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Food at 328 Katong Laksa.

A guide to local favorites in Joo Chiat

Food at 328 Katong Laksa.
  • By Shibani Mahtani
  • Photos by Ore Huiying
Joo Chiat
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The pastel-colored shophouses, homes that resemble museums and traditional eateries here are a window into the rich culture of the Peranakans — the Straits-Chinese families who settled in British Malaya and intermarried with local Malays, forming rich traditions of their own. Joo Chiat today is home to cute new boutiques and some of the best food anywhere in the city, but it has managed to keep alive the culture of the unique ethnic group that once called this area home. Joo Chiat is also a short walk from Singapore’s East Coast, our palm-tree-lined eastern seafront.

Meet Shibani Mahtani

Shibani Mahtani is the Southeast Asia correspondent for The Washington Post, covering countries that include the Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia. She joined The Post's foreign desk in 2018 after seven years as a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in Southeast Asia and later in Chicago, where she covered the Midwest.

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Joo Chiat

See the Peranakan Houses
Start at Koon Seng Road (at the intersection with Joo Chiat Road) and explore the beautiful bungalows with their ornate facades and colorful ceramic tiles. The English-educated Peranakans were always somewhat of a privileged class and favored by the Europeans, as their old homes might hint. Take your time here, and bring your camera.
287 Joo Chiat Rd., Singapore 427540
328 Katong Laksa restaurant
This neighborhood was known for its laksa, noodles in a rich, coconut-based soup. You can find branches of this outlet across the city, but head to East Coast Road to experience the most original, Katong-style version. Don’t forget the otah, a spicy fish cake grilled in a banana leaf.
51 East Coast Rd., Singapore 428770
Cat Socrates
Meet the resident cats and shop for local souvenirs, such as Peranakan tile coasters and other little trinkets, at this cute boutique. It also carries books from Singaporean publishers Epigram and Math Paper Press.
448 Joo Chiat Rd., Singapore 427661
The Intan house
Don’t miss a tour of a meticulously preserved Peranakan home, now the shophouse residence of collector Alvin Yapp. It has private-museum status, and your tour concludes with the option of either tea or dinner made by Yapp’s mother. Make sure to book ahead.
69 Joo Chiat Terr., Singapore 427231
Ninethirty by Awfully Chocolate
The highlight here is really the desserts, made by local chocolatier Awfully Chocolate. The moist All Chocolate cake is a highlight, as are the dark chocolate s’mores and the varieties of hot chocolate.
131 East Coast Rd., Singapore 428816
Sinpopo Brand
Nostalgia is really hot in Singapore right now, and the 1960s interiors and rattan chairs here make for the perfect new-old-school setting to try some local favorites, reinvented. Bring home the kaya to enjoy a local breakfast back in your own home; the one with gula melaka (palm sugar) is particularly good.
458 Joo Chiat Rd., Singapore 427671
Rabbit Carrot Gun
This British restaurant and its sister bar are some of the most fun places to hang out on the city’s East Coast, serving up a good array of local brews. There are also some boutique accommodations on the upper floors of the building that houses the restaurant.
47-49 East Coast Rd., Singapore 428768
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Shibani Mahtani
Born and raised in Singapore, Shibani is the Southeast Asia correspondent for The Washington Post. She started her career in the city, and while she is now based in Hong Kong, she still reports on Singapore and visits often to get her fix of the local food. She takes great pride in rebutting those she meets around the world who dismiss Singapore as boring.
Ore Huiying
Ore is a contributing photographer to The Washington Post based in Singapore. Her favorite place there is her family farm at the outskirts, an oasis of serenity amid the bustling city.