM clinic also provides massage therapy.

There are plans to set up a childcare centre and have it up and running by year end.

The reason for locating Mahota Commune in Kitchener Complex is partly sentimental.

Mr Tan says: “Number 809 French Road is a block away from 803 King George’s Avenue, where the first outlet of our sister company, Prime Supermarket, opened in 1984.”

There are 20 Prime Supermarket outlets here.

The location is also a practical choice as Kitchener Complex is surrounded by residential homes and offices.

A believer in holistic wellness, Mr Tan says: “We want to show people that this lifestyle is not out of reach. It’s not something you have to go to an exclusive place to get.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2016, with the headline 'Hip and healthy under one roof'. Print Edition | Subscribe