Escape to the East
Katong and Joo Chiat, two neighbourhoods in eastern Singapore, were home to wealthy Peranakans – Straits Chinese people of mixed Chinese and Malay heritage – and Eurasian families. The area brims with their cultural legacy in the form of conserved shophouses, museums and shops. There is also a good selection of traditional eateries and contemporary bars and restaurants.
Chin Mee Chin Confectionery
This coffee shop with decades of history serves a traditional breakfast of soft-boiled eggs, toast slathered with kaya (a local spread made with eggs, sugar, coconut and pandan leaves), and thick fragrant kopi (traditional coffee). It still toasts its bread over a charcoal fire.
Address: 204 East Coast Road, Singapore 428903
Tel: (65) 6345 0419
Opening hours: Tue-Sun, 8:30am–4pm
Kim Choo Kueh Chang
Established in 1945, this shop made its name by making Peranakan rice dumplings, which contain diced lean pork and candied winter melon. It also sells a variety of Peranakan sweet cakes, sauces and condiments.
Address: 60 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427784
Tel: (65) 6344 0830
Opening hours: Mon–Sun, 7.30am–9.30pm
Katong laksa is a dish of rice noodles in a soup made with coconut milk, dried shrimps and spices and inspired by the Peranakans. Its defining characteristic is the noodles: thick vermicelli cut into shorter pieces that can be easily slurped up with a spoon.
As popularity of the dish picked up, competing stalls had opened along the same stretch in the district. With each claiming to be the original, a turf war (or Laksa war) soon brewed in the late 1990s. Things have cooled down since but you will still find two stalls along East Coast Road, including 328 Katong Laksa which received the Michelin Bib Gourmand award in 2016.
Original Katong Laksa
50 East Coast Road #01-64 Roxy Square, Singapore 428769
Tel: (65) 9622 1045
Opening hours: Mon-Sun, 8.30am-5.30pm
328 Katong Laksa
51 East Coast Road, Singapore 428770
Tel: (65) 9732 8163
Opening hours: Mon–Sun, 10am–10pm
This Indian restaurant received the Michelin Bib Gourmand award in 2016 for its high-quality food at a reasonable price. While it sports a contemporary decor, it serves traditional Indian food, including the noteworthy chicken tikka (skewers of chicken cooked in a Tandoor oven) and Seekh mutton kebab (minced mutton seasoned in aromatic spices and grilled). Complete your meal with a glass of lassi (traditional yoghurt-based drink) or South Indian filter coffee.
Address: 135/137 East Coast Road, Singapore 428820
Tel: (65) 6440 6786
Opening hours: Mon–Thu, 11:30am–10pm; Fri–Sun, eve of public holidays and public holidays, 11:30am–11pm. Closed Mon–Fri, 3pm–5pm
Guan Hoe Soon
Known to be one of Singapore’s oldest Peranakan restaurants, Guan Hoe Soon Restaurant has been serving authentic Peranakan cuisine since 1953. The restaurant is set in an idyllic atmosphere and the original taste of Peranakan cuisine has been preserved here.
Address: 38/40 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427762
Tel: (65) 6344 2761
Opening hours: Mon – Sun, 11am – 3pm, 6 – 9.30pm
Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong
One of the newest boutique hotels in the country, Hotel Indigo has vibrant decor imbued with Peranakan character. The lobby, for example, features a typical patterned marble floor of a Peranakan shophouse, while some of its rooms are painted with murals depicting scenes from a kopitiam (local coffee shop).
Address: 86 East Coast Road, Singapore 428788
Tel: 1800 787 1221 / (65) 6723 7001
Village Hotel Katong by Far East Hospitality
This local hotel group transformed an old hotel into a Peranakan-themed establishment. Its 229 rooms are brimming with colourful furniture and Straits Chinese design accents.
Address: 25 Marine Parade, Singapore 449536
Tel: (65) 6344 2200 (Hotel) / (65) 6881 8888 (Reservations)
SEE & DO
Katong Antique House
A private museum in a restored shophouse, Katong Antique House is a repository of all things Peranakan. The traditional furniture, heirlooms, crockery, tableware, clothing and jewellery here are all painstakingly collected by owner Peter Wee. A fourth-generation Peranakan, Mr Wee gives private tours of the museum.
Address: 208 East Coast Road, Singapore 428907
Tel: (65) 6345 8544
Opening hours: Mon–Sun, 11am–4:30pm. Entry and tours by appointment only.
You can buy traditional kebaya (Peranakan traditional embroidered top) and other merchandise such as porcelain ware and jewellery at this boutique store within a conserved 1928 shophouse. Dedicated to preserving the way of life of the Peranakan, Rumah Bebe also offers beading classes – beading for shoes, on a velvet pouch or advanced three-dimensional bead work – and a tour of the premises.
Address: 113 East Coast Road, Singapore 428803
Tel: (65) 6247 8781
Opening hours: Tue–Sun, 9:30am–6:30pm
This is a private museum with a twist – its founder and owner, antique collector Alvin Yapp, lives here. Awarded Best Tour Experience at the Singapore Tourism Awards 2016 for its Intan Signature Tea Experience, The Intan is filled with Peranakan artefacts sourced globally, and Mr Yapp conducts private tours of his home museum.
Address: 69 Joo Chiat Terrace, Singapore 427231
Tel: (65) 6440 1148
Opening hours: Entry and tours by appointment only
Alibabar the Hawker Bar
Kopitiam by day, Alibabar the Hawker bar serves local favourites, including Hokkien mee (noodles stir-fried in a rich stock of prawns and pork bone), as well as steaks and burgers. After dark, it turns into a bar with more than 70 labels of imported craft beers.
Address: 125 East Coast Road, Singapore 428810
Tel: (65) 6440 6147
Opening hours: Sun–Thu, 8am–11:30pm; Fri–Sat, 8am–1:30am