A jaunt through Singapore's foodie enclave: Katong
The eastern seafront area of Katong didn't even exist until the late 1960s and now is home to a number of villas and mansions. But what it's best known for among locals is the food, a result of Katong's rich cultural mix.
Katong is well known for its restaurants serving Peranakan (Straits Chinese) cuisine, so we went for a slow, belt-loosening walk in this foodie enclave to pick out some of the best eating options.
Kim Choo's Kitchen
This beautiful, Peranakan institution on East Coast Road, intrigues from the outside with its cute little gift shop upstairs selling beaded delights and petite stall selling tasty dumplings.
The good: The oh-so-tender beef melts in your mouth and prompts you to order more off the menu including the babi pontay, or braised pork.
The not so good: The mackerel paste was recommended but can be rather slimy, which doesn't make for a great texture. The interiors whilst kitsch could do with an injection of color.
Price: Mains from S$8 to S$25
109/111 East Coast Road, Singapore. Tel +65 6741 2125. Open daily from 10am to 10pm.
Chin Mee Chin Confectionery
It feels like you’ve stepped back in time in this nostalgic, old-school, Singapore-style kopitiam (coffee shop) based in an historic shop house local. It’s just the sort of place you want to stay and linger over a coffee and muffins, and chat to the uncles and aunties running the place. For over 60 years, locals have been frequenting this authentic coffee shop.
The good: The toast slathered in butter and kaya. The bread is freshly baked each day, and the smell alone is enough to draw in customers. Boiled eggs and strong, thick coffee accompany this.
The not so good: Freshly baked goods sell out fast, so get there early.
Price: S$3 to S$10
204 East Coast Road, Singapore. Tel +65 6345 0419. Open Tues to Sun, from 7.30am to 4.30pm.
Famous 49 Katong Laksa
Where would Katong be without the laksa dish that's named after it? Famous 49 is one of the many katong laksa stores -- set in a quaint shop house in Katong, Famous 49 Katong Laksa also has another stall in East Coast Lagoon.
The good: Katong is the home of laksa. The most famous laksa stall in Singapore serves up creamy, spicy bowls of noodle goodness, topped with seafood and laksa leaves.
The not so good: It’s a little bit of a seedy stall and not for the picky, but when the food's this yummy, who cares?
Price: S$5 a bowl
49 East Coast Road, Singapore. Tel +65 63445101. Open from 8am to 7pm. Closed on alternate Mondays.
This slick restaurant in Joo Chiat serves up modern European fine-dining with an Asian twist.
The good: The stylish design including wooden flooring and stunning chandeliers. The pan-fried foie gras. The lobster bisque containing chunks of fresh lobster and salmon is also a star contender; an especially nice touch is having the soup ladled at the table.
The not so good: The customer service. Fine-dining and giggling waiters? There seems to be a lack of knowledge about the food, and it shows.
Price: Not so cheap. Oh well, fine-dining comes with a price tag. From S$98 to S$170.
45 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore. Tel +65 6440 0601. Open Tuesdays to Saturday 11am to 11pm, and Sunday from 11.30am to 3.30pm.
If you spot a long queue in Katong, you’ll know you’ve arrived at the original Aston’s. This Western style steak restaurant dishes up all the Wagyu you can fill up on -- at very affordable prices. Regulars have been coming here for years, and even though Aston’s Prime has opened around the corner (an upmarket version), you won’t see the same queue there.
The good: The Wagyu burger at S$10. Simply executed, a really top quality, juicy patty served between a fresh white bun. The sirloin steak is great value at S$11.90 and comes with a choice of two sides.
The not so good: The queue. As Mr Aston takes no bookings, you just have to get there early or face a wait.
Price: From S$7.90 to S$30
119/121 East Coast Road, Singapore. Tel +65 6247 7857. Open from 11.30am to 11pm, daily.
This tiny, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cake shop in Joo Chiat sells gourmet cheesecakes, desserts and -- the star of the show -- macaroons. Just a skip and a hop from several local art galleries, it makes for a lush afternoon treat.
The good: Simply put, it's macaroon heaven. Choose from creamy dark chocolate ganache, rose butter cream, salted butter caramel ganache or a myriad of other flavors, guaranteed to linger sweetly.
The not so good: Joo Chiat is not always too close to work, so if you want a sweet pick-me-up, you’ll have to stock up in advance.
Price: S$2.20 each for the macaroons. Worth every cent.
452 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore. Tel +65 6348 9791. Open from Tues to Sun; 11.30am to 10pm.
Everything with Fries
This bright white, chic-looking new café nestled along Joo Chiat Road serves up Western dishes with -- yes you’ve guessed it -- fries. Perfect for those burger cravings, or if you want to get stuck into some sweet puddings.
The good: The burgers are moist and seasoned well with tomato relish. The puddings are a hit; the hot banana and butterscotch pudding is sweet and chewy.
The not so good: Believe it or not, they could work on their main selling point; the fries. A more rustic approach using good thin or thick cut chips and homemade dips may be required to really nail it.
Price: S$9 to S$19.
458 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore. Tel +65 6345 5034. Open from Tues to Sun; noon to 10pm.