The beautiful, historic-rich Joo Chiat/Katong neighbourhood is often admired for its colourful rows of Peranakan (Straits-born people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage) shophouses. What you might not know: this neighbourhood is as loved for its variety of food options as it is for its architecture.
So take your taste buds on a culinary adventure. Go local and seek out Singapore-style food, suss out the burger joints or one of the many gems serving international cuisine with the help of this food trail.
Eat like the locals do
Start your culinary excursion at East Coast Road. Your first stop: 328 Katong Laksa, for laksa (spicy coconut milk-based noodle soup). This stall famously competed against British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay in 2013 and won with its signature dish. Its creamy gravy is prepared with shrimp paste, coconut milk and cockles, to produce that piquant and rich flavour that locals love.
Move on to Glory Catering for Peranakan-style kueh (bite-sized snacks or desserts). These colourful bites are usually made of rice or glutinous flour, along with ingredients such as tapioca, coconut milk and gula melaka (palm sugar). The must-tries: kueh lapis (layered steamed cake) and kueh tutu (steamed cakes with crushed peanut or grated coconut filling).
Still got an appetite? Then head over to Beach Road Prawn Mee Eating House, for prawn noodle soup. This eatery first started as a small stall on Beach Road and is famed for its broth cooked with hints of pork and prawns. The sweet-savoury signature dish of prawn noodles continues to be a hit today.
Alternatively, try wanton mee (noodles with dumplings) at Fei Fei Wanton at Joo Chiat Place. This hawker stall is open 24 hours daily, which makes it a popular supper spot with locals.
Further down the road is Kim’s Place Seafood. Try chilli crab and other seafood dishes like Hokkien prawn mee (stir-fried prawn noodles), the dish that is the restaurant's claim to fame.
How about some Peranakan food? Make your way to Guan Hoe Soon Restaurant, which specialises in authentic Peranakan cuisine. First opened in 1953, this restaurant continues to serve the spicy-savoury dishes such as ayam buah keluak (chicken braised with tamarind gravy and black nuts indigenous to Southeast Asia).
An international feast
Good news for foodies: this historic district is home to a variety of international cuisines, too.
Be sure to visit Smokey’s BBQ, an American-style smokehouse and grill that’s known for its buffalo chicken nuggets and smoked baby back ribs. Tucked between rows of shophouses, this casual restaurant is a popular go-to for families living in the area.
Those in search of quintessentially Vietnamese food should visit Long Phung for beef pho (noodle soup), rice paper rolls and other Vietnamese-style street food. You’ll find this place filled with brisk business late at night, as the eatery stays open until midnight.
Next on the list is Fatboy’s The Burger Bar, a local chain that serves burgers with handmade patties and unusual toppings, as well as other hearty mains. Adventurous diners can opt to ‘build’ their own burgers; there are over 25 toppings, four types of buns, 11 sauces and various patties to choose from for your customised order.
In the mood for quesadillas and burritos? Check out the Mexican-inspired menu at Lower East Side Taqueria. Try the ‘hotness challenge’ if you dare; your tacos will be served on the house should you successfully stomach the fiery sauces. Or order modern riffs on local cuisine at Sinpopo, a café bedecked with vintage knick-knacks and furniture.
If those hearty dishes aren’t your cup of tea, why not end your day at British restaurant-café Rabbit Carrot Gun. You’ll find platters of antipasti, sandwiches as well as salads, quiches and cakes. It also offers accommodation for weary travellers who get to wake up to eggs, pancakes, muesli and other brunch dishes!
Inspired to hop on a gastronomic journey in Joo Chiat/Katong soon? Check out more cafés and eateries in the neighbourhood.