A Guide To Joo Chiat Katong Singapore
All photos were taken before Circuit Breaker or in accordance with safe distancing regulations.
Located on the Eastern side of the island, Joo Chiat is known for being one of the first heritage towns in Singapore! A quick chat with the locals would reveal that the neighbourhood has always been synonymous with the Peranakan (Straits-born people with Chinese and Malay or Indonesian heritage) culture.
The Joo Chiat of today is a mix of old and new. From traditional heritage shophouses to hipster bars and shops, explore its rich history and modern influences with a stroll down the street.
How to get to Joo Chiat Road
While Singapore is generally extremely accessible by public transportation, Joo Chiat does not have its own MRT station. The nearest MRT station to Joo Chiat would be Eunos (EW7) on the East-West line (or green line). Look out for Exit B after exiting the station. You should turn right after you exit the turnstile.
The bus interchange is located at Exit B. You should be looking out for the bus bay area, which is simply found by walking all the way straight. Take buses 154 or 76 for two stops, you should alight at the stop called Joo Chiat Cplx.
You should be alighting at this bus stop –look out for the 7-Eleven or the Geylang Serai Market across the road. The entire journey should take not more than 10 minutes (including waiting time).
Things to do
1. Beading Workshop at Rumah Kim Choo
Rumah Kim Choo is a Peranakan boutique shop and museum gallery all in one. Take a walk around the shop and be amazed by the beaded shoes (yes, it is all handmade!) and fascinating tableware designs. You’ll be surprised to know how much work goes into hand sewing the individual beads onto each shoe!
The gallery also provides workshops teaching beading techniques to others, spreading the Peranakan culture far and wide. Mr Raymond Wong, a fashion designer and third generation Peranakan, helms the class.
2. Vintage Vespa Sidecar Heritage Tour
One of the most interesting ways to explore Joo Chiat is on a Vintage Vespa sidecar! Singapore Sidecars offers tours that will take you around the area, showcasing some of the highlights like the Koon Seng Road shophouses, coffee shops and more.
Chat with the driver who doubles up as a guide along the way and get ready to have all eyes on you as you glide down the streets.
3. #OOTD at Koon Seng Road shophouses
One of, if not the most representative icons of Joo Chiat would be these colourful Peranakan shophouses along Koon Seng Road. Built in the 1920s, these two to three storey residential houses are distinctive due to their pastel hues and nicely designed exterior. Upon inspection, you would realise that there are recurring uses of flowers patterns, tiles and intricate detailing on its facade.
#KlookTip: Remember to be respectful when you’re taking pictures outside as there are residents living in these houses!
Address: Koon Seng Road (in between the junction of Pennefather Road and Joo Chiat Road and the junction of Lorong J Telok Kurau and Still Road)
4. Visit a heritage home - The Intan
Visit a Peranakan Heritage Home -The Intan, a collection of cultural gems of the Peranakan culture. The owner of the home will share with you the spirit of Peranakan culture, trinkets he has collected over the years and at the end, you’ll also get to enjoy snacks and home-made refreshments.
5. Shop for Trinkets at Cat Socrates
Cat Socrates is an independent retail store which sells fun and quirky items with a Singaporean twist. You can find yourself laughing at the most random books about cats, pick up a durian plushie or start your air plant collection.
Besides housing cat-related knick-knacks, the store also sources many goods from local designers, giving them a platform and opportunity to present their works to a wider audience.
Address: 448 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427661
Opening hours: 12.30pm – 9.30pm, closed on Mondays
6. Visit a historic religious site
The history of the Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple dates all the way back to the late 1800s. It is a significant religious institution for the Hindu community in Singapore. Over the last century, the temple has met several obstacles which required the reconstruction of the building at least five times.
This temple is particularly special as many non-Hindus have contributed to its rebuilding and is well-patronised by other ethnic communities in Singapore. The temple also hosts a large multi-purpose hall which people can book for their weddings, events, seminars or presentations.
#KlookTip: As you are entering a place of worship, the temple has a few guidelines regarding attire. Most notably, remove any form of caps or hats, shoes and socks before entering the temple. Remember to give your feet a quick wash too!
Address: 19 Ceylon Road, Singapore 429613
Opening Hours: 6am – 12pm, 6.30pm – 9pm
Things to eat
7. Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Prata
Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Prata serves freshly made roti prata that attracts avid fans from around the country (no joke) for a hearty breakfast. It truly is the early bird catches the worm here as the shop often closes early if they sell out fast!
#KlookTip: Order a Kosong (plain prata) for a truly authentic taste test. If you are craving for something “extra” crispy, we recommend getting the coin prata! This smaller and thinner variation would definitely deliver the crunch you are looking for.
With three different curry bases to choose from (fish, mutton and dahl),the dahl curry is the mildest of the lot, and is perfect for those who can’t take much heat from the spice. The fish and mutton curry on the other hand, is slightly spicier, but nothing crazy. Both are equally flavourful, with the fish curry being on the tangy side.
They also provide sambal, which is not typically served in prata shops. For those who are not able to take the spice, fret not as you can opt for sugar instead.
Address: Tin Yeang Restaurant, 300 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427551 (beside Dunman Food Centre)
Opening hours: 6.30am – 1pm
8. Birds of Paradise
If you were attracted by the aromatic scent of thyme as you stroll along the streets, Birds of Paradise is where you should be headed to next! Serving a huge range of botanical gelato flavours (think herbs, flowers and spices), there is something for everyone. The must-try flavour would definitely be the lychee-raspberry!
Address: 63 East Coast Rd, #01-05, Singapore 428776
Opening hours: 12pm – 10pm (Tuesday – Thursday, Sunday), 12pm – 10.30pm (Friday and Saturday), closed on Mondays
10. Kim Choo Kueh Chang
Founded by the same owner in the connecting boutique shop, you would find Kim Choo Kueh Chang. Named after Madam Lee Kim Choo, a first-generation Peranakan, the store is renowned for her famous Nyonya Chang (glutinous rice dumplings with meat filling).
Some examples of kuehs include Ondeh Ondeh (chewy pandan rice balls filled with molten palm sugar and tossed in desiccated coconut), Kueh Lapis (colourful layered snack made with rice flour – a favourite amongst children!) and Wo Ko Kueh (colourful steamed rice cake served with orange sugar on the side).
Address: 111 East Coast Road, Singapore 428801
Opening hours: 9am – 9pm
Quentin’s Bar and Restaurant serves a range of authentic Eurasian and Peranakan cuisine - a glorious mix of East and West. Chef Quentin Pereira learnt the art of Eurasian cooking from his parents and grandparents and you’ll find dishes like Devil’s Curry, Sugee Cake and Pineapple Prawn Curry on the menu.
More to Singapore to explore!
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