Saturday, April 21, 2007

Joo Chiat Road foodie joints

I read somewhere (can't remember where exactly) that Joo Chiat road was named after some wealthy plantation owner called Chew Joo Chiat. When then British government wanted to build a road through his estate, he willingly acceded - and then sold off the land on either side of the road at a handsome profit! The shops and houses along Joo Chiat Road are still there to this day.

There are so many nice eating places to try out along Joo Chiat Road. What has really made these places more accessible is the opening up of more car parks down the road. We've been to a number of them and maybe I'll give more details in a subsequent post. But some of my favourites are in this little cluster just near the old Maternal and Child Health clinic, now newly converted into a Scanteak furniture shop. I have always liked the look of this building, in particular its simple and clean lines, and its good to see that it is now back in use.

But back to the food. Straight across Scanteak is the Ayam Penyet stall. This "smashed" fried chicken dish is now a bit of a fad, but this is one of the first few stalls which started selling it. In fact this stall also sells fish penyet and beef penyet too! I like the fish penyet, as the fish is nicely fried - crispy on the outside, yet retaining its juiciness inside.

A few shops down, is the Lau Hock Guan Kee Bak Kut Teh stall - which is mentioned favourably in Makansutra for its fish head curry and which we like, of course, for its steamed fish tail! But that was not our intended destination that particular evening. Just next door is "My Mum's Place", another Makansutra-featured home cooking restaurant (and where else but Joo Chiat would you get two in a row). And if its a Katongite's home-cooked food, it is pretty good stuff. We have been there a few times, wolfing down their juicy, tasty prawn paste chicken, tender kangkong shoots in sambal, and crispy baby squid. This time we were eating their signature dish, seafood stuffed tofu balls - crispy on the outside, with a juicy filling of tofu and seafood inside (amongst other things), their kangkong (again) and their sliced beef with ginger (not a particularly unique dish, but well-cooked and tasty nonetheless). Service is good, and the food comes quickly to our table. Great choice for a family meal. But busy on weekend nights especially, good to go on a weekday evening. That's also when the carparks are less crowded.

There used to be a third restaurant next to Lau Hock Guan Kee and My Mum's - "Tasty Penang", which obviously sold Penang food. Somehow, despite the fame of Penang hawker fare, Penang food stalls have not done too well in Katong. Penang! Penang! opened in Lau's Arcadia along East Coast Road some time back but folded (I personally think their food was a little overpriced). Similarly, "Tasty Penang" didn't last too long. Whilst a lot cheaper than Penang! Penang!, perhaps the variety of dishes was not sufficient for it to keep up with the competition all around. It's a tough neighbourhood for restaurants but for Katong residents like myself, its a great place to eat! Where else in Singapore can you get great Eurasian, Peranakan, Chinese, Indonesia, Malay, Indian, and frankly many other types of food in one small little area!!

1 comment:

  1. It is with regret that I report that My Mum's Place has closed its doors. Must be a victim of rental increases. Greedy landlords, killing the golden geese! Heaven knows that the restaurant industry is so supercompetitive that the likelihood of a successor surviving is pretty remote. Better not be replaced by another bar :-(



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